The Best Tool For Grating Baking Spices

Why go to the trouble of grating your own baking spices when you can easily purchase ground varieties? One word — flavor. Exposure to light and air causes pre-ground spices to lose some of their potency, so by grinding them yourself, you'll ensure that spice is truly delivering the flavor it should in your dish. And all you need to turn your whole baking spices into aromatic ground spices at home is a simple and inexpensive kitchen tool: a Microplane grater.

In case you're not familiar, a Microplane is a tool with a narrow, relatively long grating surface and a handle, more similar in shape and size to an offset spatula than a typical box grater. Ever since the tool became available to consumers in the 1990s, it's been beloved, with professional chefs like Chris Santos saying they can't live without it, and home cooks taking to Reddit to proclaim how underrated the cooking tool is.

You use it like you would any grater, and since it yields a very fine consistency, it's ideal for grating spices. There's just one limitation: You'll want the item you're grating to be large enough to grasp and safely move over the Microplane's surface. While attempting to use a Microplane to grate tiny clove pieces is destined for failure (and potentially scraped fingertips), it's perfect for larger baking spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. As a bonus, you don't even have to grapple with peeling ginger, as the consistency yielded by the tool is so fine you won't notice the skin.

The Microplane grater is a kitchen powerhouse

If you have limited space in your kitchen, you may have sworn off single-use kitchen tools. However, don't be so quick to put the Microplane in that category. It's surprisingly versatile for a tool that can easily fit in your cutlery drawer.

Microplanes are perfect for a wide range of uses beyond turning your cinnamon sticks and whole nutmeg (essentials you need in your home kitchen for whipping up both sweet and savory dishes) into fragrant, ready-to-use ground spices. You can zest citrus fruits, and since the serrated edge is so delicate, you'll be able to avoid the bitter pith better than when using a box grater. It will also help you finely grate everything from hard cheeses to chocolate and even garlic.

Beyond simply adding flavor, a Microplane can also help with your baking. It'll be your secret weapon for flaky pastries, allowing you to grate frozen butter that's effortlessly incorporated into your dry ingredients. And if you accidentally burn the bottom of the baked goods you've made with your freshly grated baking spices, don't despair. The Microplane can help there, too, gently sloughing away the overly browned portion and leaving the rest of the baked good intact. From a usage standpoint, it also makes your life easier because, with a Microplane, you can grate in both directions, unlike a box grater.