Is Your Kitchen Stocked with These 5 Essential Tools?

As a city-dweller with limited kitchen space, I run a tight ship. If a tool is collecting dust at the bottom of the drawer, it’s out during the next spring clean. There are, however, a number of tools that I could never bear to part with.

They’re not fancy or hard to find, but they make my life easier and more, well, fun in the kitchen. All of these tools can be found at most department stores, catalogs or mail order sites, so there’s really no excuse for being under stocked.

1. Y-Shaped Vegetable Peeler

Compared to swivel vegetable peelers, I prefer Y-shaped ones because they offer better control. I use them to remove the tough outer peels on vegetables like cucumbers and winter squash, but they also work well on other foods like chocolate, hard cheeses and coconut flesh. At just a couple dollars each, they’re so inexpensive that there’s no reason to only have one.

2. High-Quality Knives

For basic kitchen prep, I like a chef’s and small paring knife. These two tools can tackle almost anything that comes to your cutting board. The best quality knives are built to last a lifetime, and are well worth the investment. Just take very good care of them. That means washing by hand, and never, ever using them to pry open cans (don’t tell me you’ve never thought about it)!

3. Grater
Whether you want to add a flurry of cheese on top of a pasta dish, zest citrus or create decorative chocolate shavings, a nice grater is a must. There are many to choose from, but I prefer the slim paddle kind to box graters, since they can be stored in a drawer.

4. Instant-Read Thermometer
If you’ve ever been guilty of under- or over-cooking meat, an instant-read thermometer is a lifesaver. They’re small, easy to store, and come in digital or analog. Besides meat, they come in handy for tempering chocolate or making homemade candies.

5. Tongs
When I was in culinary school, one of my instructors said to think of tongs as an extension of your hand. So true! Besides reaching for baked potatoes in the oven, tongs are great for flipping food over in a pan or on a grill. And for vertically challenged people like me, I can reach things in higher shelves with no problem.

What tools are essential in your kitchen? Tell us about them in a comment!

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