10 Essential Cooking Items
Equipping your kitchen with everything you need to whip up delicious meals can be overwhelming. There are thousands of kitchen appliances, gadgets, pots and pans on the market today. It can be hard to know what is necessary and what will be a waste of counter space. All you need to cook most meals is a simple set of high-quality cooking items. These basic items allow you to cook and bake tasty everyday recipes while being versatile enough to be used in more complex recipes or international cuisines. After outfitting your new or updated kitchen with a complete kitchen appliance package, ensure you have these ten basic kitchen items.
Mixing bowls are essential to any kitchen cupboard. You can use bowls for any purpose but, obviously, they are best for mixing ingredients for baking or cooking. It’s a good idea to get various mixing bowl sizes, but if you can only choose one, a medium size bowl — usually 2½- 3-quart size — is big enough for most basic recipes.
A Good Set of Knives
No kitchen is complete without a good set of sharp knives. Most chefs suggest getting three knives: a paring knife, a serrated knife and a chef’s knife. A paring knife is perfect for smaller cuts or items like fruit, while a serrated knife is best for cutting bread. If you can only get one knife, go with the chef’s knife. It’s a good “do-it-all” knife that, if treated well, will last you a long time and can tackle any recipe you attempt.
Consider buying a knife sharpener to help keep your knives in good working condition. Not only will your knives last longer, but a sharp knife is safer in the kitchen because a dull knife requires more pressure to cut, increasing the chances it will slip.
Cast Iron Pan
Cast iron is high-maintenance, but cooks who have learned to properly care for their cast iron swear by the ease of cooking and the depth of flavor it offers. The pan also distributes heat evenly, allowing new or unpracticed cooks to better regulate their temperatures and doneness. It can be used for almost any recipe, from frying and sauteing to baking in the oven. To keep your pan in the best condition, avoid cooking anything acidic like beans, tomatoes, or citrus juices unless your pan is highly seasoned and you are skilled and confident enough to deglaze the pan with wine after. Cooked improperly, acidic ingredients can strip your pan of its seasoning and cause discoloration; so, for newbies, it’s best to be cautious.
Without the right tools for the job, stews will stick to the pot and meat will burn in the pan. There are several essential cooking utensils that no kitchen should be without, including a wooden spoon, silicone spatula, large balloon whisk, metal spatula, slotted spoon, kitchen shears and tongs with metal or silicone tips.
A stock pot can be a versatile tool to help you cook soups, stews or pasta. A 12-quart pot is the most versatile option, with enough size to accommodate most recipes and a wide base to allow for even heating.
Measuring Spoons and Cups
Whether baking or cooking, measuring spoons and cups can help you recreate your favorite recipes. For baking, it’s vital to accurately measure ingredients to ensure bread, cakes and cookies rise and cook properly. When cooking, it’s not as necessary, with most cooks adding seasonings or ingredients by look or feel. But new or unpracticed cooks should try to measure their ingredients to ensure they aren’t under- or over-adding ingredients before they become second nature.
You can use a sheet pan in multiple ways, from baking cookies, cooking pizza and roasting vegetables to baking granola or foil-wrapped dinners. For a starter kitchen, an 18×13-inch pan is perfect (called a half-sheet pan). When looking for the best pan for you, think about what you might be cooking. Some sheet pans come in a nonstick option that helps keep your cookies or veggies from sticking, but it may not be safe under the broiler. An aluminum option is an excellent all-around option, suitable for the oven and broiler; however, you’ll need to use baking paper or a silicone mat to minimize clean-up.
Nonstick Cookware Set
A reliable nonstick cookware set is one of the most valuable tools in the modern kitchen. The nonstick coating keeps your food from sticking and burning while making cleanup a breeze. Nonstick pans also tend to be lighter than other cookware and require much less maintenance to keep working correctly.
However, you should never use metal utensils on these pans because they’ll scratch and ruin the nonstick coatings. You should also never preheat while empty, never rinse with cold water and never clean it in the dishwasher. Make sure the nonstick coating is not made of Teflon if you own birds, as it is toxic to them. A nonstick ceramic coating is safe to use around your avian friends. Caraway cookware sets are excellent ceramic nonstick pans that work great and have a beautiful and unique design to go perfectly with any kitchen style — plus, they are safe around birds.
If you’re using a knife, you’ll need a safe and stable surface to protect your table or counters and keep your ingredients in one place. While a wooden cutting board is ideal for dry items like bread, a set of color-coded plastic cutting boards is more suitable for preparing produce.
The CDC recommends using a separate cutting board for raw poultry, meat and seafood and another for fresh produce and bread. This prevents accidental cross-contamination. If you use one cutting board for all ingredients, you can sanitize your board with one tablespoon of chlorine bleach mixed with one gallon of water. You should flood the board’s surface with the bleach solution and allow it to stand for several minutes. Then rinse with clear water and air dry.
Glass Baking Dish
A glass baking dish is necessary for any kitchen, especially a home kitchen. From casseroles to sheet cakes and party dips, a glass baking dish can be used for numerous recipes. Glass retains heat longer than metal, meaning you can keep your dessert warm on the table while eating dinner. It’s non reactive with acid, so it’s perfect for baking with citrus or berries. A 9×13 dish is the standard option that will get you through most recipes. You can find baking dishes today that come with storage lids or carrying containers for transporting hot foods.
Home Kitchen Basics
Knowing which items to buy can be stressful when shopping for your new home kitchen. But with a handful of basic items, you can easily cook or bake numerous recipes, from everyday options like lasagna to a complete holiday meal.