The popularity of cooking shows, food magazines and festivals and the rise of social media have pulled cooking and food culture into the spotlight. There are more resources than ever for people who'd like to become home cooks. While not every piece of kitchen equipment is necessary, there are some that every cook should have regardless of his or her skill or ability.
Major Kitchen Machines and Their Uses
Kitchen machines can be everything from large appliances to small tools. All the different types of equipment and their uses are related to cooking and baking, but not every single one is necessary for every task. However, regardless of the kind of cooking that you do, you'll probably need to have three of the major kitchen machines. The three largest kitchen machines are a refrigerator, an oven and a stove.
A refrigerator is perhaps the most critical piece of kitchen equipment. If you're searching online for articles about kitchen tools and equipment and their uses with pictures, you'll undoubtedly find several pictures of a refrigerator. A refrigerator's purpose is to keep perishable food cold so that it doesn't spoil. As most people know, perishable food like vegetables, milk, herbs and cheese can go bad if they're not held in a temperature-controlled environment.
Choosing the right refrigerator depends on a lot of factors. In the United States, a full-sized refrigerator is the standard, especially for large families with a lot of kids. In places like Europe, a smaller half-size refrigerator is more normal, particularly for residents who live in a city. The assumption is that you'll need to store very little in the refrigerator as you'll buy the ingredients for meals and use many of them the same day. Use your family's needs to help inform the size of refrigerator you get.
Other Major Kitchen Machines and Their Uses
When you're doing the research of kitchen equipment names and their functions, you'll most definitely read about ovens and stoves. In almost every case, a stove is positioned on top of an oven. While you can buy electric burners or "hot plates" separately, most often, you buy an oven with a stove built in. Most stoves come with a broiler as well. Stoves heat, bake and roast food and can be set at a low temperature to keep food warm.
Stoves are for cooking over an open flame. Sauteeing, frying and simmering all happen on stovetops. A stove is also the large kitchen machine that helps to boil water for tea and other cooking. Often, a recipe will require a cook to use both the oven and the stove for the same dish.
There are electrical stovetops and gas stovetops. Gas stovetops take less time to heat cooking utensils and pans than electrical stovetops do, and most chefs and home cooks prefer gas stoves because it's easier to control the degree of heat.
Depending on your needs, you may decide you want a simple oven with a four-burner electric stovetop, especially if you're not someone who cooks very often. If you cook regularly, have a large family and are used to putting together somewhat elaborate dishes, you may want to get a stove with six or even eight burners, all of which are powered by gas.
What Are Other Kinds of Kitchen Equipment?
Beyond the stove, oven and refrigerator, there are many more kitchen machines. Some other kitchen machines and their uses include microwaves, which are used to heat up food. Also popular are toasters and toaster ovens, which are used to heat things up and in some cases melt things like cheese, condiments or other spreads. These are probably the most common pieces of heat-related kitchen equipment besides a stove and oven. Heat conductors are critical for cooking any kind of food.
Blenders and food processors are two other kinds of kitchen equipment that are useful for mixing ingredients and chopping ingredients respectively. Nuts, herbs, meat and vegetables can be easily chopped and even minced in a food processor. Sauces, drinks and batters can be mixed using a blender. An electric mixer is another popular kitchen machine. Electric mixers can be used to mix batter, sauces, bread dough and other hard-to-mix-by-hand recipes.
A pasta maker is another popular machine for home cooks. A pasta machine flattens dough and feeds it through a machine until its completely flat. Then, various attachments can help to press the flattened dough into a variety of different shapes.
What Small Kitchen Machines Do Home Cooks Love?
There are a number of small kitchen machines and appliances that all home cooks can use for basic tasks. A garlic press is useful for crushing garlic into a paste for sauces and dressings and is much easier than doing the same thing by hand. A citrus squeezer or juicer can help to release the juice of fruits like lemons, limes and oranges, which are extremely useful in many dishes.
A peeler is another useful piece of kitchen equipment. Whether you're peeling potatoes or other smaller vegetables, a peeler makes the process much faster than using a knife. A can opener is another piece of kitchen equipment that won't go to disuse. You'll find yourself returning to your can opener, again and again, to open canned tomatoes for a sauce, canned vegetables to sautee or canned olives for a salad.
People often think that a salad spinner is a silly, frivolous waste of money and space; however, there's no easier and faster way to wash and dry salad greens. Clean salad greens are critical, especially if you're buying your greens from the farmers market where they may not have been cleaned prior.
A cheese grater is another excellent kitchen machine to invest in. It will save you a tremendous amount of time in the kitchen and allow you to get your cheese precisely grated without wasting any.
What Other Kitchen Equipment Should Every Cook Have?
Measuring spoons and measuring cups for dry and wet ingredients are a must for every cook to have in his or her kitchen. Cooking shears are also very helpful in the kitchen. Beans and other legumes and vegetables that need their ends chopped off can benefit from the use of kitchens shears rather than knives. These are much faster and easier than using knives.
A chef's knife, a paring knife and at least one good cutting board are also excellent investments that can help a home cook prepare meals with ease and minimal mess. A bread knife is another excellent thing for a home cook to invest in. Bread knives typically have serrated blades which make cutting into hard, crusty bread easier and less time consuming than using a flat blade knife. While some people say a knife sharpener is not a machine that all home cooks need, other cooks and critics beleive that a knife sharpener is an excellent investment.
A fine mesh sieve is another good choice for cooks and bakers alike. Sifting flour or other ingredients prior to their use can help make your work go faster. It can also work as a colander or a skimmer for taking the foam off of chickpeas or pulling vegetables out of a pot of boiling water.
Ashley Friedman is a freelance writer with experience working in the home, design and interiors space.