The time has come when you finally feel ready to upgrade your kitchenware – but where do you start? Sure, you already have the basics – measuring cups, whisks, mixing bowls, etc – but which items are worth the extra dollar? As a recipe developer, and food writer I spend a lot of my time in the kitchen, and I found that there are really ten key kitchen investments that can bring your cooking and efficiency to whole new level.
Forget the cheap 8-piece knife sets and go for at least 1 high quality kitchen knife. You only really need one knife to accomplish the various cooking cuts. I prefer using a santoku knife because I feel like I have more control over it than a long chef’s knife, but whatever your preference, make sure you look for the following:
- Make of the knife: High-Carbon Steel makes great quality knives. Avoid buying Stainless Steel knives.
- Forged blades are better than stamped: Forging makes the metal stronger.
- Learn to care: Even if a knife claims to be “dishwasher safe-“ always hand wash and dry. The high heat and water in the dishwasher will dull the blade faster. Also, learn how to properly sharpen your knife, which bring me to the next kitchen essential…
Now that you’ve bought an expensive blade, you have to know how to hone it. A knife that claims it never has to be sharpened is cheap and will most likely have to be thrown out once it dulls down. There are four ways to sharpen your knife:
- Stage Sharpener: For the amateur sharpener, this is the best product. The ceramic sides will guide your blade for a precise edge. Using this device however can sometimes ruin the angle of your edge, in which case you try to learn to use a…
- Sharpening Steel: Yes, it seems intimidating since you have to angle the blade the right way (20°) for both sides of the blade. You often see professional chefs honing their blades this way (rapidly sharpening the edge), but speed doesn’t play a part in sharpening so take your time.
- Sharpening Stone: Use this to realign your edge when it has dulled down from constant use or steeling. Make sure you angle it precisely for at least 30 strokes to correct the edge.
- Extra Tip: If you bought a quality knife, chances are you can ask the manufacturer to re-sharpen it for you free of charge. Go to the store where you bought it and ask for help. They will definitely be able to find out for you. At the very least, they will be able to guide you through sharpening your knife with the products mentioned above.
A Dutch oven can do everything a pot can do, except it can do so much more! I would venture to say that it’s more important to have a Dutch oven than it is to have a stainless-steel pot just through its sheer versatility. It is also designed to enhance the slow-cooking process by evenly heating the food. It can also handle temperatures up to 500°F making it perfectly oven safe.
In the same way as Dutch ovens are to pots, cast-iron skillets offer more versatility than a fry pan. Its heavyweight, which makes it optimal for low-fat cooking since it requires very little oil. It is also optimized for providing even, steady heat – making it perfect for grilling meats and baking delicious frittatas!
It’s a lifesaver. Really, it is. From making pie dough to making soups- this device can really increase your kitchen efficiency.
Vitamix or an Immersion blender:
Making sauces and soups have never been easier. Obviously, if you’re going to be juicing and blending large amounts, a Vitamix is better, but hand-held immersion blenders are better for smaller tasks such as making small-batch pesto, vinaigrettes or pureeing soups.
You honestly can’t have too many. I have at least a dozen and I use them all the time. From mixing and stirring and tasting to deglazing – these babies are the workhorses of the kitchen.
If you’re dabbling with the idea of becoming a more serious baker, it is best to use a scale to measure out your ingredients. It is definitely more precise than simply using cups and spoons and will certainly produce more consistent results.
From ice cream to testing the doneness of your turkey, this device takes the guesswork out of the equation.
Sure, you can do everything you need to do with a hand-held mixer, but if you want to free up your arm to do other things than whipping those egg whites to stiff peaks- then a stand-alone mixer will be a surefire efficient investment.
Building your kitchen will take time and a lot of money, but investing on the right tools and key pieces can make cooking and entertaining a lot more enjoyable. Invest in quality pieces early on, and you will find that you will save money in the long run. Just be sure to learn how to properly take care of these pieces over time. When in doubt, ask. With proper care, these kitchen items can stand the test of time. Bon Appetit!