Every kitchen needs an assortment of small “extras” to make time-consuming tasks easy, measurements accurate and ensure safety. Baking and cheese-making, for example, need very precise measurement of ingredients to ensure that recipes work correctly. Fermentation and canning must have adequately briny and acidic starting points for safety reasons. Getting a few tablespoons of lemon or orange zest is much easier and faster using a dedicated zester or microplane than trying to do the job with a knife or cheese grater. The list goes on: it is all about having the right tool for the job and turning frustrating chores into pleasant joys.
This page will help you choose the best small kitchen tools for your kitchen. It does this by showing you what tools I use in my home kitchen and explaining why I chose them. Some smallwares will only be used a few times per year and price might be a deciding factor. Other items will be used often and the choice of which to buy should be based more on ease of use and durability.
Everything that happens in our kitchens has a direct impact on our health. Look at the addition of these small tools as an investment in your future self. Most of the recommended items will last a lifetime with proper care and will save much time and annoyance all along the way.
Measuring spoons are absolutely necessary in every kitchen: needed to make a recipe “as written” the first time, critical for baking recipes every time and the only way to develop your own unique recipes so you and others can make them again with the same results.
I have several sets of measuring spoons in my kitchen. The stainless steel set pictured above is a “lifetime” item, easy and accurate to use and easy and quick to clean. The cheaper plastic set was purchased when I started teaching myself to make cheese because I needed a 1/8 teaspoon measure(not included with most sets). There are also extra sets for when my wife and I or friends are cooking together.
Recipes must often be adjusted – the flavor of fresh and dried herbs and fresh produce varies widely depending on season, location and growing conditions. A good set of measuring spoons gives a good starting point and exact amounts of each ingredient can then be adjusted according to personal taste.
Microplanes are very versatile kitchen tools and I use mine often. They are inexpensive and last a long time if not banged around so as to dull them. See a complete review and suggested uses here.
Mortar and Pestle
Most home cooks think a mortar and pestle is an ancient relic to be used strictly as an ornament if it is owned at all. A good mortar and pestle is actually quite useful, does not cost much and does some kitchen work much better than a modern electric blender or food processor. Buy one at a flea market and try it; I think you will be convinced. See a much more complete review here.