How many times have you heard the old adage that having the right tool for the job makes all the difference? This is as true in the kitchen as it is in the wood-working studio or gardening shed.
Trouble is, there are so many kitchen tools and gadgets it’s hard for a beginner cook — or even a more seasoned one — to decide what’s going to do the most good in the long run.
An actual or virtual trip to a well-stocked kitchen store is excruciatingly tempting for those of us who love gadgets and who love to cook. It’s even tricky if you cook only occasionally. Hmmmmm, you might think, maybe that neon yellow, silicone pancake batter bowl will solve all my Sunday morning breakfast problems!
And then again, maybe not….
The Must-Have List
We have put together 15 must-haves for the kitchen drawer. The alphabetical list does not include pots and pans or appliances — just items that fit in a drawer.
- Can opener: You probably can get by with a hand-operated can opener, particularly as many cans are now made with easy-open "pop tops."
- Corkscrew: You need this if you plan to use wine in your cooking — or otherwise!
- Cutting boards: The debate between wood and plastic cutting boards continues. It's a good idea to have one or two small cutting boards made from either for small tasks.
- Instant-read thermometer: The best way to determine if meat or poultry is done is to check the internal temperature of the meat. The most effective way to do this is with a good instant-read thermometer.
- Knives: Good knives are a must. A chef’s knife is the most useful for a home cook, although paring and serrated knives run close seconds. For more, go to The Right Knife.
- Ladle: How can you serve soup or chili without a good-sized ladle? Or pour pancake batter onto a hot griddle?
- Measuring spoons: We’re assuming you have good measuring cups that don’t fit in the kitchen drawer. A nest of measuring spoons not only will fit in the drawer, they are crucial for any number of baking and cooking needs.
- Metal pancake turner: Some folks call these “metal spatulas.” They are necessary for flipping pancakes, fried eggs, and hamburgers.
- Peeler: A sturdy peeler makes quick work of removing the outer layer from carrots, potatoes, apples, etc.
- Rubber spatula: These flexible tools, usually made from silicone, are useful for scraping bowls and folding batters.
- Scissors or shears: A good pair of scissors makes it easy and quick to cut cheesecloth, parchment paper, kitchen string and even fresh herbs. They also come in handy for opening pesky packaging.
- Sieve or strainer: You will find yourself relying on a small, fine-mesh sieve or strainer for any number of kitchen tasks, such as sifting flour and straining sauces, gravies, and custards.
- Tongs: Because they are designed with blunt ends and scissoring capability, tongs are exceptionally useful for grasping meat and poultry (and other food) and lifting or turning them. They are great for the grill.
- Wire whisk: Most cooks have a few whisks of varying sizes. We like a balloon whisk for whipping air into batters and cream, and the elongated style for smoothing out sauces and whisking vinaigrettes.
- Wooden spoons: Metal and plastic spoons are capable of stirring soups, stews, and other mixtures, but many cooks prefer wooden spoons. They don’t scratch pans, don’t conduct heat, and don’t react with acidic foods, which can impart a metallic taste to the final dish.
Having these tools will not automatically turn you into the best cook in town, but they will help you get dinner on the table, bake a cake, and make weekend breakfasts. Add other tools to your collection that suit your cooking and baking styles and you’re good to go!
With the right tools, cooking should be easier, more productive, and more fun.