Cooking Basics

Essential kitchen tools

By Susan Crowley
Info Guru,

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rolling pin and cookie dough
The proper kitchen tools will make cooking more enjoyable
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Whether you're just just starting out in your own apartment or home and know little about choosing essential kitchen tools, or are just checking your well-equiped kitchen to see if there is something you've missed, knowing what every kitchen needs is a great way to make cooking easier and more enjoyable.

Listed below are the top 10 picks from the editors of Cooking Light Magazine:
  1. Whisks Whisks in assorted sizes are ideal for beating eggs and egg whites, blending salad dressings, and dissolving solids in liquids. We consider them essential for making creamy, smooth cooked sauces.
  2. Colanders A large colander works well for draining pasta, salad greens, and browned ground beef. A small strainer is great for separating fruit juice or pulp from seeds.
  3. High-quality chef's knives (also called a cook's knife) These knives are ideal for chopping, mincing, or slicing fruits and vegetables. The blade of the knife ranges from 8 to 13 inches. Choose a handle that is shaped so the hand holding the knife doesn't hit the cutting surface.
  4. Heavy 10-inch nonstick skillet Most of these heavy skillets are made of aluminum, the best heat conductor.
  5. Pepper mill Give your food just a bite of pungent flavor with a sprinkle of cracked or freshly ground pepper. Pepper is an often-overlooked spice—so keep your pepper mill handy for regular use.
  6. Vegetable peeler This tool peels the skin from vegetables and fruits. Select one with a comfortable grip. Note: New ones are on the market featuring ergo dynamic handles that greatly reduce hand stress.

  • Stainless-steel box grater A box-style grater gives you a choice of hole sizes. Use the smaller holes for grating hard cheese or chocolate. For shredding an ingredient like cheddar cheese or carrots, use the largest holes.
  • Kitchen shears Keep kitchen shears handy to mince small amounts of herbs, chop canned tomatoes (while still in the can), trim fat from meat and skin from poultry, make slits in bread dough—plus many more uses.
  • Oven thermometer All ovens are equipped with internal thermostats, yet over time, the actual temperature inside the oven may vary. Use an oven thermometer to tell if you need to calibrate your oven thermostat (follow the instructions in your owner's manual or call the manufacturer).
  • Cutting boards Whether you choose wood or plastic, you need to wash either thoroughly to avoid food contamination. Use diluted bleach on wooden boards and wash thoroughly. Plastic ones can be sanitized in the dishwasher.
      Other essential kitchen tools you should have:

      • Can opener. You can enjoy the convenience of an electric can opener, but it is wise to have a manual one on hand for those times that you may be without power.

      • Spoons. An assortment of wooden spoons as well as a slotted spoon and ladle.

      • Heat-proof silicone spatulas For baking or cooking on nonstick surfaces

      • 2 pairs of tongs in different sizes Look for sturdy ones with locking device

      • Liquid measuring cup set (1 cup, 2 cup, 4 cup).

      • Stainless steel dry measuring cups Dry and liquid measures are different.

      • Nesting stainless steel mixing bowls Preferably with rubber non-slip coatings

      • Measuring spoons Narrow kind that fits into spice jars

      • Digital timer A sure way to avoid over cooked food.

      • Instant read thermometer Even if your oven is exactly calibrated, it's always wise to check the internal temperature of the meat or poultry you are cooking.

      • Food processor. There are several sizes available, but this wonderful small appliance will save you countless hours of hand chopping, mixing and so much more!

      • Stainless steel 1- quart saucepan. For boiling small items or reducing a small amount of sauce. You will probably use this more than you think!

      • 8-inch nonstick fry pan. For omelets and other delicate dishes. Should be heavy with a thick bottom

      This list is pretty much all you'll need to be able to cook up a storm or even a late night peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

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