Must-have kitchen items for every home cook. Tools may not make the cook, but these tools will certainly make the cook happier and more efficient
Immersion blenders are useful because you can blend and chop ingredients without transferring them to a different container like you have to do with a conventional blender. For example, you can puree the soup in the soup pot, or make a single-serving smoothie right in your glass. Clean-up is easier and if you have a small kitchen without much room for a regular blender, an immersion blender is a way to go.
These make it easy to extract juice from anything from a lime to a grapefruit while avoiding the seeds. There are several different kinds. One kind is a simple, two-piece manual design. You simply cut the fruit in half, then place half of it on top of the juicer and apply force. The juice will gather below in the bowl, and pith and seed will be trapped in the top part. The bowl should have a spout so that you can decant the juice.
Get a good sharp pair of shears and they will quickly become indispensable once you realize their many uses in the kitchen. Cut a pizza into slices, chop a bowl of greens into smaller pieces, cut cheesecloth… the key is to use this pair only for kitchen uses, and not for anything else. Wash and dry by hand.
Protect your hands from heat while flipping meat on the grill or vegetables roasting in a pan, pull corn on the cob from a pot of boiling water. Tongs are also good for pulling items stored in cabinets that are too tall to reach. You can also use tongs to serve foods like salad, spaghetti noodles, sliced meat, and rolls.
Mortar and pestle
A very simple tool, the mortar, and pestle are simply a bowl and a bat-shaped implement. You can use them in combination to crush, grind, and mix. Use to prepare guacamole or pesto, to grind spices into a powder, or to crush nuts.
Essential for any serious coffee drinker, a grinder will ensure that you get the freshest cup of coffee. Grinding your beans yourself will also allow you to adjust the coarseness of the coffee, e.g. a coarser grind for French press preparation, or a fine grind for use with a brew-cone.
Not only are electric kettles handy for heating water for tea, but you can also use them to heat water faster for just about anything that calls for boiling water: broths, sauces, and so forth. They also make it easier to boil water in places where you don’t have access to a stove and conventional teapot, like at the office.
Fine mesh strainer
Use these for rinsing dried grains and legumes before and cooking—when it comes to small grains like quinoa and couscous, you’ll find that only a fine mesh strainer keeps you from losing grains down the sink drain. Find one with a comfortable handle and a deep bowl. You can also use it to liquefy soft foods—just pour the mixture through the strainer over a bowl, and the strainer will reserve all the solid parts, while the bowl will catch the liquid.
A food processor has many uses in the kitchen and doesn’t typically require liquid, unlike blenders. Use one to make pesto or soup, to shred or grate cheese, to chop vegetables, to grind nuts, and to mix the dough. Because food processors make fruit and vegetables so quick and easy to prepare, it means you just might eat more fruits and vegetables in your diet.
A good knife
This one seems obvious, but all too many home cooks make do with substandard knives that go dull after just a few months. A good knife—or, ideally, a few—will make all your kitchen tasks much more efficient. For the three essential kinds of knives, get a small paring knife, for precision with soft fruits, apples, garlic, and fresh herbs; a medium serrated knife, best for tomatoes, bread, citrus fruits, pies, and quiches; and a big chef’s knife, good for carrots, onions, potatoes. Though steel knives are most common, a ceramic knife is another option.
More options for kitchen gadgets and appliances
Depending on what kind of cooking you do, your specific kitchen tool needs may vary. No matter what you buy, for home or commercial kitchen equipment, make sure you look for quality and versatility in the products. The best kinds of kitchen gadgets will last for years and can be used for multiple purposes. And the right tools for cooking will make you feel like an award-winning chef at a restaurant, even if you’re just whipping up a weeknight dinner or quick breakfast.