It’s pretty safe to say, everyone owns a traditional box grater, or has inherited one along the way.
The box grater is considered one of the classic work horse of the kitchen – a genius tool that was designed to grate cheese, but can do a whole lot more. For vegetables to chocolate to anything semi-hard that needs to be grated, this is the obvious tool. But how about making bread crumbs? Or grating hard brown sugar lumps, to create granules again. It’s great for garlic and ginger and perfect for shredding ice cold butter for pastry. And it makes a mean cauliflower rice as well.
Fashioned out of pewter, by Francois Boullier in the 1540’s, his design is considered by most to be the first grater. He created the tool to take advantage of excess cheese, that often got hard. When cheese became a novelty and only enjoyed by the wealthy, the grater went out of vogue.
During the Great Depression, cheese shop owner Jeffrey Taylor, read about Francois Boullier’s invention and designed his own version from a metal shower drain. It caught in during a time when cheese and produce was scarce – it was a great way to make dishes look more ample.
Turns out there’s a lot to choose from if you’re in the market for a new box grater. A quick search on Amazon alone unearths dozens. And if you are ready to purchase, don’t throw your old one out. Box graters, especially early designs from the 40’s and fifties, are collectable.
The Cuisipro Surface Glide Technology 4-Sided Box Grater is considered the Rolls Royce of box graters these days. Cooks Illustrated and numerous others have sung its praises. According to the company:
- Features exclusive Surface Glide Technology: a grooved grating surface that allows you to grate more with less effort
- Grooves reduce resistance, making it easier to grate food
- Grooves also elongate the length of each individual blade; more food is grated with each stroke
- Non-slip handle and base provide stability; grater can easily handle large quantities of food.
- Bonus ginger grater base shreds fresh ginger root while leaving unwanted fibers behind
- Fine for citrus zest and parmesan, coarse for cheeses and vegetables, ultra-coarse for soft cheeses, and slicer for a variety of vegetables
For 34.99 it’s definitely the priciest, but it also comes with a 25-year warrantee and it would make a great gift for the cook who has everything – it’s a definite upgrade.
But there’s something to be said for the simple, no-frills version. The 4-sided stainless steel box grater is recommended for home and commercial kitchens alike. Each side has a different hole for varying sizes of shredded food and can grate, slice and peel. At $3.19, we think it’s a bargain. Just don’t park it in the driveway.