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Essential Cooking Tools

The Skinny:

Kitchen gadgets are plentiful, but finding the ones you’ll use on a regular basis can be challenging since every tool out there claims to be important for your kitchen. Ditch the bloat and stick to the essentials to turn your kitchen into a lean, mean, food-making machine.

The How-To:

Budget plays a big factor in selecting your tools. Buy the best you can afford and stay away from the super cheap stuff. The quality of your tools can make or break your cooking session.

The Essentials

While it may be tempting, you don’t need to buy huge sets of kitchen tools. Keep it simple and save your money for better gear.

  • Knives

    Basically, you need two: a big knife and a little knife. An 8-10 inch chef’s knife will do a great job of cutting meats and veggies. For more delicate jobs like mincing, peeling and slicing small objects, a paring knife works perfectly. If you’ve got room for one more knife, get a serrated knife. It’s great for cutting items that have a hard exterior and soft interior. It cuts bread and tomatoes without damaging them.

  • Cutting Board

    Cutting boards protect knives while offering a large, clean surface to work on. Cutting boards are made of many different materials, so try to find one that’s non-slip, odor-resistant and dishwasher safe.

  • Mixing Bowls

    Good mixing bowls are multipurpose. Not only you are they great for meal prep, but they can be used for storing and serving food as well. Find mixing bowls that have lids and are easy to store. Most bowls come in small, medium and large sizes that can be stacked together.

  • Measuring Cups/Spoons

    You can’t really follow recipes well without the precision of measuring tools. Ideally, you’ll have two sets of measuring cups (a measuring cup for liquids and cups for dry ingredients) and a set of measuring spoons.

  • Spatula

    When things need to be flipped or scraped, you’ll need a spatula. Think of your cookware when choosing your spatula. Silicone and wooden spatulas are great for nonstick surfaces while metal spatulas are durable and work well with stainless steel. Some spatulas are even spoon-shaped, working double duty and eliminating the need for extra tools.

  • Spoon

    Mix, stir and serve with a good spoon. Like spatulas, they come in different materials, so choose wisely. Remember that slotted spoons are great for items that need to be strained.

  • Tongs

    Tongs go anywhere your spoon and spatula can’t. Great for gripping, flipping and serving large food items, try to find a pair that can be locked for easy storage.

  • Can Opener

    If you buy anything in a can, you’ll need one of these. Some can openers aren’t one-trick ponies and offer bottle openers and corkscrews to maximize value.

Other Important Cookware

While not essential, these tools help round out your kitchen toolkit. If you’ve got the extra cash, these items are worth the investment.

  • Food Scale

    Get the right amount without the guesswork with a food scale. Look for a scale that’s easy to read, especially when it it’s used with larger items.

  • Oven Mitts/Gloves

    While towels work in a pinch, avoid burns with a glove or mitt that’s made to handle the heat.

  • Instant-Read Thermometer

    When cooking meat or fish, a thermometer is essential to avoid overcooked or undercooked meat. An instant-read thermometer ups the convenience factor.

  • Colander/Strainer

    Drain with ease with a colander or strainer. If you cook vegetables and pasta, a colander can make your life a lot easier. Some may opt to get a salad spinner and use it to strain food as well.

  • Peeler

    A good paring knife will do a good job peeling, but a peeler gives you more convenience and speed. If you’re knife skills aren’t strong, a peeler is perfect.

  • Whisk

    Bulk up your arms and your wallet with a good whisk. Mix batters, sauces and eggs by hand when a blender or mixer isn’t available.

  • Grater/Zester

    Slice and shred the easy way with a box grater or use a zester for finely grating citrus, hard cheeses, aromatics and spices. If you don’t use all the sides of your box grater, zesters come in different sizes and can be easier to store.

  • Kitchen Shears

    A good pair of kitchen shears can open packages, trim fat from meats and quickly mince herbs. When you just don’t feel like using a knife, a pair of kitchen shears can usually get the job done.

While tools don’t make the meal, a great set of tools keeps the chef sane and happy. Work with the essentials and watch your cooking skills improve. Until next time, Enthusiasts.

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