Basic Kitchen Utensils
One household expert, who shall remain unnamed, has a 6-page spread of “basic” kitchen equipment. Don’t you believe it! Here’s a list of what’s really fundamental for starting off with basic kitchen tasks.
Kitchen Utensils for Measuring
Various things need to be measured for successful cooking to take place. Time is one of the most important. You can use a wall clock or wristwatch and either a good memory or a piece of paper to time your culinary exploits. Or you can invest in a kitchen timer. Basic timers run 60 minutes. Higher end timers may have two separate timing devices, plus a clock, and an oven thermometer. Choose what suits your cooking style.
Ingredients also need measuring. If you’re following certain diet regimens, you will need a kitchen scale. For standard US cookbooks, you need tools to measure with the US measuring system, which means dry measures in cups—called simply measuring cups—with standard sizes being ¼ cup, ½ cup, 1/3 cup, and 1 cup. Wet measurements are made in cups and ounces—also called measuring cups, and come in sizes from 1 cup to 8 quarts or more. Besides this, you’ll want a set of measuring spoons, which come in tablespoons and teaspoons and divisions thereof.
Kitchen Utensils for Food Prep
Before the food gets into the pan, the pot, or the serving dish, it often needs to be cleaned, peeled, and made smaller. The cleaning may involve rinsing under the faucet. Or you might need a vegetable scraper, a rough brush that helps get the dirt off of potatoes, for example. Some come with a scraper for more intense work, and a pointed end for digging out eyes.
A vegetable peeler, though it sometimes functions as an alternative to the scraper, has uses in its own right, for example, if you want to peel apples for a pie. If you don’t have a peeler, a knife will often do, but if you’re not expert at it, you may find that you lose more than just the skin when you peel with a knife.
And, speaking of knives, at least one good, long, sharp kitchen knife should grace your kitchen utensil drawer, although it’s handy to also have a serrated knife for cutting baked goods, and a small knife for delicate work. The surface on which a knife works best is a cutting board, so although it’s not strictly a utensil, it’s included in this list. A plastic board is suggested for meat and fish, and will also work for fruit and vegetables.
Kitchen shears handle a variety of tasks, beginning sometimes with getting the food out of the package, as well as creating strips of chicken, slicing pizza in lieu of a pizza wheel, etc. Some come with added attractions, such as a bottle opener on the handle. Cheaper shears tend to dull quickly.
Wooden spoons for combining, stirring, and mixing ingredients and silicone spatulas for scraping bowls and for stirring before and during cooking are other basic kitchen utensils. Whisks, whether wire or teflon-coated are useful for baking, whisking eggs, or making sauces.
Three utensils, a grater, a basting brush, and a colander, can be decided upon based on your use. If you buy pre-grated cheese and never make cole slaw (or have a food processor with a grater), you may not need the separate grater. A basting brush is useful for keeping fowl skin from drying out or applying liquid to the top of baked goods (milk or egg glaze, for example). If neither of those is in your cooking repertoire, you may be fine without it. A colander is useful for washing fruits and vegetables and draining pasta. But if you have a pasta pot with a strainer, and are content to wash your veggies one at a time or let the pasta strainer do double duty, you may not consider it a necessity.Kitchen Utensils for Serving
Removing the food to serving containers and/or plating it is the next step. Depending on the food, this may require several different kitchen utensils. Spatulas, which are available in metal and non-stick plastic, come in solid and slotted versions and should be matched to cookware; i.e., don’t use a metal spatula on a non-stick pan. Serving spoons are also available in solid and slotted versions. In both cases, it’s nice to be able to easily drain an item while serving it. If you serve soups and stew, a ladle may be useful, although, in a pinch, a large, solid serving spoon or pouring may work. Tongs are handy for items that you don’t want to pierce with a fork, but aren’t amenable to being moved with a spatula, like log-shaped sausages, which may roll.
Written by Mary Elizabeth