There are literally thousands upon thousands of kitchen gadgets one can own, from adjustable rolling pins to cutting boards with built-in strainers. But do we seriously need all these specialty items that take up room and clutter our space? Most chefs will say to stay away from gobbledygook and nonsense items that most people forget they own or can’t operate. Cooking experts say that well-functioning kitchens can get by with about 20 kitchen staples; necessary items to achieve success in cooking. Here are five from the list that chefs believe every functional kitchen should have:
• Chef’s knife – This knife should be of sound quality and be multipurpose so that it can be used for slicing, dicing, and cutting a variety of food items. A sharp knife that cuts well can increase kitchen safety, as putting too much pressure on a dull knife can cause loss of control which can lead to kitchen injuries. Since cutting is an essential kitchen skill, to a chef, a good knife is worth its weight in gold.
• A 9 x 13-inch baking dish – This multipurpose dish can be used in the oven to roast or bake – and even broil -meats and vegetables. And it can be used for baked goods such as birthday cakes or brownies. Due to its generous size, foods cooked in this baking dish can feed a few or even a crowd. And many recipes such as casseroles and lasagna are tailored for this perfect size baking dish, making it truly a kitchen gem.
• A big pot – Everyone who enjoys pasta knows that a large pot is essential. Not only can it be used to boil hot water and pasta, but a nice size pot is also useful for other recipes, including cooking homemade pasta sauces (or gravy) or boiling a whole chicken to make homemade chicken soup. A decent pot is a very important kitchen staple because it can also be used for frying and sautéing, and most come with lids that can help keep cooked foods warm. Pots may also double as mixing bowl in a pinch, so they are a win-win for the kitchen.
• A large cutting board – Cutting boards are essential kitchen items because they protect countertops and provide a nice work surface for cutting. A large solid board is generally more desirable than a small thin cutting board as it enables users to adjust their hand slicing motions more freely and there is also more room for the cut food. Wooden cutting boards are often favored over plastic, not solely because they look nicer, but because they can also double as practical serving boards for cheese. As a bonus, wood boards will not harm your knives’ blades. Per a study by the University of California at Davis, wooden cutting boards tended to trap potentially harmful bacteria allowing them to die, whereas plastic tended to harbor and spread bacteria. Either way, be sure to thoroughly scrub your cutting boards using hot water and unscented dish soap. Or place your plastic cutting boards in the dishwasher.
• A measuring cup & spoon set – Being able to measure ingredients accurately is among the most important steps when baking goods. In baking, as a golden rule, it is important to measure dry and liquid ingredients precisely. Failing to do this can equate to recipe disasters. While some people believe that using a food scale produces the most accurate measurement results, for most recipes a measuring cup and spoon set work just fine. Though cooking has more leeway and room for improvisation, most people prefer to follow recipes and measure ingredients to get optimal results, especially when attempting new recipes.
Nowadays, people tend to be easily swayed by infomercials selling cheap gizmos. They become convinced that their kitchen cannot function well without these newer gadgets. But before any of us dig deep into our pockets, we must honestly assess whether we will use the item in question– or if it will become just another fancy gadget that we don’t use that adds clutter to our drawers or cupboards.