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Rasp Graters

By Cook's Illustrated Published March 2007
Update: September 2013

The Edgeware Better Zester has been rebranded as the KitchenIQ Zester, and is now dishwasher-safe. Its rating has not changed.

We tested the Edgeware Better Zester, which sports a built-in squeegee that scrapes off the grated goods and deposits them in an attached container. (Whatever you grate on a Microplane often clings to the back of the blade, especially sticky ginger and garlic.) While the Edgeware’s grating surface worked just as well as the Microplane’s, some testers preferred the latter’s wider plane and simpler design—just a single piece of steel versus the Edgeware’s steel blade set in a plastic frame (chocolate and cheese became trapped in the crevices where the plastic and metal met). We liked the Edgeware enough to recommend it, but it isn’t a trade-up on the classic Microplane.

How we tested

After several years, we have grated hundreds of pounds of hard cheese, citrus zest, chocolate, shallots, garlic, carrots, radishes, and horseradish, and our favorite rasp grater remains an excellent performer overall. Our readers agree. Seventy-five of you responded to a Web survey, and not one reported significant dulling with normal use. That said, we recently noticed that its rasp-like design was no longer unique. We put three new rasp-style graters through their paces to see how they compare.

The results? The first required massive brute strength to produce even a few wisps of grated Parmesan. The second had the opposite problem--it gripped so well that it dug into the pith of the lemon. The third felt flimsy and lacked a handle, which made it difficult to use. And our kitchen standby? It breezed through all four tasks, producing piles of cheese, chocolate, zest, and ginger with minimal effort.

That said, we do have a note from the kitchen. Both readers and test cooks pointed out that this zester breaks down hard cheese into very light, feathery shards that weigh less than cheese grated on box or rotary graters when measured by volume. For instance, our tests show that 1 ounce of Parmesan grated on the fine holes of a box grater yields 1/2 cup of grated cheese, whereas the same 1 ounce grated on a rasp yields 3/4 cup of grated cheese. When following a recipe, then, use the recommended weight of hard cheese. If the amount is given by volume grated on a box or rotary grater, increase it by half if you are using a rasp grater.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*