8 July, 2013
Basic Kitchen Utensils
The quality of your cooking doesn’t depend on your kitchen utensils, but having the right tools does make it easier. The one thing I learned very early on is that you should always buy the best you can afford. I still have my first heavy kitchen knife, it cost me about £10 almost forty years ago. As a poverty stricken student that was a huge amount of money to me at the time, but I still use that knife now. The blade is much thinner from years of sharpening but it is still a good, well balanced knife.
There are eight utensils which I believe are essential to start your kitchen, I’m not including pots and pans here, that is a separate subject. A good knife is the first thing you should have. Find one that sits comfortably in your hand. As your first knife you will need one that is multi-purpose so choose one with a medium length blade that can easily be sharpened.
Chopping Boards are essential, not only to preserve your work tops but also to help prepare your food safely and hygienically. You should have at least two, one of which is kept for raw meat. Heavy plastic ones are better than wooden boards as they can be cleaned properly.
Spatulas are useful for both lifting, and turning. Choose one that is suitable for your pots and pans, especially if you have non-stick. Make sure it is flexible but firm and will support the weight of the items you will want to lift. A good spatula can also be used for stirring and mixing.
A set of metal tongs is useful in many ways, not least in keeping you free from splatter burns. Make sure they are long enough to keep your hands well clear of your pans or grill trays. They can be used for lifting, turning and serving. I find them particularly useful for moving stuff around in Roasting pans.
Mixing bowls are often forgotten but they have many uses other than just mixing – marinating and soaking for example. Make sure you have one that is large enough and that is has a stable base. Nothing is worse than having your bowl so full that the contents spill over when you try to stir them.
A good sieve also serves many purposes. It will double as a strainer when you are just setting up your kitchen. Like knives, it pays to buy the best you can afford, stainless steel is the most durable and easily cleaned.
Measuring accurately is important for good cooking, not with every recipe perhaps, but it does help give you confidence when you are a new cook. The exact amount is not as important as the proportions so either a good measuring jug or a set of cup measures will do very well. Scales are great but you can get by very well without them.
Last but not least, you need cleaning cloths. Good food comes from a clean kitchen. Cloths can harbour bacteria so I always recommend the disposable ones. I buy them on rolls and use a new one each day, more often if I am cleaning up after preparing raw meats. These basic kitchen utensils will give you the flexibility you need to prepare most things in the kitchen, even with only a couple of pots and pans to go with them.