All cooks need kitchen tools and equipment with their choices varying greatly. The size of the kitchen, type of cooking and the cost, all need consideration as well as the person's preferences. Even with different preferences, there are some tools that are a kitchen necessity. A functioning kitchen needs more than a stove, oven and refrigerator; it needs a good variation of small tools, necessary to complete multiple tasks.
Cutting Utensils and Aids
First, high-quality knives and cutting boards are a must for any kitchen. While a full set of knives is desirable, for starting out, you just need one large knife and a paring knife. A serrated knife would come close, in my opinion, to a necessity for easier bread cutting, but you don’t need one to begin with. Start out small, with just the two knives, but make sure they are the best quality you can afford. Nothing is more vital to food preparation than good knives.
The best knife I have found is made by Global; an 8 inch, all purpose chef’s knife. I will warn you; they are pricey, starting around $120 each. Made with high-carbon stainless steel, this knife out performs any that I have in my kitchen. It is perfectly balanced and fits my hand well, eliminating stress caused by heavier knives.
For my paring knife, I use Shun Classic paring knife, another Japanese made utensil. The shun is pricey as well; starting around $90. The Japanese know how to make knives and are what I consider, the best in the world.
Cutting boards also come in a large range of sizes, materials and prices. I have two cutting boards, a wood board for meat only and a light plastic for everything else. While you don’t need two boards, you must remember, cutting meat on a wooden board is not recommended.
Pots and Pans
A cast-iron skillet is the most important the must-have kitchen tools. This is the most versatile item you will own. With even heat distribution, a cast-iron skillet can be used on stove top or in the oven and with proper care, it’s nonstick for great frying results. These pans will last for generations since they are virtually indestructible. I am still using my grandmother’s cast-iron skillet, which is over 80 years old.
Saucepans are available in various sizes, and you need at least two; one medium-small and one a large, Dutch oven type. You also need a stockpot for making soups and stews with the size depending on the size of your family. For a family of four, a 4- to 6-quart stockpot is perfect. A good quality, stainless steel stockpot is the best.
I believe you can never have enough measuring cups. I own various sized glass ones that I can be put in the microwave to melt butter, and I have plastic ones that I hang from a hook for easy access. Most measuring spoons come in a set ranging in sizes from 1/8 teaspoon to one tablespoon. I recommend making sure the measuring spoons include a 1/8 teaspoon since the sets vary and may not include the smaller sizes.
Baking Dishes and Pans
When purchasing baking items, consider the types of baked items you plan on making. If you make casseroles, you will need casserole dishes, preferably glass or my favorite, Corningware. If you are making cookies, bread and muffins; good, non-stick baking pans will make cooking much easier.
A costlier but terrific alternative is silicone bake ware. While not perfect for everything, silicone will make your baking so much easier and cleanup is a breeze.
Colanders and Sieves
For cleaning fruits and vegetables or draining food liquids, like pasta, you must have a colander or sieve. For hot foods, metal colanders are the best while a plastic colander can be used for fruits and vegetables.
Large, medium and small, wire whisks, spatulas of various sizes, wooden spoons, can openers and peelers are cooking utensils needed in any kitchen. Other items, while not essential, do make things much easier; pizza cutter, meat thermometer, basting brush and timers.
Purchasing kitchen tools is an investment. High quality utensils last longer and work better than cheaper ones. However, if you can only invest in one or two of the more expensive items, make it the knives as these will be used more than anything else in your kitchen.
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