5 Truly Time-saving Kitchen Tools

Posted: Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Interested in saving time and aggravation in the kitchen? But not interested in cleaning a million little parts and rearranging your cabinet space? Then try these 5 food prep tools. These items, which reduce prep time without being more trouble than they’re worth, are:

1. Salad Spinner

This first one will catch a lot of people by surprise, especially those who remember the original versions that were so big you almost needed a dedicated cabinet for them. Today’s salad spinners come in a full range of sizes, some meant for just 1-2 people and small enough to store with other bowls and containers. The spin button on most models locks down to save even more space. They’re perfect for washing salad greens and herbs, but you can use them for anything leafy like celery, and leaks (great for getting the sand out). Salad spinners are also great for washing a variety of fruits and vegetables, from peapods to grapes.

2. Hand-Held Mandolin Slicer

A mandolin slicer is a hand-operated kitchen tool that, among other things, slices, dices and juliennes vegetables without sharp knives and with little effort. A hand-held mandolin slicer is portable, flat, and fits nicely into a kitchen drawer. The blade is adjustable and also very sharp so be careful when you’re working with it.

3. Microplane Grater

The Microplane has a long body with teeth and comes in several grades from extra fine to coarse. It’s good for grating, shaving, shredding, zesting, curling, and even pureeing a variety of ingredients including hard cheeses, lemons, and hard spices. The newer Microplanes are extremely sharp (be sure to use the protective sheath while storing in a drawer), very sturdy, and easy to clean and store. Like most kitchen tools, there’s a technique for using it. Once you get that down, you’ll be able to come up with 1,000s of uses for this handy, inexpensive device.

4. Portion Scoops

The difference between foods with a gourmet presentation and other foods is in the details. And using portion scoops is one of those details. They look and operate like traditional ice cream scoops, but they come in a variety of sizes (anywhere from 1/2 ounce to 4-2/3 ounces) and you can use them to easily make everything a uniform size.

For example, a portion scoop is the difference between a plate of misshapen random cookies and something that looks like a gift from a high-end bakery. These scoops are a must at the holiday season because they make the task of scooping cookie dough a breeze. They are versatile and can be used to scoop anything from muffin and cupcake batter to meatballs and much more. Plus, if you’re a calorie counter, these scoops are a great way to stay in control.

5. Colored-Coded Cutting Boards

In order to prevent cross-contamination and save time, have at least 2 cutting boards in different colors. You’ll save time by being able to cut meats on one board, fruits and vegetables on another, etc. without having to stop and wash the board between uses. To be on the safe side, professional cooks typically have 6 colored-coded boards: one each for raw meat, dairy, fish, poultry, cooked food, and fruits and vegetables. Best of all, today’s colored-coded boards are thin and take up very little dishwasher and storage space.

The best way to save time is to always use the right tool for the job. It’s a tried and true axiom that applies to so many things. I know how frustrating it is when you follow a recipe to the letter and your creation doesn’t turn out well. Often times, it’s not the fault of the cook or the recipe; it’s simply lack of the right tool.