Being a vegetable gardener doesn’t just change the outside of your house. It changes the inside, too. Take my kitchen cabinets, for example. Since I started growing vegetables and herbs, I’ve amassed quite a collection of kitchen utensils helpful for slicing, dicing, steaming, sautéing, and preserving my homegrown produce. Here’s a little list of five of my favorite kitchen tools right now.
1. Food Dehydrator
I put this one first just in case you stop reading halfway down. I love my dehydrator. I tell everyone about it. I’ve made kale chips (a favorite), dried herbs, granola, and dried peppers for spice mix. (Let me give you a hint about drying peppers: Don’t do it in the house. I moved our dehydrator into the garage after practically macing the house with the pungency of drying cayenne peppers.) Most recently, I made Roma Tomato Snacks, a yummy new recipe on our website. They’re fantastic and surprisingly sweet. You should try them! But first you need a dehydrator…
2. Tomato Knife
This one’s a splurge but worth it if you grow a lot of tomatoes. Have you ever wondered why your regular kitchen knife, though perfectly sharp, just won’t cut through tomato skin? You need a knife with a serrated edge. That way, you don’t have to put pressure on the tomato to cut into it. Some tomato knifes, like this Wusthof one, have a forked tip that’s useful for transferring slices after they’re cut.
3. Salad Spinner
An absolute necessity if you grow lettuce or greens, a salad spinner helps get your leafy crops clean. Let me tell you, gritty lettuce is no way to impress guests. Before I got my salad spinner, I would soak the lettuce, kale, or collards in a sink full of water. But that causes the leaves to get soggy. A spinner is the way to go (and it’s kind of fun, too).
4. Convertible Colander
OK, so how many times have you tried to hold a colander in one hand while holding a heavy pot full of some hot liquid or boiled veggies with the other? It’s not easy, I know. You need a colander with some bells and whistles. This sweet thing (made by OXO, like many of my tools) rests right over the sink or sits straight on the counter. No more burning my hand with near-boiling water.
5. Kitchen Scale
Why, you say? Well, think about how many recipes you’ve read that call for 5 pounds of this, or 3 pounds of that. At the grocery store, you can weigh your produce on a hanging scale and buy the right amount. At home, you need the same convenience for your recipes to turn out right. This is especially true when canning. (Don’t get me started on canning supplies…that will have to be another post.) I have one adorable vintage kitchen scale that I bought on Etsy, and another fancy-schmancy digital one that I got from Williams-Sonoma. Both work great.