No need for a kitchen full of fancy gadgets…you can start cooking with just 9 Essential Tools.
Preparation is everything, so its better if you have all your ingredients prepared and ready to go before you start actually cooking. Some basic tools are all you need to get preparation started….
Get started with these items yourself or put a pack together as a gift for someone else.
1. Chopping Board for Vegetables
A chopping board will protect your bench top and your knife. (The flat white thing in the picture above). This one is for vegetables and fruit only and not for use for raw meats. Never let raw meat come into contact with uncooked items like fruit and vegetables.
Chopping boards are available in many materials – plastic, glass, metal and wood. My preference is for plastic as it cleans easily.
2. Chopping Board for Raw Meats
This board needs to be used for meats only as raw meats should never come into contact with fruit and vegetables. Did you know that more people get food poisoning from poor hygiene at home than from a dodgy takeaway?
Having two chopping boards means you can stay safe while not having to try and clean between preparations.
Get them different colours or write on them so you know which is for which.
3. Tea Towel
In addition to drying dishes it is useful to have a tea towel on hand for wiping your hands. You could use an apron but best not to use your clothes!
Use a tea towel to put under your chopping board to secure it to the bench top and prevent the board sliding around.
Also useful for assisting with opening sealed jars. The tea towel will give you a more secure grip to help break the seal.
A tea towel is also useful for removing water from vegetables. Use it to pat dry salad leaves, spinach and herbs and then you don’t need to buy a salad spinner. Also use the towel to squeeze out water from grated zucchini or potato.
Make sure you wash them regularly so they are clean and hygienic.
Traditionally referred to as a potato peeler which is used for peeling all kinds of fruit and vegetables. As a kid I had a competition with my Grandpa on who could get the most apple peel off in one strip (try it!). Grandpa needed the skin removed due to false teeth – I would recommend keeping the peel on an apple as it gives more fibre and nutrients.
A peeler can also be used to create thin strips of carrot, zucchini etc. which is quick to cook and also looks interesting. Make them as wide or narrow as you wish and then there is also no need for an expensive spiralizer!
You can also use your peeler to make “shavings” of parmesan cheese for topping salads or Italian dishes.
What is the bit of the corner of the peeler used for? This is for removing “eyes” from potatoes or other spoiled bits from fruit and vegetables. It is also useful for removing the hull from strawberries.
A pair of scissors in the kitchen is very handy for cutting herbs from your herb pots, as well as “chopping” herbs into small pieces for use in recipes.
Start by cutting thin strips and then layer the strips and cut across to make small pieces e.g. as shown with these mint leaves.
I also like to use them for opening packets and cutting a number of small and difficult to handle things into strips e.g. sun-dried tomatoes, dried fruit or pieces of meat.
6. Small Knife
This is a general purpose knife and my preference is for a serrated knife as they don’t need sharpening.
The blade is like a saw and so cutting needs to be a forward and back motion.
However there are more reported cuts from serrated knifes than flat bladed knifes. This issue may be more related to professional kitchens and not home cooks.
You can use this knife for cutting all sorts of vegetables but works best for smaller and softer varieties such as zucchini or tomatoes.
7. Chef’s Knife
This is a large wide bladed knife and is best to be smooth bladed as good for chopping herbs, meat and large hard vegetables.
For hard things like pumpkin insert the tip and then push down on top of the knife with your free hand to make the blade cut through.
Cutting with a chef’s knife with a smooth blade is more with a rocking motion. Unlike a serrated blade where it is sawing motion.
Use the side of the blade to press down on a clove of garlic which will assist with removing the skin and can then continue to crush the garlic this way.
Buy a good quality knife and it will last you for a lifetime.
Keep it sharpened so it will cut things more easily and will be less likely to cut you!
Also known as strainer or colander is good for rinsing vegetables, beans and grains. Place them in the sieve and run water over.
Also useful for draining pasta after cooking, by emptying the pot into the sieve and letting the water run away while keeping the pasta. You can use for anything cooked that needs drained and then pour over more water if you wish to rinse.
They are sold as plastic or wire mesh or solid metal. I prefer the plastic mesh (pictured) as its finer and flexible so can be used for sieving flour if you are baking as well as squeezing water out of vegetables such as zucchini.
Get one that has little arms like this one which attach to the side of a bowl or feet to stand on so you can work hands free with them.
A sieve can also be used for mashing/blending soft foods which can be squeezed through the small holes to create the puree or mash.
Get a grater that is a decent size (not like the mini in this picture!) as it’s much easier to handle and work with. Box grater or flat one is a personal preference only. There are hinged ones available too.
Most graters will have a number of settings for different uses.
The grater can be used, instead of a knife, for preparing vegetables including onions to make them small and easier to cook – use the large holes for this.
The long slice hole can be used for slicing vegetables into very thin slices or for shaving a block of parmesan.
Use the smallest holes for zesting orange and lemon or grating spices such as nutmeg or cinnamon. Either grade can be used for cheese depending on how fine you want it.
Grate ginger (from frozen) and garlic using a grater – easier to clean than using a garlic press.
If you have a fourth setting with the sharp bits pointing out make sure you keep your knuckles away from these! This area is really difficult to clean if you use on soft / moist items. Best to use this for dry things like nutmeg or cinnamon.
There are many fancy graters out there including micro-planes etc but you can stick to the basic box grater to do all your jobs. Just buy a good quality one so the holes are sharp and it will last.
Other Useful Cooking Information
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