How do you grate the peel of a lemon or lime, or grate fresh ginger? What cooking utensil do you use?
I recently found a new tool for the kitchen, and it’s just what you are looking for. Grace Manufacturing makes rasps and planes for the woodworking industry. They have adapted a few of their tools for use in the kitchen, and they are fantastic. You can see their line of Microplane products on their website. I have been using their zester/grater with the black handle for everything from zesting the outer rind of a lime or lemon to grating Parmesan cheese.
After reading your question, I was curious how the Microplane would perform with ginger. Lemon, lime, and Parmesan come out rather dry when grated, but the ginger was quite wet and didn’t fall off the back of the tool. It was, however, easy to scrape it off, and the result was a fine, wet puree. The results would not be suitable for a stir-fry, but would be excellent for any recipe calling for ginger as a flavoring, when you don’t want to bite into pieces.
If you don’t want to buy a new grater, your old one will do. I don’t like to use the sharp, pointy, scrape-your-knuckles side of the grater for zesting. The zest catches in it and is very difficult to remove. You often read about how you can put plastic wrap over the grater and use that to lift the zest off the grater. All that has ever done for me is give me grated plastic in my zest, so I don’t recommend it. I use the smallest holes, producing a fine shred, but I get all of it.
Be sure to gently zest citrus fruits. You want to use only the colored part of the rind, being careful not to grate into the bitter white pith. Remember to grate the zest before cutting a lemon in half to juice it; it’s a lot easier that way. When calculating how many citrus fruits you will need for a recipe, you can pretty much count on getting 1 teaspoon of zest from a lime and 1 1/2 teaspoons from a lemon. You’ll probably get about 3 tablespoons of juice from a lemon and 1 tablespoon from a lime.