The Land O'Lakes Test Kitchen

— Get to know our cooking, baking and dairy experts. —
Strainer

Cooking Equipment

Get more familiar with the tools found in your cupboard through detailed descriptions, helpful tips and additional uses.

  • Aluminum Foil

    Description

    • Aluminum foil is a thin pliable sheet of aluminum sold on a roll or by the sheet. Aluminum foil is used to cover or wrap foods. Aluminum foil is a good heat and cold barrier.
    • It is available in regular, heavy-duty, non-stick and in two sizes, regular and extra wide

    Substitutions

    • When covering food before freezing it, use plastic resealable freezer bags or food storage containers. Plastic food bags or food wrap can be used to cover a food before refrigerating it.

    Tips

    • Use aluminum foil to line baking pans and to wrap food for freezing.
    • Do not use aluminum foil to cover or wrap acidic foods, such as tomatoes, because the acid will pit the foil.
    • Generally, aluminum foil should not be used in the microwave oven.
  • Baking Sheet

    Description

    • A flat, rigid, metal sheet, made of aluminum used for baking and cooking. It can also be used as a drip pan beneath items being cooked or baked.
    • The flat edges let you easily slide appetizers or other items off the baking sheet.
    • Insulated baking sheets sandwich air between two metal layers, protecting from overbrowning of the baked product. Generally, baking time needs to be increased if using insulated baking sheets.
    • Common sizes for baking sheets are: 17x14-inch, 12x15-inch

    Substitutions

    • Turn a jelly-roll pan (15 x 10 x 1-inch pan) upside-down and use it in place of a baking sheet.

    Tips

    • We recommend shiny aluminum baking sheets without sides for best results.
    • Allow baking sheet to cool completely before re-using.
    • Bake only one sheet of cookies at a time on the middle rack in the center of the oven.
    • Baked products will brown more quickly on dark-colored baking sheets because they absorb more heat than shiny baking sheets.
    • Line baking sheet with parchment paper. The paper will withstand high temperatures without discoloring or scorching. The baking sheet is also easier to clean.
    • Follow recipe directions for greasing or spraying the baking sheet with no-stick cooking spray.
  • Baster

    Description

    • A baster, also called a bulb baster, is a hollow metal, plastic or glass tube with a squeezable bulb at the end. A baster is often used to remove fat or liquid from the bottom of a pan of roasting meat or poultry. Squeeze the bulb to push the air out and then release to remove off the fat or liquid. The fat or liquid can then be released and used to baste the roasting meat, saved for gravy or discarded. Some basters come with a cleaning brush. The bulb is removed for cleaning the baster.

    Substitutions

    • A ladle or large spoon can be used to remove fat or to baste.

    Tips

    • When purchasing a new baster check that it is heat resistant at high temperatures.
    • A baster can be used to apply a marinade to meat or vegetables.
  • Blender

    Description

    • A blender is a countertop electric kitchen appliance that can be used for blending drinks, pureeing vegetables, mixing and emulsifying soft foods, dressings, etc.
    • A glass, stainless steel or plastic container with blades at the bottom is mounted on a base containing an electric motor. The blades rotate to chop or blend. A tight-fitting lid keeps the food from escaping as it is processed. Some blenders have up to 10 different speeds.
    • Depending on the brand, the container can hold 6 to 10 cups.
    • Some blenders can be used to crush ice.

    Substitutions

    • Depending on what task needs to be accomplished, a mini food chopper, a food processor, a juicer or a cutting board and knife can be substituted.
    • To blend drinks an immersion blender can be used.

    Tips

    • Read the manual.
    • Turn off the blender before removing the lid.
    • Choose a blender with 500 watts or more.
    • Use to make smoothies and frozen drinks.
    • No air is incorporated during the processing, so egg whites or whipping cream cannot be whipped.
  • Broiler Pan

    Description

    • A broiler pan is a large piece of kitchen equipment that usually comes with the purchase of a stove but can also be purchased separately. It consists of two pieces: a rectangular or square pan and a slotted lid with ridges which fits over the bottom pan. Meat is placed on the slotted lid; during broiling the juices and fat go through the slots into the bottom pan. Food is broiled under a gas or electric heat source.

    Substitutions

    • Depending on the food to be broiled, a cookie or pizza pan could be used.
    • Most toaster ovens can broil food.
    • Do not broil in a glass pan.

    Tips

    • Read the oven manual. With electric ovens the oven door must remain slightly ajar.
    • Watch food that is broiling so it doesn't burn. Most recipe directions suggest broiling 5 inches from the heat source.
    • Lining the bottom of the pan with aluminum foil will help with cleanup.
    • Use the bottom pan to roast vegetables.
    • Try the broiler pan to toast buns or bread, melt cheese on sandwiches or broil fish.
  • Candy Thermometer

    Description

    • A candy thermometer is used to test the temperature during the cooking of candy, jams and jellies. A candy thermometer often has an adjustable clip so that it can rest against the sides of a heavy-gauge saucepan.
    • Candy and deep fat thermometers have a temperature range of 100° to 400° F.

    Substitutions

    • Use the cold water temperature test if you do not have a candy thermometer. Drop a small amount of the candy mixture into a cup of very cold water. Carefully remove the cooled mixture with your fingers. Test for the desired candy stage according to the following guidelines:
      • Soft Ball Stage -- Syrup forms a soft ball in the water but flattens when removed from the water (234° -240° F) (110° -115° C). Used for fudge, penuche and fondants.
      • Firm Ball Stage -- Syrup forms a firm ball that holds it shape when removed from the water (242° -248° F) (115° -120° C). Used for soft caramels.
      • Hard Ball Stage -- Mixture can be rolled into a firm ball (250° -260° F) (120° -130° C). Used for divinity and nougats.
      • Soft Crack Stage -- Syrup separates into threads which are hard but not brittle (270° -284° F) (130° - 145° C). Used for butterscotch and hard candies.
      • Hard Crack Stage -- Syrup separates into threads that are hard and brittle (300° -310° F) (150° -155° C). Used for nut brittles and toffee.

    Tips

    • Test candy thermometer for accuracy before using. Place bulb of candy thermometer in a pan of rapidly boiling water. Be careful not to let the bulb touch the bottom of the pan. Read the temperature at eye level while the thermometer is in the water. It should read 212° F or 100° C.
    • If the thermometer does not measure boiling temperature correctly, remember to adjust the candy temperature during cooking to reflect the difference.
  • Can Opener

    Description

    • A can opener is a manual kitchen tool or an electric small appliance. A sharp circular blade rotates and cuts around the lid of metal cans. Electric can openers have a magnet which holds the cut lid away from the can.
    • There are many other types of openers:
      • A bottle opener is used to pry off the lid of a bottle or jar.
      • A puncture-type opener punctures the lid of a can.
      • A corkscrew is used to open wine bottles.

    Substitutions

    • If you are opening cans without a pop-top lid, you will need either an electric or manual can opener. Today many bottles and cans can be screwed off or popped open, so many small types of openers aren’t as common.

    Tips

    • Read the manual for electric can openers.
    • Some models of electric can openers are tall and are good for opening tall juice cans.
    • Be sure and keep the blade clean by frequently washing with sudsy, hot water.
  • Carving Set

    Description

    • A carving set is often given as a gift to a bridal couple! It consists of a boxed set that includes a meat fork and a carving knife. The meat fork is used to stabilize the meat while it is carved with the carving knife.

    Substitutions

    • A generic heavy meat fork and carving knife can be purchased separately.

    Tip

    • Skip the set and buy a good carving knife.
  • Casserole

    Description

    • A casseroles is a square, oblong or rectangular dish made of glass, ceramic or other materials. It can be used to bake a main dish recipe or lasagna. Casseroles are often decorative and colorful and are designed to go from oven to table. Many casseroles are freezer and dishwasher safe. Some come with lids.
    • Common sizes are 1, 2, 2 ½-quart and 3-quart dishes. Some are much larger.
    • In recipes the term “baking dish” sometimes refers to a square or rectangular 8 or 9-inch, 12x8-inch or 13x9-inch oven-proof glass dish, although other sizes are available.
    • A lasagna pan is a ceramic or enamel pan sold to bake and serve lasagna. It often has handles for easy removal from the oven. Most are 13x9-inches or slightly larger.

    Substitutions

    • Metal 8, 9 or 13x9-inch pans can also be used, although acidic dishes, such as tomatoes in lasagna, may discolor aluminum pans.
  • Cheesecloth

    Description

    • Cheesecloth is a gauze-like cotton cloth which can be used to strain foods. It doesn’t fall apart and imparts no flavor. Herbs or spices can be tied up in a square packet of cheesecloth and placed into canning syrup, soups or stews. Just remove the bag when you are through cooking.

    Substitutions

    • A tea ball for spices can be used. A fine meshed sieve can be used for straining liquids.

    Tip

    • Line a colander with cheesecloth for straining out fine unwanted particles or cloves in a canning liquid.
  • Cheese Slicer

    Description

    • A cheese slicer is a kitchen tool for slicing cheese. It is most often metal and has an adjustable wire or blade at the end that can cut cheese in thin or thick slices.
    • A cheese plane is a kitchen tool used to cut soft cheeses. It usually has a metal or wooden handle with a flat, triangular blade at the bottom with a large slot through it.

    Substitutions

    • A sharp knife and a cutting board can be used for the cheese slicer or plane.
  • Colander

    Description

    • A colander is a plastic or metal bowl that is perforated with many small to medium holes. It usually has one or two handles for gripping and feet or a rimmed bottom. A colander is used to drain cooked food, canned vegetables or fruit and pasta. A colander can be used to rinse fresh vegetables and fruit. The liquid or water runs through the holes and the food stays in the bowl.

    Substitution

    • A large strainer or sieve can be substituted.
  • Cooling Rack

    Description

    • A cooling rack is a rack made from closely spaced wires or spokes, and small legs that elevate the rack above the countertop.
    • Cooling racks are often metal, however can be made from wood or other heatproof material.
  • Corer

    Description

    • An apple corer is a kitchen tool that removes the core, or the center of an apple, which contains the seeds. The rest of the apple is left whole. Apple wedgers or slicers are wheel shaped with a hole in the center. The apple is cored and cut into wedges in one step.
    • A pineapple corer is also available. The core is removed and the pineapple is cut into rings.

    Substitutions

    • Sharp paring knife can be used.

    Tips

    • Always place the apple on a cutting board before using the apple corer. This will protect the countertop.
    • An apple corer can also be used on fresh pears.
  • Custard Cup

    Description

    • A custard cup is an ovenproof glass or ceramic dish which hold about 6-ounces. Custard cups were originally used for baking custard.

    Substitutions

    • For baking, ramekins (small soufflé dishes) can be used.
    • For some recipes a muffin pan might be used.

    Tips

    • Custard cups are ideal to hold small amounts of ingredients such as minced garlic and chopped herbs when preparing a recipe.
    • No popover pan? Use custard cups.
    • Use to melt butter or chocolate in the microwave.
    • Use as a substitute cookie cutter; turn the custard cup upside down and cut out rounds of cookies or biscuits from dough.
  • Cutting Board

    Description

    • A cutting board is a durable flat surface used to cut food on. Most are usable on both sides. Cutting boards can be made out of wood, plastic, sustainable materials like bamboo or specialized glass. Flexible cutting boards made of plastic or silicone are now readily available. You can fold both edges of the flexible boards to the middle and create a funnel, sliding the prepared food into a bowl, pan or skillet.
    • A carving board would have a groove around all edges, or down the middle for meat juices to flow into. This helps avoid a mess when carving meat.

    Tips

    • Food safety is critical with cutting boards. Do not cut vegetables or fruit on a cutting board which was used to cut meat. Some cooks use color coded cutting boards, using red for meat, green for vegetables and blue for seafood.
    • Knife cuts in wooden cutting boards are hard to clean. Wood is porous and bacteria can grow in these cuts and on the board. Soak wooden cutting boards in a solution of 1 tablespoon bleach to a gallon of water for 2 minutes, then wash in hot, sudsy water.
    • New plastic or silicone cutting boards can be washed in the dishwasher.
  • Deep Fat Fryer

    Description

    • A deep fat fryer is an electric countertop cooking appliance for deep fat frying foods. It may contain a perforated wire basket which can be used during frying. The basket makes it easier to remove the fried food from the hot oil and drain off excess oil. A deep fat fryer also has temperature controls to help maintain a constant temperature. Deep fat fryers are available in various sizes.

    Substitution

    • A deep pot and a deep fat thermometer.

    Tips

    • Read the manual.
    • Follow recipe directions for the required oil temperature.
    • Make sure the oil used has a high smoke point, meaning it can be heated to a high temperature without smoking.  
    • Oil must be hot or food will be greasy or burned. Most fried foods should have a crisp crust and a moist interior.
    • Oil can sometimes be re-used if cooled and strained to remove any solids. Use the strained oil to cook the same type of food. 
    • Add food gradually to avoid spatters and burns.
  • Double Boiler

    Description

    • A double boiler is actually three pieces of glass or stainless steel pans sold together and used on the stovetop. The bottom pan is used to hold gently boiling water. The second, and smaller pan, sits inside the bottom pan and holds the food to be cooked. The third piece is the lid. Sauces, custards and puddings can be cooked in a double boiler. The food does not need to be constantly stirred while it is cooking.

    Substitution

    • A heavy pan or an ovenproof glass bowl can be placed in a skillet containing 1/2-inch of gently boiling water.

    Tips

    • Use a double boiler to melt large quantities of chocolate and keep it at a constant temperature for dipping candy, strawberries or pretzels.
    • Cook polenta and grits in a double boiler.
  • Dutch Oven

    Description

    • A Dutch oven is a large, heavy-bottomed, oven-safe pot with a tight-fitting lid used to braise meat, cook pasta or make soups and stews. It is good for moist cooking methods. A Dutch oven can go from stovetop to the oven. Most common sizes are 3 1/2-quart to 8-quart. Some are made of cast iron with enamel coatings.

    Substitutions

    • Substitute a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid.
    • A stock pot might work.

    Tips

    • Make a pot of chili in a Dutch oven.
    • Brown meat in the Dutch oven on the stovetop and then the pan can go in the oven.
  • Egg Slicer

    Description

    • An egg slicer is a metal or plastic tool for slicing hard cooked eggs. The egg is place on the oval side of the hinged slicer and the thin wires on the other side cut the egg into even slices as it is pressed over the egg.

    Substitution

    • Cut the egg with a knife

    Tips

    • To make chopped egg for egg salad or potato salad, after the first cut, rotate the direction of the egg and cut through with the wires again.
    • Slice mushrooms with the egg slicer.
  • Electric Skillet

    Description

    • An electric skillet is a countertop cooking appliance that can be used to saute, fry and cook food. It is stainless steel, often with a no-stick surface. The electric skillet has a lid and temperature controls. Electric skillets come in different sizes. It is good for cooking meat that requires a moist cooking method.

    Substitutions

    • A Dutch oven works well for moist cooking methods.
    • Many foods could also be prepared in a large skillet on the stovetop.

    Tips

    • Brown meat and add the rest of the ingredients for a "one pot" meal.
    • Electric skillets are good for pancakes and grilled cheese sandwiches.
  • Fondue Pot

    Description

    • Fondue is the French word for "melt." A fondue pot is a unique kitchen cooking pot used to cook meat and vegetables in hot oil or broth or to serve cheese or chocolate fondue.
    • Fondue forks, which are small forks with long handles, are used to spear the food to be cooked and placed in the hot cheese, chocolate, oil or broth.
    • Fondue pots can be kept hot over a candle or another heat source. Most non-electric fondue pots require heating the chocolate or cheese on the stovetop in a separate pan, then keeping it warm in the fondue pot over a heat source.
  • Food Processor

    Description

    • A food processor is an electric countertop cooking appliance that has a glass or plastic container mounted on an electric base. The cover has a feed tube for adding food. A food processor has various blades and discs to puree, chop, slice, pulse, shred, etc.
    • Mini food processors that hold 1 to 2 cups can be used to do many of these same tasks if a small amount is needed.
    • Sizes from 7 to 11 cups are available, as well as an array of speeds and functions.

    Substitution

    • Depending on what task needs to be accomplished: blender, mini food chopper, cutting board and knife, grater or shredder can be used.

    Tips

    • Read the manual.
    • For easier cleaning, rinse the container, add some liquid dish detergent and pulse the processor a few times. Rinse and wash.
    • Don't over process.
    • Don't overload the bowl.
    • Some food processors can be used to make yeast bread or pastry dough.
  • Funnel

    Description

    • A funnel is a plastic or metal kitchen tool with a wide mouth on a narrow hollow stem. It often has a handle. It is used to transfer liquids or dry foods, like spices, into containers or bottles with small openings.

    Substitutions

    • Make a funnel with waxed paper or parchment paper to transfer spices to a smaller container.
    • A baster may work for transferring liquids into another container.

    Tip

    • Many sizes of funnels are available.
  • Garlic Press

    Description

    • A garlic press is a kitchen tool used to press a clove of garlic through small holes, extracting the juice and the pulp. You can even leave the paper-like husk on the clove of garlic.

    Substitutions

    • A sharp chef's knife or paring knife and a cutting board can be used to finely chop garlic.
    • For large quantities a mini food chopper can be used.

    Tips

    • A pastry brush can be used to clean out the garlic press. Some garlic presses have a self-cleaning feature.
    • It is a good idea to clean the garlic press before the garlic residue dries.
  • Grater

    Description

    • A grater is a hand-held kitchen tool with sharp grooves for grating and shredding. Graters can be flat, 4-sided box or cylindrical. Graters are used to shred vegetables, fruits and cheese. There are many sizes of graters. Some are attached to a box-like unit that holds the shredded food. The grated or shredded food accumulates in the center of a 4-sided box grater. A cylindrical rotary grater is often used to grate hard cheeses, like Parmesan.

    Substitutions

    • Food processors, mini food choppers and zesters can be used depending on the food.

    Tips

    • Grate food onto waxed paper to simplify cleanup.
    • There are many new shapes and types of graters and shredders. Some are specialized for one type of food: a cheese grater, a citrus zester, a ribbon shredder for chocolate, carrots, etc.
  • Griddle

    Description

    • A griddle is a stovetop pan or a countertop electric kitchen appliance. The traditional griddle is a flat pan with slightly rimmed edges and a handle. It is used on the stovetop to make pancakes and grilled sandwiches, sausages and bacon.
    • The electric version has a long flat cooking surface with a ridge around the edge to catch cooking juices or fat. It has a temperature control for even heating.
    • Some griddles now come with a flat and ridged surface option. There are also two-burner griddles for stovetop use and griddles which fold in half to store.

    Substitution

    • A skillet will work for eggs, pancakes and grilled cheese.

    Tips

    • The electric griddle is good for cooking for large groups.
    • Nonstick surfaces make for easy cleanup.
  • Grill Pan

    Description

    • A grill pan is a stovetop heavy metal pan that contains ridges across the bottom. It is used for indoor grilling of meats, vegetables and fish. The pans can be round or square. The ridged cooking surface drains off the fat and creates grill marks.

    Substitutions

    • A heavy skillet, broiler pan or an outdoor gas or charcoal grill can be substituted.
  • Grills

    Description

    • Gas, charcoal or electric grills are large pieces of cooking equipment used outdoors for grilling meat, vegetables, fruits, bread and pizzas. Food is cooked by heat from below.
    • Countertop electric grills can be used to grill hamburgers, fish and steak and to create panini sandwiches. Some of these grills have plates that can be changed from smooth to a grid-like griddle. These units have heat on both sides of the hinged equipment.

    Substitutions

    • A griddle, skillet or broiler can be used to cook many of these same foods.

    Tips

    • Outdoor grills can be very elaborate with many tools and equipment, including those that allow you to smoke foods.
    • Read the manual.
  • Grinder

    Description

    • A coffee grinder is an electric kitchen appliance that is used to grind whole coffee beans. Usually the grinder has adjustments for the coarseness of the grind.
    • A spice grinder is a small manual or electric kitchen appliance that is used to grind whole spices, like nutmeg.
    • A meat grinder can be manual, attached to the edge of the kitchen counter, or a free-standing electric model, used to grind chunks of meat or vegetables. Most meat grinders have a number of discs to regulate the coarseness of the grind.

    Substitutions

    • Coffee and spices can be purchased pre-ground.
    • Spices can be ground in a coffee grinder, just clean it thoroughly.
    • A food processor may be able to handle processing smaller chunks of meat and vegetables in place of a meat grinder.

    Tips

    • Read the manual.
    • Keep the grinder blades clean.
  • Hot Pad

    Description

    • A hot pad is a thick cloth pad or glove/mitt used to protect your hands when removing a pan from the oven.
    • Hot pads can be made from any fabric that can withstand the temperature of an oven; cotton and wool are popular materials.
    Tips
    • Select hot pads that are made from thick layers of fabric. When the hot pads begin to wear thin, replace them.
    • Keep hot pads dry. If a wet hot pad is used, your hands will get burned.
  • Huller

    Description

    • A huller is a small kitchen tool that is used to remove the hull, leaves and stem from strawberries. It is metal or plastic and is shaped like a pincher or scoop.

    Substitution

    • Use a paring knife as a substitute to remove the hull.

    Tip

    • Store small tools like zesters, hullers and melon ballers together. They can get lost in a drawer.
  • Immersion Blender

    Description

    • An immersion blender is a hand-held kitchen appliance that can be battery-operated or electric. It is tall and narrow with the motor on the top and rotating blades at the bottom. It can be inserted  into a bowl or pan to blend soups, make smoothies or whip cream and egg whites. Some immersion blenders come with chopping attachments.

    Substitutions

    • A hand mixer can be substituted in most situations. In some recipes an electric blender or hand-held whisk may work.

    Tips

    • Read the manual.
    • The immersion blender can smooth out lumpy gravy in the pan.
  • Jelly Roll Pan

    Description

    • A very shallow, rectangular pan used to bake thin cakes or bars.
    • Jelly-roll pans generally are made from aluminum.
    • Common sizes of jelly-roll pans are:
      • 15 x 10 x 1-inch holds 10 cups
      • 12 x 7 x 1-inch holds 4 cups
      • 17x11 x 1-inch holds 13 cups

    Substitutions

    • Substitute a 13x9-inch baking pan in a recipe for a 15x10x1-inch jelly-roll pan. The baked product will be thicker than the original recipe. Bake time will be longer than stated in the recipe. Check for doneness at half the original baking time. Continue baking until baked product tests done.

    Tips

    • Follow recipe directions for greasing or spraying the pan with no stick cooking spray.
    • To make cake removal easier, line bottom of jelly-roll pan with waxed paper or parchment paper. Grease the paper on one side so it will adhere to the baking pan and on the other side to make baked product easy to remove from pan.
    • Use a jelly roll pan to roast vegetables. The edges help keep the food in the pan when turning the vegetables over and retain juices.
     

     

  • Juicer

    Description

    • A juicer is a kitchen hand tool, often made of glass or stainless steel that is used to squeeze juice from a half of a citrus fruit, like lemon. The juice is squeezed from the fruit by turning it against the cone-shaped center of the tool.
    • Hand-held reamers work the same way but are held over a bowl to catch juice.
    • The citrus press presses the juice out of cut fruit. The pulp and seeds stay in the top of the squeezer and the juice flows through the holes at the base of the squeezer into a cup or bowl. 
    • A tabletop electric juicer operates in the same way, except the food to be juiced is placed into a container and the fruit is rotated and quickly squeezed. The juice goes into the bottom container. Some juicers are very elaborate and can juice hard vegetables like carrots. Some have spigots to drain off a glass of juice.

    Substitutions

    • Cut the citrus fruit in half and hand squeeze the juice into a fine meshed strainer placed over a bowl or measuring cup.
  • Kitchen Shears

    Description

    • A heavy-duty strong scissors with one serrated blade.
    • Used for cutting fish, poultry, meats and produce. They can even be used to crack nuts or trim herbs into a dish.
    • Some kitchen shears have additional tools as part of the handle, such as a can opener or screwdriver.

    Substitutions

    • In certain cooking applications, a sharp knife can be used.
    Tips
    • To avoid bacteria, or other contamination, clean shears carefully after each use.
    • We suggest using kitchen shears for cutting various foods, rather than cutting paper and fabric.
  • Kitchen Timer

    Description

    • A kitchen timer is used to help accurately keep track of the baking time.
    • Electronic timers digitally display the time remaining. Clock-like timers have markings around the outside like a clock so you can easily read how much time is remaining.
    • Most ovens have built-in timers.

    Tip

    • Prevent over-cooking by setting the timer for the minimum cooking time in a recipe. Test for doneness and continue cooking, if necessary.
  • Knives

    Description

    • There are many brands and types of knives. Blades can be made of high carbon steel, which won’t stain and hold an edge longer, stainless steel or a combination of metals. Some blades are now made of ceramic, which need no sharpening. Handles can be wood or a hard plastic.
    • Boning knife—has a strong handle and a narrow-curved blade from 5 to 7 inches long. It is flexible and cuts around small bones.
    • Chef’s knife—has a broad blade from 6 to 13 inches long. Use to chop and slice.
    • Paring knife—is 2 to 5 inches long and is good for peeling, chopping herbs and small amounts of food. Use to core fruit.
    • Serrated knife—comes in various sizes and is used to cut bread and easily crushed foods such as ripe tomatoes. Use a sawing motion to cut.
    • Utility knife—medium-sized paring knife. Use to peel fruit, slice mushrooms, mince garlic and cut sandwiches.

    Substitutions

    • Some foods can be finely chopped in a food processor, mini chopper or even a blender.

    Tips

    • Know knife safety.
    • A “full tang” means the metal of the blade goes into the handle. It will be more durable.
    • Buy the best knives you can afford. Flat ground edges can be sharpened. 
    • Keep knives sharp with a sharpening steel, a good quality knife sharpener or have knives professionally sharpened.
  • Ladle

    Description

    • A ladle is a deep-bowled spoon used for serving soups or beverages.
    • They are available in large and small sizes, including very small sizes used for dips.
    • Most ladles are metal, plastic or wood. 

    Substitutions

    • A small measuring cup can stand in as a ladle. 

    Tips

    • Wood or plastic-coated spoons won’t scratch nonstick pans.
    • Some plastic or silicone spoons are high heat tolerant
  • Loaf Pan

    Description

    • A rectangular baking pan, sometimes referred to as a loaf pan.
    • Standard sizes for loaf pans:
      • 8 ½ x 4 ¼ x 3 1/8-inch holds 5 cups
      • 9 x 5 x 3-inch holds 8 cups
      • 5 ½ x 3 x 2 ½-inch holds 2 cups
    • Bread pans may be made from aluminum, stainless steel or glass.

    Substitutions

    • When you don't have the right size bread pan, substitute a pan with similar capacity. Fill the pan ½ full but never more than 2/3 full so the bread has room to rise. The baking time may need to be changed.
    • If substituting mini loaf pans in place of a larger bread pan, fill each mini loaf pan ½ full. Decrease baking time by ½ and check at that point for doneness. Continue baking, if necessary, checking doneness every five minutes.

    Tips

    • To determine pan size, measure length and width of the pan across the top inside. Measure height from the inside of the pan, holding a ruler straight up from the bottom.
    • To prevent a loaf from sticking, always follow the recipe directions for greasing or spraying the pan with no-stick cooking spray.
    • Bread or loaf pans can be used for baking meatloaf.
  • Mandoline

    Description

    • A traditional mandoline is a hand operated piece of kitchen equipment that has a base over which various adjustable blades are placed. They can be adjusted to cut thin or thick slices from firm vegetables and fruits, julienne or shred vegetables. The vegetables are moved back and forth over the blades. Most mandolines are made of stainless steel. Legs, which can be folded for storage, hold the mandoline up on the counter.
    • New and small versions, also called mandolin slicers, are the size of a hand grater. They are less bulky to store. They can be used over a cutting board or have a hook to hang the slicer over the bowl and a food holder to keep fingers away from sharp blades. They have stainless steels blades.

    Substitutions

    • A cutting board and knife can be substituted.  A food processor can be used to slice.
    • Graters with slots for shredding can be used.

    Tips

    • Read the manual.
    • Be careful and keep your fingers away from the sharp blade.
    • Julienne vegetables quickly with a mandoline.
  • Measuring Cup

    Description

    • There are two types of measuring cups:
      • For measuring dry ingredients: These measuring cups are made of metal or plastic, sometimes nested together, and come in sets of 1/8-cup to 2-cup sizes.
      • For measuring liquid ingredients: These cups, made of glass or plastic, come in 1 to 8-cup sizes. Measures are marked on the side and cup has a spout for pouring the measured ingredients.

    Tips

    • Use the proper measuring cups for dry and liquid ingredients. Do not substitute liquid and dry measuring cups for one another.
    • A large glass measuring cup, such as a 4-cup or 8-cup size, is a great mixing bowl especially for thinner mixtures that can be poured.
  • Measuring Spoon

    Description

    • Measuring spoons come in sets of 1/8 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon. They can be made of metal or plastic.

    Tips

    • It is important to measure accurately since the ratio of dry to wet ingredients is very important. However in some recipes you may note some measuring terms handed down through generations. As a guideline these measures should equal:
    • 1 heaping teaspoon = 1 ¾ to 2 teaspoons
    • 1 heaping tablespoon = 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons
    • 1 rounded teaspoon, tablespoon = measure ingredient so it is slightly rounded over rim of measure
    • 1 dash = 1/16 teaspoon
    • Never measure ingredients over the bowl or pan you are adding to. It is very easy to overflow the measuring spoon as you pour into it.
    • Buy several sets of measuring spoons to be sure you always have clean spoons available.
    • Tableware spoons should not be used for measuring since they vary in size.
  • Meat Fork

    Description

    • A meat fork is a kitchen tool that is a heavy-duty fork, with two or three sturdy tines on a long handle. It is used to hold meat or poultry when carving or for turning meat in a skillet.

    Substitutions

    • A meat fork that may have come with your silverware set could do the job.
    • Tongs or a pancake turner could be used to remove meat from a skillet.

    Tips

    • Look for sturdy construction and make sure the tines don’t bend.
    • A long handled meat fork is great for the grill.
  • Meat Mallet

    Description

    • A meat mallet is a kitchen tool that is also called a meat tenderizer or pounder. It is used to tenderize meat by flattening and breaking the surface fibers. It can have a hammer-like or round shape. Most have two sides, a flat one for pounding and a waffled, ridge-shaped side for tenderizing meat.

    Substitutions

    • The edge of a plate can be used to pound the surface of meat. Some potato mashers would also work.

    Tips

    • Sturdy construction and rust resistance are two factors to look for.
  • Melon Baller

    Description

    • A melon baller is a kitchen tool used to shape melon into balls. Most have a rounded or oval “spoon” at the end of a handle. Some melon ballers have 2 sizes of spoons, one at each end. Cutting into the fruit of the melon with the melon baller will form balls of melon.

    Substitutions

    • While not perfect, a small scoop could be used to make melon balls.

    Tip

    • Use to scoop out cherry tomatoes for appetizers.
  • Microwave Oven

    Description

    • A microwave oven is an electric kitchen appliance that is used to cook, defrost and reheat.
    • Microwave ovens are available in many different sizes. Cavity sizes range from .7 cubic feet to 2.2 cubic feet. Power or wattage runs from 700 to 1250 watts or higher.
    • Many come with a glass plate which revolves during microwaving to provide even cooking. Some have oven racks. 
    • Countertop and built-in or mounted microwaves are all available. Some double as a convection oven.

    Substitution

    • Depending on what needs to be cooked, an oven, stovetop burners or a toaster oven can be substituted.

    Tips

    • Read the manual.
    • Melt butter and chocolate, reheat beverages and defrost meat.
    • Buy a microwave which has a cavity big enough to hold what you intend to put in it. 
    • Many gadgets and specialized cookware are available to use in a microwave for cooking.
  • Mixer

    Description

    • An electric mixer is a kitchen appliance used to beat, mix or whip.
    • Electric mixers can be small, portable and hand held for small jobs or larger more powerful stand mixers for more difficult jobs. Many of the more powerful stand mixers have special attachments such as dough hooks or paddle beaters.

    Substitutions

    • Mixtures may be creamed, mixed or beaten by hand using a wooden spoon or whisk. It may be more difficult to create the same consistency by hand as with an electric mixer.
    • A large food processor can be used for some recipes instead of a mixer. Be careful to process ingredients just until mixed.

    Tips

    • Be sure beaters are clean before beating egg whites. Any fat, even a drop of egg yolk, on the beaters can prevent the whites from reaching optimum volume.
    • Whipping cream will be faster if the bowl and beaters are chilled at least 15 minutes before beating.  
  • Mixing Bowl

    Description

    • A mixing bowl is used to hold ingredients you are mixing.
    • A mixing bowl can be made of glass, aluminum, stainless steel, enamel, ceramic, copper or plastic.
    • Common sizes of mixing bowls range from 1-quart to 4-quart.

    Substitutions

    • A large, glass measuring cup (4-cup or 8-cup) may be substituted for a mixing bowl.

    Tip

    • Keep a variety of sizes of mixing bowls on hand so you have just the right size for each mixing step.
  • Mortar and Pestle

    Description

    • A mortal and a pestle are kitchen tools which are used to crush, grind or mix herbs, spices and nuts. A bat-shaped tool, the pestle, is used to crush or grind the food in the mortar, or bowl. A mortar can be made of wood, ceramic or stone.

    Substitutions

    • A mini food chopper, a blender, food processor or a spice or nut grinder could be substituted in many cases. 

    Tips

    • Crush whole spices with the pestle.
    • Mix ingredients for a rub.
  • Nut Cracker

    Description

    A nutcracker is a metal kitchen tool, used like a pliers, for cracking hard nuts like pecans, walnuts and filberts. The nut is gripped for safe cracking.

    Substitutions

    • A hammer and a cutting board could be used to crack the nuts.
    • Buy nuts already shelled.

    Tip

    • Nutcrackers can be purchased separately or in sets.
  • Pancake Turner

    Description

    • A pancake turner is a flat, narrow kitchen utensil, made from rubber, plastic or metal, that comes in several sizes.
    • Pancake turners are used to lift or remove food from a baking pan or sheet or for turning food that is being cooked.
    • Rubber scrapers, pancake turners and frosting spreaders are all generically called spatulas.

    Tips

    • Use a plastic turner on a non-stick baking pan or sheet.
    • Using a turner with holes or slots allows liquids or fats to drain off the item being lifted.
    • Pancake turners are great for turning flaky fish fillets. 
  • Panini Grill

    Description

    • A Panini grill is a specialized countertop electric kitchen appliance used to create a pressed, grilled sandwich called a Panini. 
    • This hinged appliance has a top and bottom with ridges.  Both sides heat.  A sandwich is placed on the bottom and the top is slowly lowered.  As it cooks, the top lowers and compresses the sandwich.  The end result is a golden sandwich with grid marks, cooked on both sides at the same time.

    Substitutions

    • A stovetop electric grill will work.
    • You won’t get grill marks, but any type of griddle or skillet will grill a sandwich.  To compress the sandwich use a grill press.

    Tips

    • Nonstick surface makes for quick clean-up.
    • A small amount of butter or a quick spray of cooking oil on the bread is all that is needed to give a golden surface to the bread.
  • Parchment Paper

    Description

    • Parchment paper is a grease and moisture resistant white or unbleached paper sold in rolls or sheets.
    • It can withstand high temperatures.
    • Use parchment paper to line cookie sheets and cookies will lift off easily.

    Substitutions

    • In some cases, such as when lining cake pans, waxed paper can be used.
    • Greasing cookie sheet or cake pans very well should work in most cases.
    • Silicone mats are becoming popular replacements for some uses.

    Tips

    • Line cake pans for easy removal of cake layers. Lay the cake pan, bottom side down, on the parchment paper. Trace around it. Cut the paper, grease the pan, and line the greased pan with the parchment paper.
    • Lining cookie sheets with parchment paper helps with cleanup. If decorating cookies with sprinkles or sugar before baking, the excess sugar can be shaken off the parchment paper and reused for the next pan of cookies.
  • Pastry Bag

    Description

    • A pastry bag is a cone or triangular shaped bag used for cake and cookie decorating. It is also used to pipe whipping cream, mashed potatoes or other semi-soft foods.
    • The bags come in many materials including plastic-lined cotton, disposable plastic and paper.
    • The bags can be fitted with decorative tips. The frosting or food is forced through the opening to create various designs and shapes.

    Substitutions

    • Cut a small opening in one bottom corner of a plastic food storage bag. Fill and squeeze food through opening.
    • Buy frosting in tubes and cans in the baking section for decorating cakes and cookies.

    Tips

    • Disposable pastry bags are sold on rolls in candy, cake-making or craft stores.
  • Pastry Brush

    Description

    • A pastry or basting brush is a small brush-like tool, traditionally with a wood handle and nylon or natural bristles at the end.
    • A pastry brush is used to brush butter, oil, marinade, barbecue sauce or an egg glaze on food.
    • Now silicone brushes are common; they can withstand high heat and can be washed in the dishwasher. They don't discolor and the bristles don't fall out. They are available in a number of sizes.

    Substitutions

    • A spoon can be used to baste foods.
    • A bulb baster can also be used to baste foods.

    Tips

    • To avoid bacteria, or other contamination, clean pastry brush in dishwasher or with hot tap water after each use.
    • Long handled brushes are great for grilling.
  • Pepper Mill

    Description

    • A pepper mill is a glass, wood or plastic container that can be filled with whole peppercorns to be ground as needed.  Most have adjustments for the coarseness of the grind.  The advantage is freshly ground pepper at your fingertips.

    Substitutions

    • Many spice companies now sell peppercorns in grinder containers. 
    • Pepper shaker filled with pre-ground pepper.

    Tips

    • Experiment with different kinds of peppercorns.  Also used different adjustments to get the grind size you want.
  • Pizza Wheel

    Description

    • A pizza wheel is a hand held kitchen tool that has a round, sharp blade for cutting slices of pizza.

    Substitutions

    • A knife will work just fine.

    Tip

    • Slice sandwiches, cut bars and some flat desserts.
  • Plastic Wrap

    Description

    • Plastic wrap is food wrap that is a thin, transparent plastic sold on a roll. It is used to wrap food, as it clings to the food and the container for an airtight seal.

    Substitutions

    • Food storage containers, plastic kitchen bags or aluminum foil can be used to wrap or store food.

    Tip

    • There are many brands and some have extra clinging power.
  • Potato Masher

    Description

    • A potato masher is a kitchen utensil used to mash potatoes and other vegetables. One common type has a long firm handle connected to a flat plate which has perforations in it. Some have a serpentine shape. Some are stainless steel and some are nylon.

    Substitutions

    • A hand or stand mixer can be used to mash potatoes and other foods.

    Tip

    • Mash other vegetables, such as rutabagas or sweet potatoes.
  • Potato Ricer

    Description

    • A potato ricer is a hand-held kitchen utensil which is used to force food, like potatoes, through small holes. Potatoes are placed in the bottom cup of the masher. The top cup is then pressed down, forcing the potatoes to come out in short strands. On some ricers there are different blades for regulating the size of the riced potato.  Potatoes can be served like that or quickly mashed without using a potato masher. 

    Substitutions

    • A potato masher could be used to force potatoes through a colander.

    Tip

    • Potatoes which have been riced are a novelty in most homes. Top the potatoes with butter, salt and pepper and serve. 
  • Pots and Pans

    Description

    • Pots and pans are kitchen utensils used to cook food. They are available in many sizes and made from many types of materials.
    • The most common sizes are 1, 2 and 3-quart saucepans.
    • A skillet is a kitchen pan used for sautéing, cooking eggs or frying chicken. It has low sides compared to a saucepan and are available in many sizes: 8 to 12-inch skillets are the most common. Many are sold without a lid. Skillets with sloping sides instead of straight sides are often called saute pans.
    • A larger pan is referred to as a Dutch oven or stockpot.
    • Pots and pans are made from many different materials:
      • Anodized aluminum goes through a process which makes the aluminum nonreactive to acid, resistant to scratching and creates a non-stick surface. It is very popular, also called hard anodized aluminum.
      • Aluminum is light and durable. It is heat sensitive, heating and cooling quickly. Since it reacts to acid or alkaline food, it is usually coated with stainless steel or a nonstick surface.
      • Stainless steel is durable and nonreactive to acid. It is rust resistant and won’t pit. It doesn’t conduct heat very well, so is often combined with copper or aluminum as a base layer.
      • Copper is a good heat conductor but it is easily dented and tarnishes. It is often used as a base or thin layer in a pan.
      • Cast-iron is heavy. These pans heat slowly and distribute heat well. They also rust and need to be seasoned. Some cast iron skillets are now sold pre-seasoned. Some pans have a porcelain enamel exterior and often a hard anodized interior.

    Tips

    • Pots and pans are often sold in sets. If a set contains most of the pans you would like, it might be the most economical route. Otherwise, buy pans that you need. Some sets have lids for skillets and pans that are interchangeable. That is good for storage.
    • Nonstick surfaced pans make clean up easier.
  • Pressure Cooker

    Description

    • A pressure cooker is a stovetop or electric kitchen pot where steam pressure builds up quickly, cooking food above the boiling point. A pressure cooker is a quick way to cook meats, sauces and other foods which take a long time to cook. It is often 5-quarts, but other sizes are sold.
    • Pressure canners are used for home canning.  It is larger than pressure cookers and have a pressure gauge on the valve of the canner to safely process low acid foods.  The pressure must be monitored during the cooking time. They are heavy pots and come in various sizes.
    • Water bath canners are used to can non-acidic foods and are usually 21 ½ quarts. They are often sold with jar racks, tongs and a canning jar lifter.

    Substitutions

    • A Dutch oven or heavy pot will work for moist heating methods, but it will take longer.
    • For canning low acid foods you must have a pressure canner.

    Tips

    • Read the manual, especially for canning.  A required time and pressure is needed for food safety.
  • Ramekins

    Description

    • Ramekins are small souffle dishes. The most common size holds 8 ounces. They are fluted on the outside and smooth on the inside. They are usually ceramic and are sold in white or various colors.
    • They are used when serving individual portions.

    Substitutions

    • Custard or muffin pans may be used, if they are large enough.

    Tips

    • These small dishes make ideal serving pieces for dips, salsas, candy, nuts, etc.
    • Bake individual servings of macaroni and cheese, au gratin potatoes, etc.
  • Rice Cooker

    Description

    • A rice cooker is an electric countertop kitchen appliance. 
    • Rice and water are placed in a removable cooking pan which is placed over an electric base. As the steam builds the rice is steamed. 
    • More elaborate models, sometimes called food steamers, have extra trays for steaming meat, fish or vegetables which are cooked at the same time as the rice.  
    • Most rice cookers have temperature controls for numerous cooking functions.

    Substitutions

    • Cook rice according to package directions in saucepan.

    Tips

    • Read the manual.  There are many foods such as soups, stews, oatmeal and vegetables that can be prepared in the rice cooker. 
  • Roasting Pan

    Description

    • A roasting pan is a large pan used for roasting meat and poultry.
    •  It often comes with a meat rack which holds the cooking meat or poultry out of the drippings and fat which aids in crisping the skin of the poultry.
    •  Roasting pans are most often made of stainless steel, aluminum or enamel. They come in various sizes. Some have a cover.

    Substitutions

    • For roasting substitute a 13x9-inch baking pan, if it is large enough.

    Tips

    • These are bulky pans. Store infrequently used kitchen tools and items inside them.
  • Salad Spinner

    Description

    • A salad spinner is a piece of kitchen equipment used to spin greens dry. Washed greens are placed in a perforated basket. This is inserted in the large bowl of the spinner. Then either a hand lever or pump spins the basket, spinning the greens dry. The water drains to the bottom of the spinner.

    Substitutions

    • Buy prewashed greens.
    • Rinse greens well and pat dry on clean kitchen towels or paper towels.

     Tips

    • Use the base to store the dry greens.
    • Use the spinner to spin dry a large quantity of herbs.
  • Saucepan

    Description

    • A saucepan is a kitchen utensil used for cooking food. Saucepans are available in many sizes and made from a variety of materials. The most common saucepan sizes are 1, 2 and 3-quarts. Many are sold with lids.
    • Saucepan materials include:
      • Anodized aluminum which goes through a process which makes the aluminum nonreactive to acid, resistant to scratching and creates a nonstick surface. It is very popular, also called hard anodized aluminum.
      • Aluminum is light and durable. It is heat sensitive, heating and cooling quickly. Since it reacts to acid or alkaline food, it is usually coated with stainless steel or a nonstick surface.
      • Stainless steel is durable and nonreactive to acid. It is rust resistant and won’t pit. It doesn’t conduct heat very well, so is often combined with copper or aluminum as a base layer. 
      • Copper is a good heat conductor but it is easily dented and tarnishes. It is often used as a base or thin layer in a pan.
      • Cast-iron is heavy. These pans heat slowly and distribute heat well. They also rust and need to be seasoned. 
      • Some pans have a porcelain enamel exterior and often a hard anodized interior.

    Substitutions

    • Cook food in a microwave. In fact there are plastic saucepans made for microwave use.  

    Tips

    • Saucepans are sometimes sold in sets with skillets and have lids that are interchangeable. 
    • Non-stick surfaced pans make clean up easier.
  • Scale

    Description

    • A scale is a piece of kitchen equipment used to weigh foods such as flour and sugar, rather than using a measuring cup. It can also be used to measure foods like meat, dry pasta, etc.
    • It should show weights in grams, ounces and pounds. Ideally it should weigh up to 2 pounds of food. Many weigh up to 11 pounds.
    • There are many types of kitchen scales: spring-operated, balance or digital. Many digital scales are battery-powered.

    Substitutions

    • Metal and glass measuring cups can be used to measure food when a recipe specifies cup measurements.

    Tips

    • Many recipes now provide both a cup measurement and a weight measurement. Weight measurements are more accurate.
    • Read the manual to learn how to use a scale.
  • Scoop

    Description

    • A scoop is a kitchen utensil that comes in many sizes for specific tasks. Scoops can be made of plastic, stainless steel or other metal.
    • An ice cream scoop is used to serve ice cream, yogurt and sherbet. The scoop can be slightly flat and curved or have a round cup. Many have a spring-action lever to release the ice cream.
    • Other scoops can be used to serve food in a portioned size or to measure cookie dough for even-sized cookies. They also have a spring-action lever.
    • Scoops shaped like a shovel with a handle are also available. Use to scoop dry ingredients, ice cubes, etc. Some scoops have measurements on them and can be used as a measuring cup.

    Substitutions

    • A measuring cup, tablespoon or a kitchen spoon work for some situations.
    • A sturdy large spoon can be used for ice cream.

    Tips

    • A 2 to 3-inch scoop is good for ice cream and mashed potatoes.
    • A 1-inch scoop can be used for portioning cookie dough or ground meat for meatballs. All cookies or meatballs will be the same size.
  • Skewer

    Description

    • A skewer is a kitchen tools that is a thin rod of stainless steel used for broiling or grilling food. Meat, poultry, vegetables and fruit can be threaded onto the skewers to create kabobs.
    • Skewers can also be made of bamboo. Both are available in many sizes. Mini kebabs can be made with short bamboo sticks.

    Substitutions

    • A grill basket could be used to hold vegetables and meat for grilling.

    Tip

    • Soak bamboo skewers in water for 20-30 minutes so they don’t burn as the food is cooking on the grill.
  • Skillet/Saute Pan

    Description

    • A skillet or saute pan is a kitchen pan used for sautéing, cooking eggs or frying chicken. They have low sides compared to a saucepan and are available in many sizes: 8 to 12-inch skillets are the most common. Many are sold without a lid. Skillets with sloping sides instead of straight sides are often called saute pans.
    • Skillets are made from many different materials:
      • Anodized aluminum goes through a process which makes the aluminum nonreactive to acid, resistant to scratching and creates a non-stick surface. It is very popular and is also called hard anodized aluminum.
      • Aluminum is light and durable. It is heat sensitive, heating and cooling quickly. Since it reacts to acid or alkaline food, it is usually coated with stainless steel or a non-stick surface.
      • Stainless steel is durable and nonreactive to acid. It is rust resistant and won’t pit. It doesn’t conduct heat very well, so is often combined with copper or aluminum as a base layer. 
      • Copper is a good heat conductor but it is easily dented and tarnishes. It is often used as a base or thin layer in a pan.
      • Cast-iron is heavy. These pans heat slowly and distribute heat well. They also rust and need to be seasoned.  Some cast iron skillets are now sold pre-seasoned.
      • Some pans have a porcelain enamel exterior and often a hard anodized interior.

    Substitutions

    • Depending on the food, you can cook food in a microwave, a toaster oven, wok or electric skillet. 

     

    Tips

    • Skillets are sometimes sold in sets with saucepans and have lids that are interchangeable. 
    • Nonstick surfaced pans make clean up easier.
  • Slow Cooker

    Description 

    • A slow cooker is an electric countertop kitchen appliance. It cooks with a low, constant heat, often 6 to 10 hours.
    • Most slow cookers have a removable oval or round stone crock for easier clean-up.
    • Three temperatures are common: Low, High and Warm. Sizes of slow cookers range from 1 to 6 quarts. 

    Substitutions

    • A Dutch oven or other heavy pot with a tight lid could be substituted. However, the cooking time will be different.

    Tips

    • Read the manual.
    • A proliferation of slow cookers has appeared on the market. Some are slow cooker buffet servers holding up to 3 and 4 quarts.
    • Small size slow cookers are good when cooking for 2 people. 
    • The nonstick interior helps with cleanup.
    • Don’t fill a slow cooker more than half full.
  • Spaghetti Server

    Description

    • A spaghetti server is a kitchen tool that lifts cooked pasta out of boiling water. At the end of the handle is a claw like scoop with a hole or perforations. The spaghetti server also neatly portions out a serving of pasta.

    Substitutions

    • Drain pasta into colander.
    • Serve pasta with a large spoon or ladle.

    Tip

    • Most spaghetti servers are nonstick and dishwasher safe.
  • Spatula

    Description

    • A spatula is a flat, narrow kitchen utensil, made from rubber, plastic or metal, that comes in several sizes.
    • Rubber scrapers, pancake turners and frosting spreaders are all generically called spatulas.
    • Flexible metal spatulas are good for spreading frostings on cakes.
    • Turners are used to lift or remove food from a baking pan or sheet or for turning food that is being cooked.
    Tips
    • Use a plastic turner on a non-stick baking pan or sheet.
    • Using a turner with holes or slots allows liquids or fats to drain off the item being lifted.
  • Spoon

    Description

    • A spoon is a kitchen tool used for stirring and mixing.
    • Spoons are available in many sizes and made of many different materials: wood, metal, plastic, silicone.
    • Long-handled spoons are good when stirring soups and stews.
    • Deep-bowled ladles are used for serving soups or beverages.
    • Slotted spoons are good for lifting food out of a hot liquid.

    Substitutions

    • Try using a large tablespoon.

    Tips

    • Wood or plastic-coated spoons won’t scratch nonstick pans.
    • Some plastic or silicone spoons are high heat tolerant.
  • Steamer Insert

    Description

    • A steamer is an adjustable, collapsible piece of kitchen equipment that fits in more than one size pan.
    • Steamers are often made of stainless steel.
    • The food to be steamed, often vegetables, is placed into the basket over boiling water. When the lid is on the pan steam builds up and cooks the vegetables. The steamer insert with the cooked food is then pulled out of the pan. Some steamer inserts are sold as part of a set with a pan and lid specifically for that steamer insert.

    Substitution

    • Cook vegetables in a pan with a small amount of water.

    Tips

    • A steamer insert can be used as a colander to drain foods.
    • Some steamer inserts can be used in the microwave.
  • Stockpot

    Description

    • A stockpot is a large kitchen pot with tall, straight sides.
    • It is used to make soups, stews, sauces and stock. 
    • Most common sizes are 8 to 12 quarts, but there are smaller and larger sizes.
    • A good heat conducting bottom is necessary to avoid burning or scorching food.

    Substitution

    • A Dutch oven or a large pot could be used if it is large enough.

    Tip

    • Since these are big pans, you can store other infrequently used pans or kitchen equipment inside the stockpot.
  • Thermometer

    Description

    • A meat thermometer is a kitchen tool used to measure the internal temperature of meat or poultry.
    • A candy thermometer/deep fat frying thermometer is a kitchen tool used to check the temperature of a solution when making candy, jams and jellies or deep fat frying. Temperatures on the dial range from 100° to 400° F. Some can clip on the edge of the pan.
    • Use an instant read thermometer to read the temperature of the food or cooking mixture at any time by inserting the end into the food or mixture. The thermometer quickly registers the temperature.
    • An oven thermometer is placed into the oven so the temperature of the oven can be monitored while it is being used.
    • Refrigerator and freezer thermometers measure the temperature of a refrigerator or a freezer. It is a good food safety measure to have both.

    Tips

    • Read the instructions that come with each type of thermometer.
    • Some thermometers are oven-safe and some thermometers need to be removed. 
    • Some meat thermometers for the grill are mini thermometers and stay in the meat during grilling so each steak or hamburger is cooked to an individual's preference.
    • Check meat and poultry doneness temperature for food safety.  
  • Toaster

    Description

    • A toaster is a countertop electric kitchen appliance used for toasting bread, bagels and heating refrigerated toaster products. 
    • Two or four slice toasters are the most common.
    • There are dials that adjust for brownness, which varies with the food being toasted.

    Substitutions

    • A toaster oven or oven broiler can be used to toast many bread products.

    Tips

    • Read the manual.
    • Clean the crumb tray often.
  • Toaster Oven

    Description

    • A toaster oven is a countertop electric cooking appliance used to perform many of the functions of an oven, without heating up the kitchen. Broil, bake and toast foods. These come in many sizes with many features.

    Substitutions

    • An oven can perform all the functions of a toaster oven. A toaster can toast bread and bagels.

    Tips

    • Read the manual.
    • Reheat foods like pizza in the toaster oven. The crust will stay crisper than if it is reheated in the microwave.
  • Tongs

    Description

    • Tongs are kitchen equipment used to remove food from boiling water (corn on the cob) or turn over meat, without puncturing the food.  
    • Some tongs have a lock feature which closes the tongs for storage.
    • Most tongs are stainless steel, but they are also available in plastic. 
    • There are even tongs made of wood to remove toast from the toaster.
    • Salad tongs have a large fork and spoon-like base at the bottom of the double handle. Use to serve salad.
    • Canning tongs (sometimes called canning lifters) are large heavy duty tongs specifically designed to remove hot canning jars from a canner.
    • Tongs come in many types of material and many sizes, from tiny to retrieve food from a jar and larger sizes for use with a grill.

    Substitution

    • For meat a pancake turner would work. A fork or spoon could be used to remove pickles from a small jar.
  • Vegetable Peeler

    Description

    • A vegetable peeler, sometimes called a potato peeler, is a kitchen utensil that is used to pare the skin from vegetables or fruit. A sharp stainless steel blade removes just the skin of a potato, carrot or apple.
    • The most common are a Y-shaped peeler or a swivel peeler.

    Substitution

    • A paring knife can be used to peel vegetables or fruits.

    Tip

    • Replace when the blade gets dull.
  • Waffle Iron

    Description

    • A waffle iron is a countertop electric appliance that is used to make waffles. 
    • A honeycomb of raised grids or ridges, give waffles their appearance. 
    • The waffle iron heats from the top and the bottom, creating a crispy waffle. 
    • Waffle irons come in round, square, rectangle and heart shapes which can make 1 to 4 waffles.
    • There is also a Belgian waffle maker that makes thicker waffles.
    • Some waffle irons have a flip-over design and a timer just like in a restaurant.

    Tips

    • Read the manual.
    • Look for an iron with a nonstick surface, making it easier for the waffles to release. 
  • Wax Paper

    Description

    • Wax paper is a thin sheet of paper that has wax on both sides so it is moisture-proof.
    • It is sold in a roll and is used to line cake pans for easy removal of cake layers, wrap sandwiches and cover foods during microwaving.

    Substitution

    • Plastic food storage bags can be used to wrap sandwiches, aluminum foil and plastic wrap can also be used wrap food. 
  • Whisk

    Description

    • A wire whisk is made from a series of looped wires fastened at the top by a long handle.
    • Whisks are used to whip air into ingredients, such as egg whites or whipping cream.
    • The more wires a whisk contains the more effectively it will incorporate air into a mixture.
    • Whisks are available in a variety of different sizes for different tasks.

    Substitutions

    • Use a portable electric mixer or wooden spoon.
    • If whisking a very small amount such as one egg white, a fork can be used to whip the mixture and incorporate air.
  • Wok

    Description

    • A wok is a large kitchen stovetop pan or a countertop electric cooking appliance used to stir fry food. Many woks are nonstick and come in various sizes: 12 to 14-inch stovetop woks are the most common. 

    Substitution

    • A large skillet can be used to stir fry.

    Tip

    • Steam or braise food in the electric wok.
  • Zester

    Description

    • A traditional zester is a small kitchen utensil about 4 inches long with a curved metal end with small holes.
    • It is used to remove the zest from citrus fruit. Pressing the zester across the fruit removes the zest but not the bitter pith (white portion) underneath the peel. These long threads of zest can then be cut up.
    • Some zesters have a hole at the end which can be used to cut ribbons of peel for garnishes and drinks.

    Substitution

    • Many small, fine graters will also remove zest from citrus fruit. This does not need to be cut up, it is recipe ready.

    Tips

    • If you are just juicing fruit, remove the zest and freeze.
    • Just like graters, there has been a huge increase in the number of specialized zesters.