Ten Useful Small Gadgets and utensils that can help you in the Kitchen
There are many useful major appliances and tools that are a must in the kitchen, but there are just as many small useful gadgets that make every day chores in the kitchen so much easier. While many a drawer is full of useless items that seemed like a good idea at the time, they are used only once or twice and then left to become clutter. The items in my list are the things I use every day. If you are just starting to get serious about cooking these few items will certainly help you adapt to many cooking chores.
1. The “Y” peeler. I think who ever invented this item should get a Nobel Prize for something. I could never use a standard vegetable peeler without it constantly getting clogged. I guess I just didn’t get the whole idea of it, and so I often ended up peeling vegetables with a knife. The Y peeler made my life so much easier. It also left so much more edible portions on my vegetables ( no more pencil thin carrots). Odd shaped vegetables are now a breeze to peel.
2. The “Jar Pop”. A great and useful item that should be in everyone’s kitchen drawer. I cannot tell you the how many “favorite knives” that have mysteriously managed to have their tips disappear when stubborn jars were somehow opened while I was out of the kitchen. This little gem will “pop” the vacuum seal on any jar, without chipping the glass.
3. The egg separator is a dandy little tool that’s not a necessary item but one that finds itself being used a lot if you’re a baker. Of course if you are doing large quantities of eggs your hands are the best tool for separating eggs but for only one or two this tool keeps the hands clean and I find it convenient for removing the chalazae (the long white stringy part attached to the yolk). I found a really goofy one on Amazon I’ll put the link at the end of the article.
4. The Mandoline is another item that gets used alot. A good one with an adjustable blade will allow you to thinly slice vegetables. Different blade configurations for fancy slicing will have you looking like a true professional. The good ones are quite expensive but if you do a lot of cooking it might well be worth the expense. There are inexpensive ones but make sure you get one that can adjust the thickness of the slices.
5. I found that it is useful to have a number of whisks, they manage to get used daily. For most uses I prefer the standard metal balloon whisk, but in various sizes from very small to about a 10 inch. For non stick coated pots and pans, a set of silicone whisks is a must if you want to keep the finish on the pots. The flat or roux whisk comes in both steel and silicone and is great for making gravies, as its flat configuration allows it to get into the corners and edges of the pots or pans.
6. Because so many pots and pans today have some sort of coating it is necessary to have utensils that are not going to scratch the surfaces as much as metal. Any scratch in the surface of a non stick pot will eventually erode the surface. Bamboo or wooden utensils are a must. Spoons, spatulas, turners, even forks are available.
7. Another item needed is the often neglected spatula. To scrape and clean pots and pans of every drop of gravies or sauces. The secret to a good spatula is they can’t be too thin. They should have just a slight give to the blade and they should be rated to withstand fairly high temperatures. Really good spatulas that are rated at being heat resistant to almost 500°. While some of the cheaper ones would work well for frosting if they are too thin they’ll flip flop and make any task harder. Fish spatulas and turning spatulas are now being made with coatings that can be used in non stick situations
8. If you are a baker at heart then the plastic and rubber spatulas are not really what you want for frosting and other chores. A good wooden handled steel spatula is the way to go. Flat or angled they do come in different sizes, I have a small angled spatula 3 inches long that gets a lot of use. My trusted fish turner of choice is metal,I just make sure I cook my fish in the proper pan.
9. A great knife set is a luxury, especially if your just starting out. A couple of good knives though are an important part of any kitchen. A good 3 or 4 inch parer, a 8 inch chef’s knife and a 8 or 10 inch utility knife are a good start. You should try them out by going to a store and holding them seeing if they feel good in your hand. One other knife I have come across recently which I use a lot if a 7 inch Santoku, great for slicing dicing, cutting cheese, chopping it has become my new all purpose knife.
10. The last item on my “short” list is a good set of bowls. I have a set of metal bowls that range from about a 2 cup up to a very large 2 gal bowl. Having a bowl big enough to accommodate all you ingredients to mix is certainly not a luxury. One of my bowls fits very nicely over a standard sauce pot filled with hot water makes it a great double boiler for chocolate or making hollandaise I use the larger ones to hold measured out flour and other ingredients. They are light weight which makes them easier to handle than glass or ceramic bowls. When making a bread even large amounts fit into my biggest bowl to rise and are easy to flour or oil before the proofing.
This is by no means the “definitive” list of things you “must have” for your kitchen. It’s simply a list of items I have found not only useful but well used in my kitchen. I’m sure there are an abundance of tools, others feel should be on the list. If you have a suggestion please let me know and perhaps with enough input I can do another list. Below are a list of items suggested in the article.
OXO Good Grips Pro Y-Peeler
Jar Opener – Jar Pop in Assorted Colors Sold Individually
Egg Yolky 96035 Egg Separator
OXO Good Grips V-Blade Mandoline Slicer
Silicone Whisk Set/3 by Miles Kimball
10 Piece Bamboo Utensil Set With Extra Large Spoons And TurnersWilton 570-1121 Easy Flex 3-Piece Silicone Spatula Set, Blue
Wilton 570-1121 Easy Flex 3-Piece Silicone Spatula Set, Blue
Professional Offset Spatula Set, Ateco
Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Pro S 7-Inch Santoku Knife with Hollow Edge
Stainless-Steel Mixing Bowls
The items listed above are examples of the tools I have suggested. Like every thing else in life your personal preferences will determine exactly which item pleases you the most. Shop, have fun and dream of the gourmet dishes you’re going to create!