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Dummies’ guide to Cooking Tools

Posted on: 16 Nov 2013

Cooking utensils are simply tools needed for food preparation and cooking. There are many different types of cooking tools and the right ones will help you in your cooking. Stock up on the essential items first before investing in other specialty tools.

Here are 4 tips to help you get started on your kitchen needs.

1. Define your purposes
Consider how much time you spend in the kitchen in order to decide the variety of kitchen utensils to have. For those who occasionally whip up a meal at home, getting the basic tools will suffice. For cooking enthusiasts, investing in specific utensils will save you precious time and lets you focus on cooking a great meal.  You need not invest in a set and picking a few quality utensils will be more rewarding.

2. Pick the items that are versatile
For starters, choose tools that are always used in most of your recipes. Here is a list of kitchen utensils that can be used in any cooking.

Ladle
Get at least one with a mouth about 3-4" wide for serving soups, or moving hot liquids like spaghetti sauce from pot to pot or to a serving bowl without pouring, spilling, and scalding. If possible, get one with the hook so that you can hook the ladle on the pot while cooking.
Ladle by Jamie Oliver
Ladle
by Jamie Oliver (Retail Price: $19.20)

Long handled spoon and fork
The spoon is used for stirring sauces or soups while the fork is used for stirring pastas or noodles.
GOURMET SERIES Nylon Spoon by Epicurean
GOURMET SERIES Nylon Spoon by Epicurean (Retail Price: S$11.24)

Spatula
Good for stir-frying, flipping pancakes on the griddle, and scooping from deep containers. The most important function will be to keep the heat away from you when you are cooking.
Slotted Spatula by Jamie Oliver
Slotted Spatula by Jamie Oliver (Retail Price: $19.20)

Tongs
A necessary tool for turning and lifting high temperature food hence good for grilling or barbecuing. Can be used for tossing salads and plating as well.
CINQUE Silicone Tong by Pavonidea
CINQUE Silicone Tong by Pavonidea (Retail Price: $16.32)

Measuring cups and spoons
Helps to get precise proportions of ingredients. One point to note is that dry and wet measuring cups are different. Most measuring cups and spoons come in a set.
Measuring Spoons by Jamie Oliver
Measuring Spoons by Jamie Oliver (Retail Price: $9.60)

Grater
A flat surface which comes with different cutting surfaces ranging from fine to coarse. Instead of slicing with a knife, you can just slice it with the grater and obtain more consistent results.
Artisan Series Extra Coarse Grater by Microplane
Artisan Series Extra Coarse Grater by Microplane (Retail Price: $19.26)

Peeler
A safer and faster alternative to peeling with a knife. Peel apples and carrots in no time.
All-Purpose 3-in-1 Peeler with Blade Storage Kit by Jamie Oliver
All-Purpose 3-in-1 Peeler with Blade Storage Kit by Jamie Oliver (Retail Price: $20.80)

Colander
Helps to drain and dry your vegetables while rinsing. It also prevents scalding (as compared to using a pot) when draining off hot pasta. Save yourself from the hassle and mess by using a colander.
PLIE' Collapsible Colander by Pavonidea
PLIE' Collapsible Colander by Pavonidea (Retail Price: $23.54)

Oven mitt and pad
These tools minimise any burns in the kitchen. While an oven mitt protects your hands, the oven pad which comes in a thick fabric or silicone protects your kitchen counter.
Neopreno Square Trivet by Ibili
Neopreno Square Trivet by Ibili (Retail Price: $10.70)

Kitchen scissors

Differs from the usual scissors as it has a longer blade and one side of the blade is serrated which can cut through meat or fish. Usually made of stainless steel which prevents rust and requires low maintenance.
Herb Scissors by Westmark
Herb Scissors by Westmark (Retail Price: $13.91)

Chopping board
It is important to have at least two chopping boards, one for meat and the other for vegetables and fruits. This prevents germs from spreading. A sturdy, non-slip board will benefit you tremendously.
NON-SLIP SERIES Wood Fibre Cutting Board by Epicurean
NON-SLIP SERIES Wood Fibre Cutting Board by Epicurean (Retail Price: $39.86)

3. Materials of utensils
Most utensils are made from wood, stainless steel, silicone, aluminium or Teflon. Choose the material which can complement your cookware and other kitchen equipment. Ensure that the material selected will not scratch your pots and pans. The most common mistake is to use utensils made of metal on non-stick surfaces which can damage the surface.  Also, ensure that wooden utensils are sanded smooth and nothing can splinter into the food.

4. Special features
There are many specialty kitchen utensils which you can purchase if cooking is your passion. Kitchen thermometers can be used to check the doneness of the meat while zesters can be used for making garnishes. A aortar and pestle is handy for grinding fresh and dried herbs or making your own paste.

5. Storage for utensils
Having a tall vase or container beside the stove would be an ideal spot for storing your kitchen utensils. Otherwise, put them where it is within reach and ensure the chosen spot is not damp to avoid mould and breeding germs.