The following list is one I have thought long and hard about since opening The Pan Tree. There are many blogs and articles with similar lists, all with very important tools essential for the kitchen. As individuals, we all have varying degrees of skill in the kitchen; therefore the ones recommended are “basic” essential tools for occasional and seasoned cooks. From here you can add to your collection based on what you love to prepare! All are products tested, tried and recommended by staff at The Pan Tree.
1. An Excellent Chef’s Knife- Nothing was more apparent to me as the importance of a great knife especially after I finally used one! We had been using mediocre knives in our home kitchen for too long and when I finally brought a new high quality knife home, I could not believe I lived without one for so long. I would recommend a chef’s knife to start as it is the most versatile. The size will depend on what feels more comfortable for you. My partner prefers an 8” as it fits better in his hand, but I like a 6” for my smaller grip. My personal favorite is Wusthof’s Classic Ikon cooks knife.
2. Honing Steel- Once you have a really great knife you will want to care for and maintain it properly with a honing steel. Use your steel after each use to bring back the edge on your knives and prolong performance.
3. Cutting Boards- Continuing with the cutting theme, a good cutting board is also important to prolong the life of your knives. Although easy to clean, glass cutting surfaces are hard on your sharp knives. Instead, opt for a thick natural wood or composite wood board. Epicurean offers bonus non-slip grips on their boards. Plastic is also a good option and you can rotate several cutting boards in the kitchen changing them according to the type of food you will be chopping. I like to have one each specifically for veggies, raw meat, and cooked food to prevent cross contamination.
4. Stainless Steel Cookware- Buy the best you can afford. You will likely use this cookware nearly every day and good quality will last nearly a lifetime. You may decide to buy an entire set or individual pieces depending on your needs but, a couple sizes of saucepots and frying pans and a stock pot are essential. Look for multi layered cookware with either an aluminum or copper core for the best heat distribution.
5. Cast Iron Skillet- You may not use it every day but, you will definitely find it useful for certain applications. Nothing beats a steak seared in a cast iron pan and finished off in the oven or BBQ. Cast iron retains heat longer, is ideal for sealing in juices and becomes seasoned with time lending to great non-stick properties. Try Le Creuset’s enameled skillets.
6. Non-stick Fry Pan- This may seem a bit of overkill having so many frying pans in the kitchen and granted, having just one will get you by but, nothing cooks eggs better than a ceramic coated frying pan. Most of our staff would agree as we all own one!
7. Gadgets- It’s really difficult to pick just one or two kitchen gadgets for the kitchen so I will list the top three that I think are the most essential to every day cooking.
· Spatulas- there are many kinds but, your best bet would be a silicone and a metal offset spatula, both ideal for cooking and baking. Cuisipro makes several quality varieties.
· Garlic press- if you love garlic, a press is a must. Mince, crush or slice your garlic in seconds! Choose dishwasher safe models for easy cleaning
· Cooking tongs- great for easily handling meat and vegetables. Look for silicone ends with teeth for gripping.
8. Thermometer- If you are a seasoned chef you may not have the need for a thermometer because you know when your food is perfectly cooked just by touching it! For everyone else this is a must have.
9. Good Oven Mitts- Burns are preventable especially if you have oven mitts in the kitchen. We like Kitchen Grips neoprene mitts for the heat resistance and easy care. Silicone is another good option.
10. Immersion Blender- This handy electric appliance makes cream based soups and whipping cream a breeze. Kitchen Aid and Krups models come with lots of handy extra attachments like whips and choppers.
I'd love to hear your recommendations for "must have" kitchen tools. Post your suggestions below.
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