(Listed in alphabetical order.)
A small, perforated metal or mesh basket container in a variety of shapes and sizes used to place tea leaves in to avoid straining before serving. Fill infuser up to half the size of the infuser to allow the leaves to expand in hot water for no less than 3 minutes (to allow the flavour to escape) and no more than 5 minutes (to avoid a bitter tannin taste) for tea by the cup or pot. Mesh infusers tend to have smaller openings so less of the leaves come through. The infuser can be removed either through a handle or chain which slips over the rim of a teapot.
A tea strainer is used when tea leaves are placed loose in the teapot. Strain as soon as possible after brewing to avoid a bitter tannin taste. Choose one that fits inside your cup.
A handy tool to take the guesswork out of cooking. Using a thermometer every time you cook raw foods, reheat food or store food will prevent foodborne illness, ensure food is cooked or stored at a safe temperature, and prevent overcooking to get the best flavour from food. Harmful bacteria, including salmonella and Escherichia coli, multiply rapidly in mid-range temperatures and are only destroyed at high temperatures. A thermometer can ensure foods are held at a safe temperature (below 40°F or above 140°F) until served.
Meat thermometer/Food thermometer
A tool used to measure the internal temperature of foods, such as meat, poultry and other dishes to ensure a safe temperature is reached and food is cooked to the desired degree of doneness. Research has shown that colour and texture are not reliable indicators to ensure that all bacteria have been destroyed so using a thermometer is the only reliable way. Types:
- Digital thermometers provide a digital readout quickly by placing a probe with a sensor at the end in food generally toward the end of the cooking time. They are generally not oven-safe and should not be immersed in water. Ideal for measuring the temperature of thin foods such as hamburgers and chicken breasts. A digital thermometer is a little pricier, but faster and more precise than dial.
- Dial or analog or bimetallic-coil thermometers contain a coil with two different metals bonded together, each with different rates of expansion, from the tip to about 2 to 2½ inches up along the long metal stem. The average temperature registers on a round dial positioned on top. Overall an analog thermometer is inexpensive with an easy to read dial and does not require batteries.
- Single-use temperature indicators are designed to indicate certain temperature ranges depending on the intended foods. Making it important that they are only use for food designed for. Designed to be used only once until sensor reacts once temperature is reached.
|Name||Speed||Depth & Placement||Oven-safe||Description|
|Thermocouple||2 – 5 s||1/4″ or more as required||No||Readings are gained by measuring the temperature at the junction of two fine wires located in the tip of a thin (1/16″ or less) probe. Useful for thick and thin foods and its speed allows for convenient measuring in a number of locations. Can be calibrated for accuracy.|
|Thermistor||10 s||1/2″ minimum||No||Uses a resistor – technically a ceramic semiconductor bonded with a temperature-sensitive epoxy located in the tip. Measures thick and thin foods. Some models can be calibrated.|
|Oven Cord Thermometer||10 s||1/2″ minimum||Yes||A thermistor-type probe is attached with a long cord to a base unit placed inside or outside the oven. Allows for reading without opening door. Can also be used for foods outside the oven. Cannot be calibrated.|
|Microwave-Safe Temperature Probes||Yes||Especially designed to work in microwave ovens. One end is generally plugged into the microwave while the other end is inserted into the food being cooked. Some can be programmed to operate until the desire temperature is reached.|
|Thermometer Fork Combination||2 – 10 s||1/4″ minimum in thickest part||No||A thermocouple or thermistor device embedded in one of the fork tines with the digital reading on a panel on the handle. Useful for thick and thin foods. Cannot be calibrated.|
|Oven-safe bimetal||1 – 2 min||2 – 2 1/2″ in thickest part||Yes||Ideal for roasts and poultry. Tracks temperature throughout cooking without opening the oven door thus saving energy and convenient. Difficult to accurately measure foods less than 3″ thick. Metal conducts heat faster than food so tip may skew results so test in at least one other place for accuracy.|
|Instant-read bimetal||15 – 20 s||2 – 2 1/2″ in thickest part||No||Can be used on thin foods if inserted in the side. Some can be calibrated.|
|Pop-up indicator||5 – 10 s||1/2″ approx||No||Commonly found in poultry but can be purchased for other types of meat too. Because the stick pops up when the specified temperature is reached there is no problem reading it. Functions by a soft metal in the end turning to liquid releasing the stick and the tension in the internal spring pops the stick up.|
|Disposable probes or sticks||5 – 10 s||1/2″ approx||No||Designed to turn colour when the sensor end reaches the specified temperature in food.|
|Liquid-filled (glass or stem) also called spirit filled or liquid in glass|
|Glass or metal stem||1 – 2 min||2″ minimum in thickest part||Yes||Coloured liquid in glass or metal stems expands and rises against a scale during cooking. Not designed for thin foods. Metal heat conduction can cause false high readings. Glass stem may break in food. Some can be calibrated.|
If used correctly, all are accurate to within plus or minus 1 to 3°F. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Unless a thermometer is specially designed for microwave cooking do not use one and instead test food once removed. Times, speeds and placement are estimates.
How To Use
Before using check the manufacturer’s instructions to know the proper usage and how far to insert the thermometer. And be sure to wash after each use.
The following can be used as a guideline if instructions are not available.
- Clean with hot, soapy water
- Insert oven-safe thermometer into food at the beginning of the cooking time and leave to rise slowly throughout cooking. Or, remove from oven and check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer.
- Insert straight or at a slight angle into the thickest part of the food without touching bone, fat, or gristle; for poultry this is the inner thigh. If irregular shape or a combined dish such as a casserole, check temperature in several places. Thin foods, such as hamburgers, chicken breasts or pork chops, may require insertion into the side instead (and dial thermometer should be avoided for this type of food). Insert to the recommended depth. A dimple on the side of the stem of a dial thermometer can suggest how far to place in the food.
- Check toward the end of cooking but before food is expected to be done.
- Compare your reading to the recommended internal temperatures to determine if food has reached a safe temperature and desire doneness.
- Clean with hot, soapy water.
Not all thermometers can be check but for those that can there are two ways.
- Using the ice water method, fill a large glass with finely crushed ice and then fill with water to the top. Immerse the bottom 2 inches of the stem or probe in the glass which should read 32° after 30 seconds.
- Alternatively, bring a pan of water to a rolling boil and immerse the sensor. The temperature should register 212°F after 30 seconds.
If incorrect adjust the calibration nut where available.
Most bacteria are destroyed between 140°F and 160°F but different meat and poultry are done at different temperatures. Ground meat, unlike whole meat, exposes the interior meat to bacteria from the surface, air and grinding process so it requires the highest temperature to ensure safety.
The temperature foods must reach to be considered safe and done irrelevant of the cooking method.
|Ground meat & meat mixtures||Beef, pork, veal, lamb||160||Turkey, chicken||165|
|Fresh beef, veal, lamb (including roasts)||Medium rare||145|
|Poultry||Chicken & turkey, whole||165|
|Poultry breasts, roast||165||Poultry thighs, wings||165|
|Duck & goose||165|
|Stuffing (alone or in bird)||165|
|Egg & egg dishes||Eggs||Cook until yolk & white are firm|
|Leftovers & casseroles||165|
(Source: USDA Recommended internal temperatures, last modified March 16, 2007)
A thermometer used for gauging the temperature of liquids such as deep fat, and/or sweets, syrups, jams and jellies. Choose one that registers from 100° to 400°F and with features for safety and ease of use such as plastic handles to grip and adjustable hooks and clips for attaching to pans. Dual-purpose ones have readings for both candy and deep fat.
Appliance thermometers measure the air in an appliance and tend to be one of two types:
- Liquid-filled (also called spirit-filled or liquid in glass) are the oldest type whereby a coloured liquid expands and rises to indicate the temperature on a scale.
- Bimetallic-coil function by means of a coil which is fixed at one end and attached to a pointer stem at the other. As temperature increases, the two different metals bonded together to form the coil expands at different rates and rotates the pointer.
This thermometer accurately measures the temperature inside the oven which may be incorrect on oven dials. To check, hang the thermometer from a rack in the centre of the oven. Once preheated to the set temperature, open the door and read the measurement. If not correct, an authorized service centre representative will need to adjust it but if it is consistently high or low by the same amount, you could factor this difference into the temperature setting. Different varieties are available but some believe mercury ones to be more accurate and reliable.
The older the fridge or freezer the wiser it is to invest in a thermometer to ensure it is cold enough to prevent bacterial growth and spoilage. Food not stored below 0° will loose nutrients and quality, and food will spoil if stored above 40°F. Ideally a refrigerator should be between 38 and 40°F.Some refrigerator thermometers have a long metal probe similar to food thermometers but most are designed to hang from a wire rack or sit on a shelf. To use, position it at the top front and leave for at least 6 to 8 hours without opening the door before checking. It will register temperatures from -20° to 80°F. If the temperature is incorrect, adjust and check again in 6 hours.
Designed like giant tweezers, tongs can turn, toss, hold, lift and serve all kinds of hot or cold food. They give you more control than a spatula or fork and are especially useful as a heatproof tool on hot elements especially on grills or in the oven but are just as useful for salads and pasta.
Tongs vary in length from eight to eighteen inches and come in a variety of material such as metal, wood, bamboo and nylon. Longer ones allow you to stand further away from the heat source. Spring loaded tongs give you a firmer grip and self-locking features keep them closed when not in use. Tongs can be a single piece, scissor shaped or consist of several pieces of which cheaper ones will eventually come undone so consider a well made one.
- Cooking or utility tongs come in all shapes and sizes – heavy duty, large heads with perforated holes or slots, or oval with a scalloped edge, locking mechanism and almost all have the ability to hang on a peg.
- Ice tongs are a sanitary tool and generally feature concave grasping ends designed to firmly grip a slippery ice cube.
- Salad tongs are generally made of plastic or wood with round ends for serving fresh salad greens and can be either two serving spoons or scissor shaped.
- Spaghetti tongs feature special indentations designed to grip pasta.
- Snail tongs work opposite to most by opening when squeezed thus securely holding the hot shell with minimal effort so the snail can be extracted.
- Barbecue tongs are extra long to allow you to stand further away from the heat source. Choose heavy duty ones that can handle hefty cuts of meat.
A timer is a must in the kitchen. It is too easy to get distracted and forget to remove food from a heat source or remember when to turn food. Choose between a digital, dial or built-in one. Turn a countdown windup ones all the way to zero then back to the desired time – for increments up to an hour. Consider one with a long, loud alarm; a stand, magnet or clip to position it in a convenient location; and concurrent, multiple settings if required.
A board or decorative stand to place hot containers on while protecting tabletops and counters from the heat. Can be a simple wooden board, elaborate metal base with short legs or round ceramic disk with a decorative pattern.
A small, handheld kitchen tool with an adjustable razor sharp blade designed to perfectly slice truffles. The truffle is pressed down and across the blade shaving off small or thick slices. Most can also be used for garlic, shallots, vegetables, fruit and cheese.
A needle approximately 4 to 10 inches long threaded with twine used to tie roasts, poultry, game and fish into a neat shape before cooking. If not available, use skewers to secure food.
Whisks combine and aerate ingredients. Handheld whisks are designed for blending, beating, whipping, and even whisking dry ingredients for baking. The spaced wires agitate and disperse ingredients in several spots at once, while the area in between lets air into whatever you’re mixing. A whisk’s wires may be thin and flexible – ideal for beating and whipping – or thick and rigid – useful for stirring and preventing lumps in gravy, sauces and custards.
Choose a sturdy, durable, comfortable whisk with stainless steel, tinned steel or nylon-coated wires firmly embedded into the handle. Shorter ones work well in mixing bowls while longer ones with better reach work well in pots. Ones with more wires will work faster, wires gathered close together at the tip grant more thorough mixing and a sturdy, sealed off handle will ensure water doesn’t get trapped and the wires don’t disengage.
- An all-purpose whisk, also called a sauce whisk, is the most versatile and ranges from a few inches long to several feet long. Sauce whisks are great for countless tasks, including making dressings, where the wires smash oil into the droplets needed to form an emulsion.
- A balloon whisk’s full rounded profile gets lots of air into ingredients and is especially good for whipping cream and egg whites.
- A flat whisk (or roux whisk) is ideal for deglazing and blending pan gravy because the flat shape can get into corners and the bottom of a shallow pan or skillet.
- An egg beater has no redeeming value except quaintness. Hang it on your kitchen pegboard for eye-catching decoration, and use a whisk.
A zester allows you to grate the zest, the outer layer or coloured part of the skin, of citrus fruit to release its aromatic oils. Some zesters look like a grater with tiny, razor-sharp teeth while others work like a vegetable peeler with tiny, circular holes which allow you to create long, perfectly formed tiny peel. The grater style can also be used for grating hard cheeses such as Parmesan, Pecorino and Romano, or for grating nutmeg, chocolate and ginger.