Our Top 5 Kitchen Gadgets

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Kitchen tools we can’t do without
When it comes to cooking, whether you’re a daily devotee, a weekend warrior, or a part-time putterer, good kitchen tools can and will make your life easier. We recently polled The FruitGuys contributing recipe writers and cook-happy staff members to find out which kitchen implements they can’t live without—items that not only save time but add to the fun of preparing food and enhance the finished product.

Sharp knives. From left to right: paring knife, serrated knife, chef's knife. 

Following is a list of the Top 5 Gadgets that won out overall, along with a few “honorable mention” items that have avid supporters among our ranks. Do you have these in your cupboard?

“Learn how to cook—try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”
—Julia Child

1. Sharp Knives. Good-quality sharp knives can be expensive, but every kitchen should have at least three: a paring knife; an 8- to 10-inch chopping knife (often called a “chef’s knife”); and a serrated knife. Knives are a very worthwhile investment for your kitchen, even if you have to build your collection over time.

Salad spinners come in many styles, but the basic idea is the same: a plastic bowl and basket with a spinning mechanism. 


2. Salad Spinner. What did we do before the advent of the salad spinner? This ingenious contraption isn’t just for leafy greens—it can be used to soak, rinse, drain, and/or dry chopped vegetables, such as dirt-laden leeks, starchy sliced potatoes, or salted eggplant; to sort and rinse canned or fresh beans; or even to remove excess water from freshly cooked pasta. It can also serve as a spare colander in a pinch.

Immersion blender. Blade end is sometimes removable for cleaning, or you can whir the blending end in warm, soapy water to wash, then whir in clean warm water to rinse. Just don't get the motor wet. 


3. Immersion Blender. Rather than transferring hot soup or sauce into a countertop blender, this invaluable tool (also called a handheld blender) lets you create smooth soups and emulsify sauces right in the pot. But it doesn’t stop there—this handy device can also be used in making various purees, hot chocolate, applesauce, smoothies, whipped cream, and chocolate pudding, to name a few—anything with a liquid or loose consistency is ideal.

Microplane blade. Typical microplanes are long and narrow with an easy-grip handle and a plastic cover for safe storage. 


4. Microplane. This fabulous handheld implement is used to grate or zest everything from citrus peel to garlic and from hard cheese to chocolate. Did we mention fresh ginger, coconut, and nutmeg?

There are hundreds of styles of citrus juicers—here is a basic manual version. 


5. Citrus Juicer (electric or manual). Whether you use the old-school glass, aluminum, or plastic twist-style; the handheld, hinged “squeezer” style; or a more elaborate electric model, fresh citrus juice enhances everything from salsa to sautés and from dressings to desserts. Lemon juice, for example can be used to keep freshly sliced fruit, such as apples, pears, and avocados from turning brown. It’s also delicious added to steamed or sautéed veggies, pesto, marinades, and of course lemonade. Citrus juices in general can be made into granita (Italian ice confection) and add zing to most beverages.

Honorable mentions: Aside from some of the basics, like measuring cups and assorted spatulas, here are some additional items that help make a well-stocked kitchen: cast-iron or heavy-bottom skillet; enameled cast-iron stockpot; 3- or 4-quart sauce pan; food processor (full-size or mini) or blender; steamer basket or metal colander; large cooking tongs; whisk; mandoline (for micro-slicing); pressure-cooker (aka fast-cooker); crock-pot (aka slow-cooker); rice cooker; good-quality cutting boards; basting or pastry brush; parchment paper; sharp kitchen shears (scissors); and bowls—lots of different-sized bowls.

We hope these tips will inspire you and make your cooking experiences easier and more fulfilling. Have something else in your kitchen that you couldn’t live without? Share your Top 5 Gadgets with us! Either post a Comment in the field below or Share on Facebook. We will follow up with a list of reader favorites.


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Our online magazine offers a taste of workplace culture, trends, and healthy living. It features recipes for easy, delicious work meals and tips on quick office workouts. It's also an opportunity to learn about our GoodWorks program, which helps those in need in our communities and supports small, sustainable farms.