After looking at the basic pantry items in Pantry Basics 101, 102, and 103, I thought we could turn our attention to basic kitchen tools. If you are going to keep the pantry stocked and do some cooking around the house, this series will look at the basic hardware you will need.
First, you are going to need a cutting board. There are a lot of options out there, but my basic cutting board is a large 16”x24”cutting board I’ve had for …. a long time. The size gives me space to work on larger items like whole chickens or knead mounds of dough when I am baking bread. Because it is wood, there are a few special factors about its care. Aside from washing in hot soapy water, the board is given a regular rub down with white vinegar and also rubbed with food grade mineral oil to keep it sanitary. A close runner up in my kitchen is the set of plastic color-coded cutting boards (yellow for poultry, red for meat, green for vegetables, purple for seafood) that I can use to prevent cross contamination.
When you are cutting things on the board, you have to be cutting with something. The first knife you should have is a chef’s knife. I have a santoku style scalloped 8” Wustof knife that does the vast majority of my cutting. Chef’s Knives come in a variety of sizes, but you want an 8” or 10” one to start as it will give you the most flexibility. As far as brands, price isn’t the issue – how it feels in your hand is. For me, the Wustof has a balance that works well with my hand and how I cook, but you should experiment for yourself. It could be that a $30 10” Chef’s Knife from the kitchen supply store is your best bet. A corollary is that you will want to pick up a honing steel to keep your knives in working order – a sharp knife is a safe knife.
Cast Iron Skillet
Once you have your food prepared, it has to go somewhere. The first cooking vessel you buy should be a cast-iron skillet. It is heavy and holds heat well. If you season it properly and take care of it, it will have a non-stick layer. It holds up to stove top and oven use, can be cleaned with minimal fuss, and can double as a flat top grill if you flip it over. The best part is that they are rather inexpensive but will last you for decades or longer with that proper care.
Spring Loaded Tongs
Your food is hot and in the pan, so now you need to do something with it. I have three pair of these tongs that are sitting on the oven handle to use when cooking. We are cooking, so using heat, and the tongs will let you grab hot things without burning yourself as well as manipulate different food without cross contamination. My pair on the right of the oven handle is always used for proteins while the left is always used for vegetables.
This is probably the tool I reach for the most often in the kitchen. A wooden spoon doesn’t conduct heat and won’t scratch any of your pots or pans. This one was a gift from my parents almost twenty years ago and was one they used while I was growing up. These babies will last if you get a good quality one. Every once in awhile, like the cutting board, this gets a rub down of white vinegar and a rub down of food grade mineral oil when dry.
Do you have all 5 of these items in your kitchen right now? We have more Kitchen Basics coming down the pipe, so is there something you think we missed you hope is making a future appearance?