Cooking Tools – A Multitude of Kitchen Helpers
Cooking tools include kitchen knives but they also include other kitchen tools as well from kitchen spoons to hand held juicers.
These kitchen tools in the form of kitchen utensils can help make tasks such as removing pasta from a pot to a serving dish less messy, ladling soups from pot to bowl quicker and squeezing lime juice over a dish a breeze.
What are some of the necessary cooking tools that make our life easier in the kitchen?
I. Basic Must Have Kitchen Utensils
These sets generally contain all of the basic items that are needed for stirring and handling foods during cooking and serving, and of course unlike spoons and forks which are used for eating these utensils are larger with larger surfaces and long handles. These cooking tools are commonly made of stainless steel, plastic, silicon or wood.
Stainless steel utensils are generally preferred for stainless steel cookware and silicon is generally preferred for nonstick cookware to protect the finish from being scrapped off; however with the advent of nonstick cookware that is ceramic based it is easier to use the much preferred stainless steel on these types of cookware since the nonstick material is fused into the cookware not applied as a coating.
These spoons are generally used to stir preparations such as soups and stews as they are cooking, as well as vegetable preparations that are being browned in the skillet before adding the ingredients to the rest of the dish. The best spoons for stirring while cooking are actually wooden spoons, since metal spoons can react with the contents of the pot or skillet when cooking due to the heat.
Slotted spoons also called draining spoons are used to remove solid pieces from their liquids during or after cooking.
The ladle is a spoon with a long handle and a deep bowl, they come in sizes from small which are used to scoop out gravies and sauces and large ladles with handles that can hang over a pot and are used to scoop out soups or stews from large stock pots. There are ladles of glass or clear plastic with handles that attach to punch bowls and are used to serve up punch or eggnog.
The skimmer is a ladle or slotted spoon used for skimming or removing the fat and scum from the surface of liquids especially from stocks, soups and casseroles. This type of tool has a larger surface than a regular slotted spoon.
These are a great invention for scooping up noodles or stringy pastas such as spaghetti, with a rounded forked base with a drainage hole in the middle and a long handle. These types of spoons keep those slippery noodles from sliding all over the place and help pasta to arrive at its intended destination instead of all over the floor or the stove.
These type of long handled forks generally have two tines or prongs and are excellent for picking up pieces of meat from the pot or skillet, as well as for pinning a large piece of meat during the carving process, so that it doesn’t slide around on the platter or in the roasting pan.
Spatulas can come in three types, a long flat, narrow knifelike tool used for spreading icing, a wider square surface with or without holes and used for turning foods such as pancakes or meat patties such as burgers, and a rubber tool used for stirring the contents of bowls and scraping the sides of the bowls.
The whisk is one of those multitasking cooking tools made of looped stainless steel wires commonly called the balloon whisk and used for whipping and aerating ingredients such as eggs, egg whites, creams and emulsifying sauces, this is the marvelous tool that turns heavy cream into a light fluffy cream with plenty of height and volume. Although the balloon whisk is the most common there are other types such coil whisks which are used to blend shallow mixtures in a pan or bowl.
Here’s a great little video on choosing cooking tools such as whisks and spatulas
Tongs are cooking tools with large gripping ends for holding and transferring such foods as meats and pasta such as spaghetti from a skillet or water to a platter. Some tongs are designed for general kitchen use and others are designed for grilling.
II. Other Kitchen Utensils
Although it is not necessary to have all types of cooking tools or gadget out there, here are some other kitchen utensils that can help make food preparation in the kitchen a not so tedious task.
Can openers really belong in the must have category, whether a manual hand model or one of the electric models, because there are many items that we do use from the can at times such as tomatoes.
The garlic press is a great little invention that allows for the pressing of whole cloves of garlic into pulp by inserting the clove between the handles and squeezing the handles together, which can cut the work of peeling and cutting garlic into usable pieces considerably.
Fruit and Vegetable Peelers
These kitchen tools have a blade attached to a handle either horizontally or vertically and are nice tools for removing the skin from fruits such as apples and vegetables such as potatoes by scraping the blade over the skin of the fruit or vegetable to remove it.
Graters are cooking tools used to shred food by moving the food over the surface of the utensil’s sharp holes or perforations. Some graters are in the shape of a tapered box and have different types of perforations on two of their sides for grating and shredding. One popular use of graters is the shredding of solid cheese and other thinner graters are used to zest or scrape the skin from citrus fruits such as lemons, limes and oranges to use in recipes.
Hand Held Citrus Juicers
There are many types, sizes and levels of juicers that are used in the kitchen, the citrus juicer is a small hand held device that a lemon, lime or orange half is inserted into and the juice squeezed out for use in the preparation of a specific dish that may call for one of these citrus ingredients.
Scoops are generally thought of for mainly scooping ice cream, but these handy tools can be used to scoop such foods as cookie dough onto a baking sheet, resulting in nice even consistently sized cookies. There are also scoops that are used for dipping into and measuring out flour, corn meal, and sugars for baking, these types of scoops can be metal or plastic.
Meat pounders are also called meat mallets or meat tenderizers based on what they are designed to do which is to break down the fibers in meat through pounding to make the meat tender. These tools are usually made of metal, wood or sturdy plastic and have spikes on the surface at the head of the tool which break down the fibers are the meat are pounded.
Bench and Bowl Scrapers
Bench scrapers are also called dough scrapers and are generally a sheet of metal with a handle used to manipulate dough and to clean the work surface as well as to remove pieces of dough from the bowl that it has been resting or worked in. This handy tool is not just for dough it can and is often used to scoop vegetables off of the cutting board and into the skillet for cooking.
The rolling pin is a long cylindrical kitchen tool that can have handles or not have handles, used for rolling out pastry dough. Although these tools can be made of plastic, stainless steel, porcelain, marble or wood, the most popular material is wood.
Pastry brushes are small brushes with a flat or round head joined to a wooden handle, used to brush pastries with egg washes, milk washes, brushing oil or butter into a baking pan or muffin tin or brushing pizza sauce onto pizza dough. The brushes are sterilized natural bristles, nonabsorbent and easy to clean.
This is a hand held tool for mashing boiled potatoes or other cooked root vegetables such as turnips or carrots. This tool generally has a rounded grill at one end with holes and a handle at the other end, the tool is held straight down over the potatoes or other vegetables to be mashed as the potatoes which have generally been peeled first are smashed into a softer consistency.
Colanders are perforated bowls that come in small, medium and large sizes, used to drain hot foods or to wash foods such as vegetables, meat, pasta, and fruit that are being prepared as ingredients to a meal.
Preparation bowls generally come as nested sets with bowls of various sizes that can be used to prepare ingredients of different sizes. These bowls come in glass, stainless steel and plastic.
Mesh strainers are cooking tools that come in various sizes and are great tools for straining liquid off of canned ingredients or for washing small foods such as rice. These kitchen tools generally have handles and there are even some that have handles that extend to fit them over a sink under the water facet for washing larger vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage, kale, mustard and collard greens. These are also great kitchen tools for sifting flour into a recipe. There are even tiny strainers called tea infusers for straining and steeping tea leaves.
Splatter screens are great cooking tools for keeping the kitchen free of grease splatters and are designed to be large enough to fit over a skillet.
An oven mitt is a great addition to other cooking tools such as pot holders for handling hot items from the oven and helps to protect the hands from oven burns.
For some interesting information about cooking tools click on the link to ehow.com
For some great sections on cooking tools, some great references are:
• The Taste of Home Cookbook – All New Edition from Taste of Home Books, Reiman Media Group
• The All New Good Housekeeping Cook Book, Edited by Susan Westmoreland, Hearst Books, New York
• Betty Crocker Cookbook – New Edition, by Wiley Publishing, Inc.
• The Food Encyclopedia by Jacques L. Rolland and Carol Sherman with other contributors
• The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2010 by The Editors of America’s Test Kitchen
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