Walk into any kitchen in America and you will find a kitchen cluttered with a collection of gadgets, tools and various other assorted essentials that change little from one home to the next. Then there are those homes that really have it all together. Households headed by people who armed with a lifetime of acquired or learned knowledge about how to cut the clutter and still get every job done. When it comes to the essential kitchen tools you must have, there is but one magic word.
1. Pizza Cutter
Talk about a misnamed product! Most people buy a pizza cutter and use it for just one very obvious purpose. Aside from slightly less obvious uses like cutting through cookie cakes, quesadillas and any other doughy product, the pizza cutter also makes shredding veggies from lettuce to onions to mushrooms a breeze. But it’s not even kitchen uses that makes the pizza cutter as essential to every kitchen as a knife and fork. Pizza cutters can be used to score cardboard boxes for folding; slicing through dried glue and even to helping to unstuck a painted window.
2. Veggie Peeler
A high quality veggie peeler is another essential kitchen tool for reasons that actually go beyond multitasking. The main reason that a peeler should be essential in every kitchen is that they provide one of the key elements vital to all kitchen work: increased safety. Using a peeler is just plain less dangerous than trying to peel with a sharp knife. Beyond the safety component, however, the veggie peeler is another misnamed gadget. Call your peeler into service to make any dessert taste better by shaving a bar of chocolate into the mix. Making something that calls for soft butter and all you’ve got is one hard stick? Use your gadget to peel off tiny strips that will soften in minutes. (Hint: the same deal works for cheeses, as well).
3. Melon Baller
Okay, let’s admit it, a melon baller seems like one of those frou-frou kitchen items that only TV chefs ever use. Shame on you! Such prejudice is probably why you have a cluttered kitchen right now. Here’s the skinny on melon ballers: you need never eat a melon from the day you buy one to make it a worthwhile investment. Here’s just a sampling of the many ways that a melon baller can become essential in your kitchen: making those cute little balls of butter for serving at formal occasions, scooping out the underside of mushrooms, adding just the perfect amount of hot sauce to recipes, a no-mess way of stripping tomatoes of those unseemly seeds and, depending on the size of the melon baller you use, standardizing the serving size of stuff like cookie dough.
4. Waffle Maker
You are not seriously only using that waffle maker to make waffles, are you? It is time to bring your kitchen into the 21st century and in the process dump all those little monotasking gadgets you bought on impulse from the As Seen on TV section of the store. Prepare to get rid of your panini maker, your quesadilla maker and even your pizza pan because a waffle maker is actually better for creating hot sandwiches, quesadillas and stuffed pizzas. You know what else a waffle maker is great for? Bacon of a consistent quality, s’mores, pretzels, cornbread, scrambled eggs, hash browns and, last but not least, the perfect Reuben or Monte Cristo sandwich.
The thing that makes tongs essentials for every kitchen is really less about multitasking. As far as multiple tasks for tongs go, things basically boil down to all the daily uses for which they come in handy: grabbing hot things from the oven without burning yourself from potatoes to pizza, extricating items stuck in the toaster, tossing salads, moving things around inside the water in which they are boiling and even getting at hard-to-reach items. But here’s the single most important reason to stock a set of tongs in your kitchen so at least one will always be clean and available. Flavor. Tongs make your food more flavorful because when you use them, you aren’t using gadgets with sharp points to move food around. Every time you stab a piece of meat with a fork or anything else with tines, you create holes through which juices escape from the interior to the exterior. Another word for juices is flavor, you see, so using a pair of tongs that allows you carefully grasp pieces of meat without puncturing equates with keeping flavor from escaping.
The number of kitchens in America either completely without a whisk or with whisks not used to the full extent of their ability is probably mind-blowing. Like a melon baller, the probably may be that many people just plain think that unless they are big time time bakers, a whisk is pretty pointless. Here’s the reason why a whisk is not just most assuredly not pointless, but actually essential: air. The architecture of whisk construction is designed to do one thing above all else and that is increasing the amount of air within any substance being “whisked.” That means the eggs you scramble using a whisk will be fluffier than the eggs scrambled with a fork. That means that you control the consistency of any creamy that you whip with a whisk rather than relying on the settings of a power appliance. Using a whisk means bigger, thicker and lighter pancakes and waffles. And for the coffee aficionados out there, if you haven’t been using a whisk to whip up foamy concoctions, now is the time to start learning what you’ve been missing.