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Old 10-06-2006, 11:58 AM   #1
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What do you look for in a cheese grater?

Hi everyone,

I am a design student out of Boston, MA and I am currently working a project to improve the cheese grater. Now, I am in my research phase and I am looking at the three main types of graters (microplane, rotary and box) to identify any inherent issues that I might chose to address in the design of a new grater. I have not chosen which type (or combination of types) I am going to design, but I was just wondering your opinions about the current cheese graters out there (From ergonomics to stability, to performance as far as cutting surfaces are concerned, storability, cleaning) any type, any opinion helps! Thanks in advance!

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Old 10-06-2006, 12:34 PM   #2
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Hi and welcome to DC.

As for cheese graters, I have all three you mention and use them all. I have several microplane graters, ranging from ultra-fine to quite coarse. I also have a Mouli rotary grater, and two box graters. One box grater is the standard old-fashioned 4-sided style metal grater. The other one is a box grater that only has two microplane cutting sides.

I've been cooking for nearly 50 years and have accumulated all manner of cooking "toys" for my kitchen. Each of my graters are valuable to me depending on how I want to prepare my cheeses. If I want nice long thin string-like shreds, I will use one of the cutters on my rotary grater. If I want ultra-fine cheese particles, I use my hand-held microplane strip grater. For shreds of cheese between these two extremes, I depend on other cutters on my rotary grater or on the microplane box grater.

As for ergonomics and stability, I don't have any difficulty holding/using any of my graters comfortably and, as for stability, I've yet to experience any problem. All my knuckles are still in tact.

I can add to my comments, that I have carpal tunnel in my right hand/wrist, as well as arthritis in the same hand. I am right-handed, so using nearly any cooking tool in that hand can be a challenge or painful on occasion. However, since I don't spend hours and hours using any of my graters, there's never been any discomfort related to using them. I'm very happy to have them and really do use at least one of them every day.

Don't know if I've been of any help with your task, but it's interesting and I hope you do well in your quest to "build a better mousetrap."
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Old 10-06-2006, 12:57 PM   #3
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I'm thinking that most of the issues you are attempting to address are more applicable in the professional kitchen, where large quantities of everything is done, as opposed to the home kitchen.
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Old 10-06-2006, 01:05 PM   #4
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I like the "box" upright graters best myself, b/c each of the planes will allow you to grate in a different size. Another benefit is that the grated cheese falls into the interior of the box, minimizing the mess it makes, wheres a microplane causes the cheese to scatter in various directions.

I've never had problems using any of those varieties of graters, though I can see where a box grater could benefit from having rubber stoppers lining its bottom edge. When grating some harder cheese it can require the user to put in a pretty good amount of force, and rubber might help prevent the box grater from sliding on a surface with little traction.
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Old 10-06-2006, 01:09 PM   #5
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Microplane is by far the best ... put that on a box grater shape for those who want that shape and you will have answered all dreams. I have every size microplane from x fine to ribbon ... awesome tool.
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Old 10-06-2006, 01:20 PM   #6
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I`de go Microplane anyday of the week also, but the sort that has the catcher bowl and the grater is the lid (if that makes sense?).

the rotary and box are a pain to wash up really, whereas the plane type you have proper unhindered visual access to all parts and have little risk of loosing Knuckle skin when in a bowl of suds, the rotarys are fine too, but better if you whole heaps of cheese to grate, else it`s just not worth the messing about washing it all up when all you want is a cheese/onion toastie for one :)

I`m happy with my microplane type, it`s just Grate! :)
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Old 10-06-2006, 01:22 PM   #7
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Just thought of something-

I know some folks who like to use the hand guards when using a grater or a mandolin... the problem is I haven't found one that worth the 2 cents it costs to make them. They always always slip, and if you happen to somehow cut yourself on a grater, chances are it was due to a terrible hand-guard.
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Old 10-06-2006, 01:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nhl856
What do you look for in a cheese grater?
Holes! Lots of holes!
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Old 10-06-2006, 02:22 PM   #9
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Thank you all for your input so far! I've posted on a few other boards as well and noticed the Box grater is popular for its multi-purpose function (variety of cutting surfaces), but unpopular for clean up and often cheap construction. The microplane seems to be the favorite, but seems to make more of a mess because of the open nature. Perhaps some sort of micrograter with interchangable, dishwasher safe cutting surfaces? Also some sort of container to which the cheese/other foods you are grating are collected? Lastly, while grating with a box grater, do you typically hold the grater straight up and down applying downward pressure using the handle? or do you ever hold it in the air with a somewhat non-traditional grip. Even more, do you hold it on one of its edges against the table so the cheese slides to the spot where the grater is in contact? Thank you all again, this is great information!
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Old 10-06-2006, 03:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nhl856
Perhaps some sort of micrograter with interchangable, dishwasher safe cutting surfaces? Also some sort of container to which the cheese/other foods you are grating are collected?
Sounds like a pretty good description of a food processor to me.
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