Not-quite-desert-island kitchen tools

kitchen tools

Chefs, food writers, and other culinary authorities often make lists of must-have tools that should be in everyone's kitchen. Usually indispensable tools like chef's knives, spatulas, mixing bowls and other workhorse items are featured on these lists. There are, however, tools that might not make the "desert island" status of these inventories yet are still cherished pieces that we would be reluctant to part with no matter how tiny our cooking workspace.

Although these gadgets might not be in our primary tool drawer, they play an important role in our cooking. Two of the three tools pictured above live in my secondary tool storage. (No comment on whether I also have tertiary or quaternary tool storage areas). While the two remain out of sight, the meat pounder/tenderizer always rests within easy reach because it's become an indispensable piece of kitchen equipment. I have never seen this item on anyone else's "can't cook without it" list, but it might make mine.

I use the meat pounder for its intended use, of course, although I have found it handy for many other tasks. It's great at crushing peppercorns, garlic, graham crackers, ice - pretty much anything that needs to be crushed. It works better than other tools like rolling pins (no good for stinky stuff) and skillets (too unwieldy). I also use the pounder for tamping crumb crusts and bruising herbs for cooking and cocktails. The 'tenderizer' side never touches meat, but it does dock pie dough, form peanut butter cookies, and make designs in shortbread, all much faster than a fork. When not in use, the grip serves as a holder for a skillet handle cover.

Unlike the tenderizer, the coring tool is largely a uni-tasker, but it does the job so well. I'm not adept at using a paring knife to core tomatoes and strawberries, and this tool does the task so easily I will likely never need to master that skill. I've also used the back of the corer to form a perfect pattern on the edge of a pie crust (in my kitchen, all tools lead to pie).

The final tool is another that I reach for with increasing frequency. It was packaged as a tea infuser, although I've never used it for that. Most often it sees service as a mini-sifter for powdered sugar or cocoa. It is so easy to load with a small amount of either substance without any mess - just dip, clamp, and sprinkle. I also use it to remove unwanted bits of debris from frying oil or other liquids. I have even used it to anchor the twine of an herb bouquet to the side of a pot (the spring has more force than you might think).

What out of the ordinary kitchen tools do you find indispensable to your cooking and baking?


  • ellabee  on  6/7/2016 at 5:56 PM

    :: dip, clamp, and sprinkle :: That's brilliant. I use one for loose tea and for steeping whole spices in broth, but for minor dusting usually reach for the small fine sifter that's right beside it in the utensil drawer. Will try the tea device next time.

  • hillsboroks  on  6/8/2016 at 12:24 AM

    Pie is one of my specialties and a few years ago I discovered that I could use the bottom of my 11 inch tart pan to carefully move my just rolled out crust to the pie pan with no risk of tearing it. I just carefully slide the tart pan bottom under the crust and tilt to slide it into the pie dish. I love the tea infuser being used for so many other things. This is going to make me look at all the kitchen tools in my kitchen with an eye to alternate uses. Maybe we need a Forum section on this for everyone to share their discoveries?

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