When you venture into the wild world of kitchen tools, it can be a little intimidating, to say the least. Knowing what’s really essential and what’s just junk can be difficult, so here’s our handy guide on what exactly counts as a necessity in the kitchen.
Before we get started, we’re going to assume that you have the bare basics such as one decent knife, a trusty set of pots and pans and, hopefully, a whisk and an egg lifter. If not, start with those. Then move on to these five kitchen essentials.
This item, once reserved for the cheffiest of chefs, has now become a staple in most kitchens. A microplane is a slim very fine grater held in your hand. If you’re finishing pastas off with parmesan, a microplane is the best tool for the job, but it’s also great for zesting limes and lemons, as well finely grating garlic and ginger.
While most kitchen appliances automate a job you could do by hand, there really is no replacing what a blender can do. Not to be confused with a food processor (which does things like slice vegetables and make pastry), a blender is designed to blitz things into a liquid state. Smoothies and soups can really only be made by using a blender. Your options range from a handheld stick to a high-powered immersion device and, no, you don’t need to spend too much. Do make sure, if you’re using a stand-up blender, that you don’t blend hot ingredients together. The pressure will build and can cause a mini explosion.
This might not seem like the most essential thing to have in your kitchen, but when it comes to scraping batters out of bowls, there’s nothing quite as efficient as a rubber spatula. They truly do get into every nook and cranny of a bowl or pan, meaning you won’t have any pesky leftover bits.
A good chopping board
We’re just going to say it: a glass chopping board has no place in your kitchen. Not only are they very bad for your knives, but there’s also an increased chance that whatever you’re cutting can slip and cause you to injure yourself. (Plus, the noise a knife makes cutting on one is a form of pure torture.) Throw that glass board away and buy yourself a plastic board – they offer the best grip, they’re easy to clean and they’re the most sanitary of all the different types of boards out there.
Have you ever cooked pasta to the perfect al dente point, only to then realise there’s no colander to drain it? Your pasta overcooks while you struggle to make a lid work – or worse, a wire sieve (that surely ends with you burning yourself in one way or another). Avoid this nightmare scenario and invest in a colander.
For some reason, South Africans seem to think that tongs are only useful for braaing, but trust us when we say that you can use tongs for all other kinds of cooking, too. From pastas to sauteed vegetables and stir-fries, tongs becomes the long, skinny, heat-proof fingers you’ve always wanted.
Y-shaped potato peeler
The reason the world progressed from using knives to peel potatoes is likely because they’re much safer than using a sharp blade to finely slice the skin off a spud – as well as just being easier overall. However, that odd butter knife-styled peeler really isn’t that much better than your prep knife – a Y-peeler really is the definitive potato peeling tool. Aside from peeling veggies in a flash (hello, professional-looking asparagus tips!), it’s also handy for shaving cheese such as parmesan.
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