Raid other rooms for items that can help you cook more efficiently.
Have you ever found yourself rummaging around the house for a tool that can be used to perform a task in the kitchen? Our homes are filled with versatile items that can help us to cook better, sparing us the need to spend money on a specific kitchen item and store it, too.
The Washington Post recently published an article with great suggestions of 'non-culinary tools' that work well in the kitchen. I'd like to share some of those below, while adding to the list with my own suggestions and those from commenters.1. Masking or painter's tape: Paired with a Sharpie, this is handy for labeling jars and Tupperware containers. It can go through the dishwasher without peeling, with ink still legible.
2. Dental floss: This is my go-to trick for slicing soft logs of goat cheese into rounds. One commenter says she uses it for slicing cinnamon roll dough. Use plain dental floss (or if you only have mint, give it thorough scrubbing beforehand).
3. Paintbrush: If you don't have or want to use a silicone pastry brush, you can buy a small paintbrush with natural bristles to use instead. This is handy for oiling pans, as well. Obviously you should never use a brush that's already been used for painting.
4. Ruler: Use a regular 12-inch ruler for measuring the size of pastry rounds, dough balls, cookies, or pans. The Washington Post suggests, "If you need a straight edge for cutting dough, such as for a lattice pie crust or crackers, the ruler can help."
5. Wire desk organizer: Put one of these in a cupboard and use it to separate baking sheets and pans and muffin tins. It keeps everything slightly apart and visible, and makes it easy to pull out a specific pan without a colossal noise.
6. Putty knife: These are handy for lifting seared foods out of cast iron pans to minimize splatter, lifting baked squares out of a pan, and for cleaning glass cooktop surfaces and scraping cutting boards.
7. Goggles: I can't say I've tried this myself, but several commenters suggested wearing swim goggles while cutting onions and deseeding hot peppers.
8. Pliers: Use long-handled adjustable pliers for squeezing stubborn new limes. "Just open the pliers to a channel large enough for the lime, and squeeze. There's not a lime on the planet that won't give up its juice." Needle-nosed pliers are useful for picking pin bones out of fish fillets.
9. Hammer or rubber mallet: Excellent for extracting pomegranate seeds; commenter says, "Divide it in half equatorially and crack the spine of each half, then put each half face-down in a bowl and wallop it." Also useful for crushing nuts, cracking caramel, and smashing garlic cloves. I've used it to break up chunks of frozen fruit.
10. Single-edge razor blade: A commenter says it's useful for removing labels, scoring fish, opening blister packs, and slicing garlic.
Do you have any non-culinary tool recommendations? Please share in the comments below.