is a little
like making magic. You toss some ingredients together and voila ...
change into muffins or a mixed vegetable medley!
days you may wish your magic
wand was speedier. That it didn't take quite so long to clean, peel,
and mix fresh vegetables for a salad. Or measure, mix, beat, blend and
cook a casserole.
search of faster kitchen magic,
several Internet discussion groups of dietitians, home economists,
and other food professionals were asked their favorite time-saving
tools. The response was overwhelming! Here are 30+ tools to quicken
Tools of the Trade
1: Garlic Peeler
type mentioned most frequently is
a rubber tube you place the garlic in, roll it a couple of times and
skin comes off. An added benefit: No more garlic smell on your
2: Anything Dishwasher Safe
for the magic time-saving words
"dishwasher safe" before purchasing any item! Don't buy anything you
to wash by hand until you check to see if there's a comparable
item from another company.
the dishwasher saves time and
helps assure kitchen items are thoroughly and safely cleaned. Plus,
your utensils in the dishwasher gets them out of sight
4: Own More Than One Cutting
3: Flexible Plastic Cutting
plastic cutting boards are
favorites with several people. After cutting vegetables, fruits or
you can lift them up and pour the contents into whatever bowl or pan
using. They're also dishwasher safe!
cross-contamination when cutting
different types of foods for the same meal by owning several cutting
This is especially important if you're cutting raw meats, poultry or
and then need to cut ready-to-eat foods. With more than one cutting
you can avoid spending extra time washing your board before cutting the
5: Pump-Spray or Mist-Spray
Bottle for Oil
this nonaerosol sprayer with your
favorite oil and use for flavoring vegetables, coating pans and grills
or spraying directly on bread. NOTE:
advertised for use with oil.
6: A Good Quality, Sharp Chef's
tool is a must in many cooks' kitchens.
Use a chef's knife to quickly chop, cut, slice, dice and mince fresh
You can do some procedures faster with a chef's knife than with your
processor. It's important to keep your knife sharp. Check what type of
sharpening procedure or device the manufacturer of your knives
7: Food Processor and Blender
food processor can make quick work
of slicing, dicing, shredding, grating and chopping -- especially for
quantities of food. For smaller quantities, hand-held kitchen tools
as a chef's knife or a grater sometimes are faster.
blender makes quick work of pureeing
ingredients, such as for soups, and is terrific for making smoothies!
a heavy-duty blender if you want to crush ice. Some people like an
blender for pureeing soups in the pot or frothing hot
8: Lots of Colanders
you tend to wash and/or drain a lot
of foods for meals, an extra colander or two may save you time and help
9: Kitchen Shears
sharp kitchen shears can perform
many tasks, from cutting herbs, bacon and pizza to trimming dough to
chicken and cutting poultry joints. Many are labeled dishwasher safe
will separate for more thorough cleaning. As with any sharp item, use
If you wash shears in your dishwasher, place them in a location where
won't bump against other items or cut someone on removal.
10: Apple Corer/Wedger
this tool to quickly core and separate
apples and pears into wedges. You also can buy just an apple
11: An Assortment of Whisks
whisk can be your quick and clever
companion in many food adventures. Match the size and shape of your
to the task. An article from "Bon Appetit's" Web site recommends a
rigid whisk" for foods in large pots; a "medium whisk for soups,
creams and custards;" and a "small whisk" (about 10 inches long) for
dressings, sauces and folding flour into batter." Some whisks
longer and narrower -- others are like big balloons. Use the
ones when you want to beat a lot of air into a mix, such as whipped
or meringue. Choose whisks with thin and flexible wires for whipping
into batters, and thicker, more rigid wires for thicker mixtures such
brownies. Choose whisks that have the area sealed where the wires go
the handle. This helps assure your whisk stays clean. These whisks may
be more expensive, but will probably last longer and cost less over
Look for "dishwasher safe" whisks to save time and to help assure your
whisks are thoroughly and safely washed.
12: 1- and 2-Quart Microwave-Safe
Glass Batter Bowls/Mixing Cups
these multi-talented tools to measure;
mix (batters, sauces and toppings); cook foods in the microwave; and
foods you want to pour, such as soups. Many come with plastic covers so
you can use them for storage, too!
13: A Good Quality Vegetable
and evenly remove the outer
skin from fruits and vegetables with a sharp, durable vegetable peeler.
Many have a sharp, rounded edge at the end to pop out the "eyes" of
14: A Digital Timer
keep your kitchen tasks under control
with this battery-operated device. Time the exact seconds, minutes or
needed for a cooking process. Many come with a flip-out stand and a
backing, so you always can keep them handy. Some can be clipped to your
belt if you need to leave the kitchen. Others come with a string to
around your neck.
15: Kitchen Tools With Ergonomic
cooks find these special-handled
tools easier on their hands, particularly if they use a certain tool,
as a vegetable peeler, for extended periods.
16: Egg/Mushroom Slicer
you use hard-cooked eggs in salads,
etc., you might like one of the small egg slicers with closely spaced
for making perfect slices. Look for one described as strong enough to
17: A Set of "Scoop" Measuring
items such as sugar, oatmeal, rice,
etc., quickly scoop the amount you need. Some scoop-type cups are a
between a scoop and a regular measuring cup -- they have a long handle
attached to a cup base.
You wouldn't "scoop" flour
for most recipes. To avoid packing, it's usually advisable to measure
by spooning it lightly into your measuring cup. Regardless
of your preferred type of
measuring cup, you may wish to own at least two sets to save clean-up
between different uses.
18: Cookie Dropper
you bake lots of cookies, use this
tool to make more uniform cookies in less time than you can by dropping
dough from a spoon. Cookie droppers look like mini ice cream scoops
you push a lever on the handle to push out dough into muffin
funnels are helpful for transferring
bulk items into smaller containers. One cook ground a week's worth of
put it in a jar and stored it in the cupboard. The rest of the beans
in the freezer. If you transfer ground coffee to a smaller coffee
a funnel is handy. It's also great for filling sugar shakers from a
package of sugar.
20: Detergent Dispenser With
A Brush On It
an extra step by dispensing soap
as you scrub. Some dispensers may work better for you than others. See
if you can buy one at a store where the staff tried the
21: Salad Spinner
you're washing lettuce, spinach leaves,
etc., this tool is a must. Simply toss in your washed greens and "spin"
them dry. These products work in various ways. Some have knobs you
Others operate through a push-down mechanism. Check around to find one
with the features you like.
22: Long-Handled Bottle Brush
cleaning tool is great for cleaning
in the crevices of jars and bottles. It also works well if you're
to get your brush in close around the inside bottom edges of pots and
23: Multi-Functional Baking
Dishes and Mixing Bowls
cupboard space and cleaning time
by purchasing baking dishes suitable for baking, microwaving and
food. Likewise, purchase microwave/oven safe mixing bowls suitable for
storage and attractive enough to set on the table!
24: Non-Stick Skillet With Sloping
utensil helps you cook with a very
small amount of oil, and clean-up is quick! The sloping sides make it
to turn and remove food. To protect the nonstick surface, use spatulas,
stirring spoons, etc. made for use with this type of coating.
25: Heat Resistant Spoon-Shaped
scrape and stir again at the stove
with this one utensil. Once you try these, you may want them in several
26: Jar Opener
your only jar opener is a flat piece
of rubber or you don't have an opener at all, check out the kitchen
section at your favorite store. Some of the latest models let you stick
the jar lid between two prongs and twist. If you're tired of holding
under hot water, hitting lids on the counter or giving up and reaching
for a different food, this may be the tool for you.
27: Cheese Slicer
you eat a lot of cheese sandwiches,
this tool makes quick work of slicing a block of cheese. These are
handy if you make toasted cheese sandwiches; all the cheese is the same
width and melts at the same rate.
28: Small, Narrow, Long-Handled
this kitchen utensil to scrape out
the last bit of food from the nooks and crannies of jars.
29: Multi-Tiered Food Storage
handy way to store your spices for
quick and easy access is to purchase the small stair-step type storage
shelves. Many have three levels for storing spices and other small
Some will expand to fit various cupboard widths. Larger sizes may be
for storing bigger containers such as cans, olive oil, etc.
30: Food Clips
clips that snap shut and look
sort of like hair barrettes are great for fastening opened bags. Keep a
bunch handy in your kitchen for quickly closing bags of frozen
time-saving kitchen tools
mentioned that you may wish to check out include:
keep in mind this suggestion from
one person: "My most effective ‘helper' at the moment though
is my daughter.
Involving family members in food preparation has multiple benefits,
pot -- Check the publications
on the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service Web site (www.fsis.usda.gov/OA/pubs/slocookr.htm)
for information on "Slow Cooker Safety."
pasta pot with colander insert
measuring cup for liquids
electric food processor/chopper
hand-operated food processor/chopper
thermometers (helps you save guessing
time trying to decide when food is done!)
grinder for grinding seeds, nuts,
And For Your Last
these time-saving kitchen tools,
you can perform one final magic trick: DISAPPEAR
from the kitchen
IT QUICK!, University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension
Complete Illustrated Reference
to Ingredients, Equipment, Terms, and Techniques Used by Le Cordon
John Wiley & Sons, 2000.
Mixing Bowl Set
Opener with Ergonomic Handle