(Listed in alphabetical order.)
Food Mill | Garlic Press | Grapefruit Knife | Grater | Grease Mop / Fat Mop | Grinder | Hamburger Press | Ice Cream Scoop | Iron | Juicer / Reamer | Ladle | Larding Needle | Lobster Pick | Magic Wand | Mandoline | Measuring Cups/Spoons/Jugs | Melon Baller | Mezzaluna / Crescent Cutter | Mixing Bowl | Mould / Mold | Muddler | Nutcracker
The old-fashioned food mill is the original food processor and some believe it provides more control when precise food texture is desirable than a food processor, blender or mixer. Use it to strain and puree at the same time for sauces, jams, jellies, soups, baby food, pureeing berries or mashing potatoes without over-processing. The handle turns the paddle that pushes food through a changeable strainer disk separating skins and seeds from fruits and vegetables. Disk holes are usually between 3 mm and 8 mm.
An indispensable tool, if you prefer finely chopped garlic, but do not like the fiddly work involved in chopping it with a knife. Simply place a clove of garlic with the skin on in the basket and squeeze the handles together. The pulp and juice will be extracted through the holes. Clean immediately after pressing before it dries. Some have easy clean features such teeth to press into the holes to remove fragments or removable baskets to help remove the peel. Available in aluminium, stainless steel and strong plastics.
A small knife with an upward curved, flexible, double edged serrated blade. Once cut in half, the grapefruit knife cuts between the edge of the fruit and rind and down both sides of the membrane of each segment to separate grapefruit flesh sections for eating with a spoon.
A grater is a convenient and economical way to shred food. They work by pressing food across sharp-edged, perforated holes or slits resulting in small pieces or long, thin strips. Graters are available as a single-sided surface or cylindrical surface or box grater with four-sides. Stainless steel is preferable to tinned steel which will rust.
- A box or 4-sided grater has the advantage of creating a stable surface to grate on in a downward motion while collecting food inside the box. Most come with different size holes; small for citrus zest and fresh ginger, medium for hard cheeses and chocolate, and large for softer cheeses (e.g. cheddar and mozzarella), potatoes and carrots, as well as slicing blades to create uniform thick pieces. Look for handles with a comfortable grip, rubber rim around the base to prevent slipping, easy to clean non-stick surfaces and stainless steel material which is dishwasher-safe and rust resistant.
- A hand-held mouli or French rotary grater works best on small quantities of hard foods such as cheese, chocolate and nuts. Food is placed in a hopper. Pressure from the handle presses food against a grating cylinder with rotates when the crank is turned.
- A nutmeg grater has a curved, fine-rasp grating surface attached to a flat base creating a container in which to store whole nutmegs. Rubbing a whole nutmeg across the grater produces a coarse powder.
Absorbent white strips attached to a long handle which when brushed over the surface of soup or stock absorb floating grease. Wash with hot, soapy water or in a dishwasher. Alternatively, fat will cling to an ice cube drawn over the surface.
Hand-operated or electric machines used to chop or mince food to varying degrees using blades and/or disks.
- Most electric coffee grinders use an exposed, two-prong, rotating blade inside the container to grind coffee, and some nuts and spices.
- Meat grinders force chunks of meat through a rotating blade then either a coarse or fine, perforated grinding disk. Models can be electric or manual with a hand crank and often a clamp-and-screw mechanism to lock it to the worktop.
- A nut mill will produce a flour- or cornmeal-type consistency from nuts. The flour lacks the gluten baked goods need to rise but adds a rich flavour to dishes and baked goods. To use place shelled nuts in the top hopper and turn the hand crank which presses nuts against a cylindrical drum with sharp perforated holes to pulverizing them without releasing their oils. Toasted nuts will give a richer flavour. Generally made of enamelled cast iron with a clamp-and-screw to lock it in place.
- A nutmeg grinder avoids the hassle of grating it and generally stores them inside the device. The device usually has a spring to hold nutmeg against a sharp blade or grater while you turn a crank. Avoid grinding directly over the stove as steam can increase the rate that the nutmeg spoils.
A short-sided, plastic or cast-aluminium cylinder with press used to form uniform hamburger, hash brown or veggie patties. Place prepared food into press onto top of bottom disk. Push down lightly on the plunger handle, twist slightly and remove. The resulting patty will be perfectly round, uniform and flat.
A spoon-shaped utensil used to cut through ice-cream to create balls or oval shapes. Several styles and sizes are available with added features such as a release mechanism. Generally 1 to 3 inches in diameter, some have antifreeze in the handle. Release mechanisms range from a blade which runs across the spoon face to a spring loaded button which release the vacuum seal inside the bowl and frees the ball of ice cream.
Iron sets generally come with heatproof handles and moulds for making timbales (Swedish), and deep-fried cookies such as rosettes (Swedish), diples (Greek) and fritters (Mexican). Inventive cooks can change cookie flavourings and vary pastry-shell fillings to create entrees, appetizers or desserts.
- Timbales are crisp, pastry shells made by dipping a high-sided, bowl-like, iron or aluminium mould first into a batter then into deep, hot fat before unmolding the pastry, cooling and filling with a sweet or savoury mixture. Fillings include fresh fruit or hot creamed/custard-like mixture made of cheese, meat, fish or vegetables. Irons are available in a variety of sizes and shapes such as hearts and stars.
- Rosettes are a small pastry fried until golden brown and then dusted with sugar and/or cinnamon while still warm. A sweet or savoury batter can be used. The batter will cling to the outline of the iron and can be loosened after dunked into the hot oil for about 3 minutes. A rosette iron has a long wand handle attached to an outline form such as a rosette, star, floral, maze and butterfly.
- Greek diples are similar to rosettes and generally dipped in honey, chopped nuts and cinnamon.
- Mexicans sprinkle their deep-fried cookies in sugar, cloves and cinnamon.
A reamer or citrus juicer is a simple, handheld, low-tech tool with a tear-shaped, ridged cone that is still available in natural wood. Simply twist the pointed cone end against halved citrus fruits such as lemons and limes to release the juices. If you don’t have one, fork tines, the bowl of a spoon or simple squeezing the fruit will also work.
Juicers can be a tabletop version of a reamer often in stainless steel. Or, increasing it refers to an electronic appliances used to extract juice from fruit and vegetables. Usually there is no need to peel most food before inserting it into the appliance and it will separate the pulp and seeds into a separate compartment for disposal.
A spoon-shaped vessel with a long handle used to transfer liquids out of bowls into serving dishes. It is sometimes referred to more specifically as a soup ladle or even as a dipper.
An instrument used to inject fat into the interior of typically very lean and/or tough pieces of meat to moisten, enhance the flavour and tenderize while cooking. Lard, also referred to as a lardon, is generally cut from bacon or pork fat, chilled to harden it and can be seasoned.
A lard needle may consist of a slender, heavy gauge steel needle, similar in shape and operation to a sewing needle, whereby it draws a string of lard through pierced meat. Another type, also called a lardoire, is stainless steel with a pointed end and half cut hollow shaft into which a strip of lard is inserted. Once penetrated, generally against the grain, into the meat a metal injector tab releases the fat into the small hole opening.
A long, slender utensil used to help lift out and extract meat from the deep, difficult recess of lobsters and crab shells. The end can be either pointed or a tiny, two-prong fork.
A simple, low-tech wand for more uniform work surface dusting than tossing the powder by hand. Just dip the end of the wand in flour, powdered sugar or coca powder, squeeze the handles lightly or harder for a heavier coating, and gently shake to distribute flour evenly over your desired surface – pans, the tops of bread or dessert for a decorative sprinkling. The handle’s spring action keeps the flour from falling out all at once.
A cousin to the cheese grater, the mandoline quickly and accurately slices uniformly from thin to thick, shreds and cuts precise julienne or French-fry shapes from firm vegetables and fruits. The compact frame comes in wood, plastic or stainless steel with folding legs and interchangeable blades. Most also have finger-friendly food holders for safety when drawing food across the blades.
Exact measuring is an important skill for successful cooking. Even though most recipes are tolerance tested with varying measurements, all measuring should be done with standard and accurate measuring cups and spoons – ones in poor condition or warped will affect quantities.
- Dry measuring cups in metal, plastic and ceramic are generally purchased in a set with 1 cup, ½ cups, 1/3 cup, ¼ and 1/8 cup sizes and are indispensable in American recipes. Choose ones with flat bottoms and consider ones with spouts for easy pouring. Fill to overflowing by spooning and then levelling off using the straight edge of a knife. Only brown sugar and shortening should be tightly packed before levelling. Chunkier foods such as coconut, nuts, chocolate chips and bread crumbs should be lightly packed and then levelled with your finger.
- Liquids should only be measured in liquid measuring cups or measuring jug generally made out of glass. Place on level surface, fill to mark and check measurement at eye level.
- Measuring spoons usually include 1 tablespoon, 1 teaspoon, ½ teaspoon, ¼ teaspoon and 1/8 teaspoon. Some sets even include measures for a “pinch”, “smidgen” and “dash”.
A handled, small, bowl-shaped gadget with ¼ – to 1-inch diameter used to make round balls from vegetables and fruit such as carrots, potatoes, apples, melons and more. Good quality bowls with sharp-edges can cut through food, scoop out cores and seeds and scrap away inner fruit tissues. Some have different size bowls on each end.
A mezzaluna – Italian for “half-moon” – efficiently minces and chops foods as deftly as French cooks ply a chef’s knife, with a simple rocking motion across a specially curved chopping board. First place food on the curved board or other heavy cutting board and with each hand grasp the vertical handles located at both ends of the curved steel blade. Then, rock the messaluna back and forth across the food until chopped as finely as required.
Available in a wide range of materials and sizes, mixing bowls are used to prepare ingredients in before transferring to cooking, baking, serving or individual dishes. Unique features include spouts, non-slip bottoms, easy grip sides, lids, splatter resistant shapes, decorative exteriors and multi-size sets.
Depending on the material used which varies from ceramic, plastic, wooden, glass, stainless steel, stoneware and more, they can be durable, heavy or light-weight, heat-resistant, non-reactive and dishwasher-safe. Every kitchen needs at least a large and small one for cooking and baking.
Food, such as batters, dough, butter, chocolate, aspic, pate, pudding or gelatin-based liquids, is placed, packed or poured into moulds and then generally cooked or chilled until firm resulting in the food taking the shape of the container. Moulds can be small or large in decorative shapes.
A rod with a flattened end usually associated with making mixed drinks, alcoholic or otherwise. A spoon or pestle can also be used to mash or crush ingredients if you don’t have one.
Nutcrackers vary greatly in design, but all work by anchoring the nut and applying the pressure necessary to break the rough, outer coating.