Making meals is a bit like doing magic. You mix a few ingredients together and viola…they turn into muffins or a mixed vegetable mix!
Some days you may wish your magic wand was faster, that it didn’t take you so long to clean, peel, chop and toss fresh vegetables for a salad, or to measure, toss, beat, toss and cook a pan.
In search of faster cooking magic, several internet discussion groups made up of dieticians, home economists, chefs and other food professionals were asked to indicate their favorite cooking tools to win time.
The response was overwhelming! Here are numbers 11-20 of over 30 tools to speed up your kitchen performance.
Tool 11: An assortment of whisks – A whisk can be your quick and smart companion on many culinary adventures. Match the size and shape of your whisk to the task. An article on the Bon Appetit website (www.epicurius.com) recommends a “big stiff whisk” for food in large pots; a “medium whisk for soups, sauces, creams and custards;” and a “small whisk” for “dressings, sauces and folding flour into dough”.
Some whips are longer and narrower, others look like big balloons. Use the “Balloning-est” when you want to beat a lot of air into a mixture, such as whipped cream and meringue. Choose beaters with thin, flexible wires for whipping air into batters, and sticky, stiffer wires for thicker mixtures such as brownies.
Choose whips that have the area sealed where the wires enter the handle. This helps ensure your whip stays lean. These whips may be more expensive, but will likely last longer and cost less over time. Look for “dishwasher safe” whisks to save time and ensure your whisks are thoroughly and safely washed.
Tool 12: 1 and 2 liter microwaveable glass dough bowls – Use these versatile tools to measure/mix (batters, sauces and toppings); cook food in the microwave; and reheat foods you wish to pour, such as soups. Many come with plastic lids so you can use them for storage too!
Tool 13: A good quality vegetable peeler –Quickly and evenly remove the outer skin of fruits and vegetables with a sharp and durable vegetable peeler. Many have a sharp, rounded edge at the end to show the “eyes” of the potatoes.
Tool 14: A digital timer – Help stay on top of your kitchen chores with this battery-powered appliance. Time the exact seconds, minutes or hours needed for a cooking process. Many come with a flip-up stand and a magnetic mount, so you can always keep them handy. Some can be attached to your belt if you need to leave the kitchen. Others come with a string to hang around your neck.
Tool 15: Kitchen utensils with ergonomic rubber handles – many cooks find these specially handled tools easier to use, especially if they use a certain tool, such as a vegetable peeler, for long periods of time. One cook specifically mentioned a 2-piece hinged grater that doesn’t “leak out”. You can hang this grater over a bowl or plant it firmly on your counter.
Tool 16: Egg/Mushroom Slicer – If you’re using hard-boiled eggs in salads etc., you might like one of the small egg slicers with closely spaced wires to make perfect slices. Look for one described as strong enough to slice mushrooms as well.
Tool 17: A set of “Scoop” measuring cups – For items such as sugar, oatmeal, rice, etc., quickly scoop out the amount you need. Some spoon-type cups are a cross between a spoon and a regular measuring cup – they have a long handle attached to a cup base.
NOTE: You wouldn’t “scoop” flour for most recipes. To avoid packing, it’s usually a good idea to measure the flour by lightly pouring it into your measuring cup.
Regardless of your preferred type of measurement, you may want to own at least two sets to save cleaning time between uses.
Tool 18: Cookie Dropper – If you make a lot of cookies, use this tool to make more even cookies in less time than you can by dropping the dough from a spoon. Cookie droppers look like mini ice cream scoops where you push a lever on the handle to push the dough onto cookie sheets.
Tool 19: Funnels – Kitchen funnels are useful for transferring loose items into smaller containers. A cook ground a week’s worth of coffee, put it in a jar and put it in the cupboard. The rest of the beans went to the freezer. If you are transferring ground coffee to a smaller coffee container, a funnel comes in handy. It is also ideal for filling shakers from a larger sugar packet.
Tool 20: Detergent dispenser with a brush on it – Save an extra step by dispensing soap as you scrub. Some distributors may work better for you than others. See if you can buy one from a store where staff have tried the product.