Kitchen Essentials You Need… And Those You Don’t

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You can find a gadget for pretty much any kitchen job, be it cookery or cleaning – but it can be hard to figure out which are true essentials and which are simply a waste of money. You don’t want to end up with shelves upon shelves of dusty old gadgets that got used once, or worse, having to throw them away because they broke the first time you used them. So to help you wade through this I’ve compiled some tips on the basics that you definitely need, and some guidance on what to avoid.

The Basics

You’ve probably cobbled together a set of basics over the years – and you’re probably either pretty happy with your faithful old collection, or you wish you could start from scratch and have a gleaming new set of everything. Whichever camp you fall into, it’s worth considering upgrading anything that’s seen better days. The technology used in bakeware has progressed in leaps and bounds in recent years, particularly when it comes to non-stick coatings, so have a good hard look at what you’ve got and assess whether it’s time to say goodbye. A particular essential that commonly gets overlooked is a really great roasting tin. It will make such a difference to your Sunday Roast, and will really take your gravy to the next level, as with a proper non-stick coating you’ll be able to get all the flavoursome bits that normally stick to an older or lower quality pan. It’s a similar story with cake tins: one or two good quality non- stick springform tins, perhaps in a couple of sizes, are worth more than the five or six flimsy, leaky loose-bottoms you may have collected over the years. Have a look at Viners for some great choices.

Another really key item is an electric hand mixer. It’s one of those things you might feel you could live without, but trust me:  trying to bake anything without one is a nightmare, particularly if you need to stiffen egg whites or whip cream. No matter how long you stand there with a manual whisk it just won’t be quite the same. This one is a bit pricey, but it’s worth investing a bit more in electrical kitchen goods, as they’ll last so much longer and are likely to have better warranties.


What to Avoid

Fundamentally, anything that’s just too good to be true – or too complicated. For most jobs simpler is better, so stick to what you know works. Companies are constantly inventing new gadgets that are trying to become the next must-have, but it very rarely happens; inevitably you’ll spend a fortune on a shiny new tool and use it once before putting it away in a cupboard and returning to your true essentials. It’s important to acknowledge, though, that your needs may change over time, so it’s possible that something you would have scoffed at in the past could become essential now. For example, I always laughed at the idea of a bread-maker – why get a machine to do what I’m perfectly capable of doing by hand? But as my workload has increased and I’m spending more time at the office it’s fantastic to be able to pop the ingredients in of an evening and wake up to the glorious smell of freshly baked bread. If you do decide to try something new, my biggest tip would be to avoid spending a lot of money on it at first. Get a cheap version, try it out and see if it really is something you can’t live without – then upgrade.

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