There are kitchen items that are known essentials like knives, boards, scissors, a blender / food processor, whisks, spoons etc. There are kitchen items that are nice to have but are not essential and most likely add more clutter, like anything that is created to slice just one thing. And then there are the items that you don’t think you need until you have them. Once you have them, you can’t imagine life without them and feel the need to share the joy they bring to cooking. Below are 5 such items for me.
1. Kitchen Scale
You really can’t understand the joy of a kitchen scale until you have one. I didn’t actually buy my first scale – it came with a Kenwood mixer. Once I had it, I couldn’t do without it, and bought a second one within a week of the first one cracking, it gets a lot of use! Once you have one it becomes indispensable and makes cooking and baking so much easier. A lot of recipes are written in weight, which is the more technically correct way – 1 cup of white flour won’t equal 1 cup of whole wheat flour if you weigh them both out. Having a scale lets you use those recipes without googling “how many cups is 150 grams sugar”. And if you’re making sourdough, a scale is a need to have for sorting out your starter and keeping it healthy.
It also reduces clean up – instead of using measuring cups, all ingredients can be weighed directly into the mixing bowl by resetting the scale to zero after adding every ingredient. Then there’s portioning out dough – important if you’re making pita or rolls and want everything uniform sized. I’ll put a ball of dough on the scale, divide the weight by the amount I’m making and cut and weigh each piece so they’re uniform. It sounds extra, but it’s easy with a scale and results in better looking baked goods that all bake together evenly. The same applies to cookie dough, which I’ll measured out to get uniform sized cookies.
When it comes to buying a scale my only advice is that if you’re accident prone in the kitchen or have a history of breaking things, do not buy a glass scale as it will shatter if dropped on the floor (how scale number 1 broke). Rather buy a stainless steel one that can handle a little fall. This is the one I have.
2. Mandolin Slicer
A mandolin slicer makes slicing vegetables and fruit (apples and pears) into perfectly uniform thin slices so much easier. Great for salads and making oven baked veggie crisps. It is also a dream for slicing onions in a way that does not result in painful tears.
I have this one that fits on top of a container that catches the slices which makes it even easier and less messy. It also means I can slice, drizzle some olive oil, mix and spread onto a tray to bake without messing more than one bowl. My only tip is to use the safety guard, a mandolin slicer is sharp, and those cuts run deep.
3. Salad Spinner
A salad spinner is good for its obvious use – to spin and dry greens – no one wants soggy lettuce. It is especially useful if you prewash and then store greens. I also use it to spin and dry other vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts and sliced cabbage. It also works as a colander; I tend to use it as a colander to rinse out vegetables.
4. Silicone Spatula
A silicone spatula is the best tool for scraping out every drop of batter or frosting from a bowl, or really anything thick and liquid. It is not the same as a plastic spatula- it is more flexible making it a better scraper that can handle heat. Silicone is especially good when it comes to sticky things that harden quick like caramel, as it peels off instead of sticking to it. The one I have is sold out, but similar to this one.
5. Flat Edge wooden spoon
Wooden spoons generally do not leave scratches making them perfect to use in non-stick pans or any pan you don’t want to ruin. The flat edge is key for helping you scrape up the bits that stick to the bottom of the pan as you cook (like onions or tomatoes) easily and without leaving scratches. It’s also great for mashing down ingredients cooking into a sauce or jam like tomatoes or berries. A wooden spoon doesn’t get as hot as a metal spoon, so if you tend to leave spoons in a hot pan, you won’t burn your hand when you pick it back up.
What are your “didn’t know I needed them until I had them” kitchen items?