Ok so we have a million different electrical things for the kitchen now to make life easier. They are AWESOME!!! I’m not going to lie and say otherwise because that would be a big fab whopper of epic proportions that would have people chanting “liar liar pants on fire” every time I walked into the local supermarket! There is however something to be said for learning to cook using hand utensils and tools. Especially if you live in an area where the electricity has a bad habit of cutting out when it storms or if you are on pre paid electric or if like many your right hand likes to pretend its your left foot.
Once you practise techniques you learn with hand utensils and tools you will find that you become better at it. Hand whisking helps you build strength in your arms, as does kneading bread and hand chopping and mixing. There was a time I could bench press my then 10 year old… these days I am lucky to be able to pick up my cat. If you are though looking for a quick arm workout there is nothing better than practising your hand cooking skills.
Hand utensils that are useful in your kitchen are …
A BALLOON WHISK
This one is ours (yeah ok so my camera skills are less than average). As you can see it is metal from start to finish. The whisk wires are individually placed in the handle and at the end of the balloon bit the central wire is shaped so that you can get right into the corners of pots and pans when you are whisking sauces and such so there are no burnt bits.
Cleaning this whisk as my partner has pointed out can be challenging. Not so much though if it is cleaned straight after use or if soaked in warm water before washing. To be expected though as with all dirty dishes really …. *place eye roll here*.
If of course you want a faster result but still want to keep the hand tools prominant as with making meringue or whipped cream then you could choose
A ROTARY WHISK
As you can see this is a stock photo from the internet, although I have to admit I’m not sure I feel so bad about my pic now.
A rotary whisk is a hand tool that makes short work of whisking jobs. Usable for lefties and righties, no specialty shop required, these hand tools can be absolutely the best thing if you do alot of whipped cream or egg whites.
A couple of things to remember with this one.
- Always keep your bowl stable on the counter, a non slip mat would be perfect or a damp teatowel folded underneath is the perfick eco friendly option.
- Turn the handle forward or you’ll be covered in whatever you are doing.
Either one of these is fine, although I would say this if you have a rotary whisk it would be sensible to have a balloon whisk too. Rotary whisks are downright dangerous on stove tops and completely useless at getting to the bottom of the bowl or into the corners of pots and pans.
This leads us neatly onto …
There are hundreds of options when it comes to graters, a few can be seen below.
This is a selection of box graters and microplane style graters. (Not mine just a stock photo of someone showing off).
When you are going to buy a grater you need to think about a few things.
- What are you going to use it for?
- What is my budget?
- Do I have the space for it?
- How long is it going to last?
- How easy is it to keep clean?
Ok so the last one is probably not on top of anyones list however think about it. Some box graters come with a curled lip at the bottom of them, as do all the ones with a plastic rim either at the top of bottom or even at the sides for some. Cheese gets under these and can be a bloody nightmare to get off. Normally you find you’ve missed a bit just as you pull it out top use the next time when the cheese has now dried and fallen into your fresh food. Not a great moment and thoroughly frustrating when you are rushing to get things done.
Box graters are great if you have limited space and want to purchase something that does more than one thing. Let’s be fair most of us want that.
You can get metal ones that are good to work with, aren’t going to go rusty and have the lips at the base and top folded well instead of curled. It is worth shopping around for them if this is your prefered option. The sides are usually, Large grater for cheeses and veg etc, a smaller grater for hard cheeses like parmesan etc. A slicer and a nutmeg or zest grater.
I have found the nutmeg grater to be very useful over the years as I tend to buy whole nutmeg but in all honesty I have a tendancy to use the nutmeg grater side for citrus zest more. The slight issue with that is the zest gets stuck in between the rasps (sticky outty bits) At some point I will show you the best way to combat this. I promise.
These look more like a file or rasp you would find in a woodwork shop. Easy to put away on a magnetic strip, hooks or in a drawer. Each one is different and created for different jobs. Much easier to use at the table if needed and far more portable and less of a cleaning up issue than the box grater.
Again look for the best quality ones you can purchase. You want them to last so metal handles preferably.
Purchasing your grater this way gives you the option of only purchasing the one you are going to use the most or need at that moment in time. Giving you a better chance to only have your kitchen set up for your style of cooking.
WOODEN HAND HELD JUICER
These are great if you have little space and only want a little bit of juice and not very often. (We all know people who will of course sit there for hours with something like this every day to prove a point, I don’t mean them. Good for you though if that is you.) It is really good though for getting juice out of limes, especially when it has a pointy bit at the end.
These are great for one off or mobile cooking uses. They are also pretty cheap and kept nicely will last you a lifetime. If you are lucky and live somewhere close to artisan woodworkers you may even be able to pick up a handmade one if you want to and have the pennies. (oh and if you do choose to purchase one this way, don’t haggle over price. The artists blood sweat and tears went into making that piece and the cheap ones are made by a machine who don’t have to pay rent and send their cute little fairy princesses to dance class)
GLASS CITRUS JUICER
If you haven’t seen one before I feel sorry for your childhood. My great nanna had one, my grandmother had one, my mother had one, I have one and my son prefers them. Made out of shatterproof toughened glass these things bounce really well on kitchen floors without tending to break. Maybe a chip here and there occasionally but they are also able to be chucked in the glass bottle recycling should your kids get too roudy with each other and somehow one goes flying through the air at speed through the window and bouncing through the garden, although to be honest, all I had to do with mine was give it a good wash and it was good to go again.
Alot easier to make more than a little bit of juice, easy for the kids to use and doesn’t get tainted by the acid in the citrus juice. Oh and they are cheap as chips too, literally, in fact probably alot cheaper these days. I have seen these in pound shops and they are jsut as good as the ones in the more expensive shops. You can often find them in second hand shops too. Definiately a great piece of kit to have in your kitchen.
METAL CITRUS JUICER
Not much different than the glass juicer, also a great piece of kit and normally comes with a bowl underneath as pictured above. Alot lighter than the glass one so less likely to break your toes should you happen to drop it.
However I will say this, metal and acid don’t like each other much. Over time no matter how wonderful the steel is and it’s grade it will start to break down the outer coating. This is not a great idea if you want to keep your juice in the juicer for extended time as would be the temptation with an item created this way.
Like the glass one it is able to be steralised using boiling water or the dishwasher. It is also less likely to break if dropped although a few dings here and there are hardly an issue I would think.
Ok so there you go … a little food for thought…
oh wait ….
Why have I not put down the posh expensive citrus press that takes up 3 feet of space on your counter top and takes the strength of Samson to use it once the lever jams? …. yeah … I don’t think so. Those things are exactly that, overpriced pieces of bollocks that end up at the back of the shed after you can’t be bothered with it anymore, due to the lever jamming up and the hour of cleaning after use before the kids nick it to make rockets with.
On that note I hope I’ve been able to clear up some stuff for you and made a bit of decision making a little easier.