I am in the kitchen a lot. I do batch cooking, I use whole fresh foods, and in this process, and a few conversations and questions from various people, I have realized there are just some things I would never give up in my kitchen, so decided I must make a must have kitchen tools list. A few quickie recipes are included! I also am NOT getting paid for any product endorsements, but I love them so much, I am sharing the brands I use where applicable.
My must Have Kitchen Tools List
1. A good blender – From paleo coffees, smoothies, or your own no poo shampoo, a good blender is crucial. Mine lives on the counter as it’s used constantly. I also find making mayo in a blender works better for me then the Immersion blender I have does. Less mess, and a nice fluffy mayo every time. (I recently learned to make my own pom juice using my Ninja Kitchen System blender… 3 poms, seeded, toss into your blender… add 1 cup (8 0z of water)… crush setting on blender… add up to 2 more cups (16 oz) of water, blend and strain out the excess seeds using a fine mesh strainer, or coffee filter in a normal strainer… chill and enjoy.)
2. Zester/Microplane – I never realized just how important a zester was to me until I lent mine to my daughter and it never came back to my house. After 6 months of not having one, I decided to buy a new one. Ever try to zest a citrus fruit by peeling it carefully, trying to avoid the white pith; and then small dicing it for what seems like hours to get the zest the right size? Ain’t nobody got time for that! Especially not me…. I picked one up at World Market for 12.95.. love it… never going to be with out one again. Also great to use on cheese, chocolate, making garlic paste and ginger paste.
3. Crock pot, or three – I have three full sized crock pots… one old one (I have had it for 30 years!) is reserved for my homemade yogurt. It has the ceramic crock insert that you just cant seem to find these days. One is reserved for bone broths, and is on 24-7. Fresh bone broth in the morning with your first cup of coffee! Talk about energy through out the day. The third is a multi purpose crock pot, from cooking meals while I am at work, to over night slow cooking a pot of beans, you name it. I also have a couple small ones that have been used to make things I like to make in small batches, such as fruit butters.
4. Mandolin Slicer – Oh mandolin slicer, how I love you… You make my Friday night food prep for the week so much easier and quicker… Please do not use your mandolin slicer with out the pusher.. you will cut yourself, badly…. trust me… I use this so often, it lives on my counter. Slice, julienne, waffle cut any veg, even makes ZOODLES!! I typically slice a minimum 5 onions on a Friday night to use through the week. I have an Oxo good grip mandolin slicer… LOVE IT…
5. Hand Held Chopper – A companion to my mandolin slicer…. I keep one on my counter for a quick mince of things, onions especially… remember those 5 onions I just mentioned? 2 of them get minced. I also use it for nuts. PAMPERED CHEF, BABY!!
6. Immersion Blender – Perfect for in the pot blending… no muss, no fuss.. I use this to make home made cream of *insert name of vegetable here* soup, tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes…. blend my daughter’s lumpy gravy…. blend honey into melted coconut butter… plus some.
7. Double Boiler- From making or tempering chocolate, to making egg based sauces, melting wax for candles, or just keeping gravy warm… If you don’t think you will use one of these often, you can “make” one using a stainless steel bowl or other pot that nests to the top of another one. I also use mine to steam veggies since it came with a colander insert pan.
8. A good knife set, kitchen shears and sharpener – I think this is a given… you can’t really cook with out knives, just make sure you keep them sharp, especially if you are using a plastic cutting board. Serrated blades are my favorite, since in my experience they never go dull and have a pluthra of uses. Kitchen shears are beautiful for cutting up whole chickens, for instance.
9. Salad Spinner – Easy way to clean your greens! Soak it, spin it, rinse it, dry it… *Tip: dont cut with a knife or wash lettuces until you need to use them. To keep your greens, raw spinach included… line container with paper towel, add in your greens, top with more paper towel, close.. basically you are building a swaddle nest for them with paper towel. I have had greens in my fridge for 2 weeks stay perfect with this method.*
10. Food Scale – Measure out portions, and weights in general for freezing or canning. Yes, personally I am Paleo, and that doesn’t mean it’s OK to over eat protein like a mad woman… (not saying that I couldn’t, I have to remind myself that I SHOULDN’T.) but the trick is to eat a palm sized portion of protein at a meal. For me that comes out to 4 oz, or quarter of a lb of meat, or 2 eggs. I measure out my 4 oz portions, otherwise, I would over indulge. I am more carnivore then anything else. Curious about portion sizes on the Paleo diet, especially when dealing with protein? Jeremy Hendon over at Paleo Flourish wrote a great article on that topic! I also mentioned for freezing and canning, didn’t I? I would rather KNOW I froze 1 lb of strawberries for what ever OCD reason, then guesstimate that I froze a lb exactly….. just sayin…
11. Ice cube trays I actually don’t use these for your normal typical ice cubes… I have an ice maker on my freezer. I own 24 ice cube trays and use them constantly for things like:
- Freezing yogurt into cubes for smoothies, or kid treats,
- Freezing homemade banana and nut butter dog treats, that I also enjoy with my dogs… One for Moo, one for Hades, one for Monster, one for Scout and one for MOMMY!! (mash 2 bananas, add 1 tablespoon of your favorite nut butter, spoon into your ice cube trays.. freeze, enjoy. You can store extras in a container or bag in your freezer.)
- Left over tomato paste, when I was using canned tomato paste, I would never use the whole can.. to keep it longer and no waste, freeze it up. My ice cube trays are 2 tablespoon compartments. Now that I am back to making it.. I still freeze it into cubes.
- Preserving fresh herbs for later. You can use water, melted ghee, butter or oil! My favorite combo is sage, rosemary, thyme, minced garlic and avocado oil! Toss in your soups, your sauces, your skillet, your crock pot… defrost and use for a nice salad dressing or dipping sauce… Saute Express ain’t got nothing on us!
- Freezing carmalized onions for the perfect serving. I do these in large batches every Friday evening. A good carmalized onion takes about an hour or so to get just right.. make in batches to make your life easier… use on steaks and other meats, in your eggs, on salads… etc. (yes, defrost the night before you want them for a salad!!)
- Coffee ice cubes for baking, iced coffee and other various fun things. (my fav iced coffee: add your coffee ice cubes to a mason jar, brew and then add a cup of fresh coffee, add a little unsweetened cocoa powder, a couple shakes of cinnamon, with the lid on.. shake it up… add some honey to taste, shake it up again… add some coconut milk… shake it up… drink… you can also blend this for a nice “frap”.)
- Fruited or vegged ice cubes for drinks of all kinds. Simply cut your fruit or veg up, fill with water, freeze, pop into a container. Favorite combo for me: cucumber, lime and mint… toss in a glass of water, iced tea, sky’s the limit!
- Too many things to list, maybe that could be a separate post, someday…
12. Various cutting boards – I have cutting boards galore in my kitchen… bamboo and wood for fruits and veggies, plastic for meats and other proteins. If you own wood or bamboo cutting boards, remember to oil them once in a while.. I rub walnut oil on mine two to three times a month, clean after use with white vinegar and water mix. Plastic, I have a blue one for beef, white one for fish, green one for pork and lamb, purple one for poultry. Remember that plastic holds bacteria so well.. clean them as good as you can. Dishwasher is good, but if you do not have one, (mine is dead and I am saving up for the one I want), I hand wash, spray with hydrogen peroxide, let set for 10 mins.. rinse well. Sometimes I will also run a cut lemon across my boards after I use them pre-wash, lemons are beautiful for killing things that make you sick, not to mention, smell heavenly.
13. Oil Misters – I have one for olive oil, one for avocado oil, one for walnut oil and a spare. Sure saves you money in the long run if you are a Pam or other spray buyer. Trick to keeping the nozzle unclogged… WIPE AFTER USE, wash and dry well before refill! I have heard a lot of people say theirs clogs.. I haven’t had that problem and I have had my olive oil misto for 5 years. As you can see by the image, there are so many pretty colors… you can have a different color for each oil, no confusion, not to mention they look so pretty on a tray on your counter.
14. Muffin tins – Large ones, mini ones, from muffins to personal pizzas… You an also freeze things in these like you can ice cube trays!
15. Cast iron anything – Pots, pans, dutch ovens, bake ware, kettles… you name it, I have it and use it daily. TIP: Never leave these sitting in water. To clean, add water while it’s still hot, boil, wipe out, dry on stove top on medium heat until the water is gone. Season once in a while… I haven’t had to season mine for 6 months.. I am OCD about their care and I won’t let anyone else touch them. If you have one that you THINK is ruined, or buy one cheaply at a garage sale or other kind of resale shop, fear not, you can save it. I am not going to write a tutorial since Kendra at the Prepper Project wrote a good one, same method I have always used! This method does work, takes time, but is well worth the effort, especially when you go home to visit, and find an old cast iron kettle you remember your grandmother using when you were a kid 30 plus years ago….
16. Hand held fine mesh strainers – These are also a given. I like to have a handle on mine, no matter the size. I use small ones to scoop delicate things out of boiling water, such as ravioli, pot stickers, and periogis.
17. Food Mill – These are THE BEST… for making baby food and tomato paste. Sure I love my blender, but there are just things I would rather pull out my food mill for. Remember I mentioned making tomato paste again? This recipe is similar to mine, so going to go ahead and link this one, instead of reinventing the wheel. After you make your paste and have those beautiful cores and skins left, you can use this recipe for putting them to use and making your own tomato sauce with the scraps.
18. Mortar and Pestle – I have an old brass one that used to be my great grandmother’s. I use it for grinding spices like cardamom and other seedy types, nuts, seeds, herbs, etc. Sometimes the old fashioned way to grind things is better than something electric. I always make a mess grinding some things with my blender or processor. PLUS sometimes a processor can heat up and turn things bitter.. like.. garlic…. JUST DON’T DO IT!!
19. Baking Stone – Provides even heat in your oven for baking of all types. From breads to pizza (yes, even cauliflower crust pizza), cookies, etc. I leave mine in the oven all the time, I sit my casserole and roasting pans on top of it also.
20. Unpadded cloth diapers – Why do I have these as a staple in my kitchen, you ask? They are cheaper then cheese cloth, last FOREVER, and are lint free…. strain that beautiful whey out of your yogurts with no worry about lint or dyes going into either. Toss them in the washer on hot, dry and keep in your bin for the next batch of yogurt, or what ever you need to use a cheese cloth to strain.
What are the kitchen tools you can’t live with out? Have any tips to share about your favorite tools, or my must have kitchen tools? Let us know in the comments below!