5 Kitchen Tools That Turn Cooking Into a Fun Weekend Project
Spend your Saturday with these cool kitchen tools.
Listen, you never need a reason to spend a weekend in, but in case you were looking, I’ll see your one and raise you five, in the form of kitchen tools that you probably don’t have but definitely should own. The tools below can turn an otherwise underwhelming weekend on the couch into a productive marathon of experimenting with new ingredients, techniques and recipes...and eating everything you make. They’re gifts that keep on giving, so go ahead and give them to yourself.
Imagine a world where ground meat doesn’t come in plastic-wrapped, pastel-colored styrofoam trays with carefully calculated fat percentages. With a meat grinder, you can live your meat-loving truth and grind whatever cut your heart desires from your butcher: charcuterie, sausage, meatballs, you name it. This bad boy can grind up to 175 lbs of meat per hour, has juicing capabilities—because life is all about balance—and a foot pedal. All it takes is a couple taps of the pedal to the metal, and you’ve got a bratwurst, weisswurst, knackwurst, meatball, or burger exactly how you want it. And if you’re feeling really ambitious, grind your own masa for the best, most nutrient-rich corn tortillas ever made on your personal plancha.
WATER SEALED FERMENTATION CROCK
There’s no time like the present to teach yourself the ins and outs of kimchi, make your own kombucha, or pickle anything, really. A water-sealed fermentation crock is here for your pickling and preserving needs, and it makes the process nearly effortless. There are quite a few benefits to the ceramic crock versus a standard canning jar (not that there’s anything wrong with that)—they’re bigger and can evenly ferment your foods in larger batches than said jar. They’re prettier, they block out the sun and oxygen, they facilitate beneficial bacteria, they kill off mold and scum, they reserve plenty of brine, and they trap in odor. Can’t compost? Throw your scraps into the crock and you’ll have a salad-y scrap slaw in no time.
As a resident of Brooklyn, I don’t have the luxury of a backyard, or even the slightest outdoor space. But I refuse to let that stop me from smoking my own food, because you just never know when the craving for smoked whitefish or a rack of baby backs will hit. The stovetop smoker allows me to smoke whatever I want, whenever I want, in the comfort of my own tiny apartment (much to the chagrin of my neighbors, I’m sure). It removes the hassle of dealing with Mother Nature, and you can achieve the same rich, smoky flavor and fall-off-the-bone tender meat without even putting on clothes. Mix it up with different flavored wood chips and meats, and even throw in fish, vegetables, and tea leaves. Get lost in the smoker, and definitely don’t sleep on the smoked chicken wings.
Some of the best kitchen tools are the ones you can find at your local hardware store, which means you can likely find them in your garage, basement, wherever. A blow torch will add a layer of flavor to whatever you’re cooking, and its close-range and small-size allow you to remain entirely in control, all while enjoying the sheer power of throwing flame.
Here are five things I like to make with a butane torch:
- Evenly melted cheese on nachos
- Flame-kissed fish
- A proper sear on steak
- Uniformly glazed ribs (not to be redundant or anything)
- Charred or brûléed fruits and vegetables
When was the last time you bought a bag of dried apricots at your local market and thought they weren’t overpriced? Exactly. Food dehydrators are good for cutting the cost on dried fruit and veg, and preserving peaches and tomatoes beyond their prime months (then rehydrating them for preserves or pies). They’re a pretty bulky tool, but you can do all sorts of things with them: put your shiny new meat grinder to use then dehydrate your freshly ground prize into jerky. Dry some chilis and grind them into a fine powder for a signature spice rub—you know you’ve always wanted one—to use on everything, including said jerky. Make yogurt or kombucha scoby jerky in one, or use it as a proofbox for your sourdough starter. The most important thing to know about dehydrators is that you can’t over-dry your food, even if you forget about it for a day or three...or so I’ve heard.