When you’re just starting as a home cook, it can be hard to know what what you need to buy. Here’s a helpful basic kitchen equipment list.
*You don’t have to buy every single thing on this list, you can add to it as you go along. This is just intended as a guide for new cooks.
So what do you need to get started when you’re learning how to cook? You don’t need to spend a fortune, so here is a basic kitchen equipment list to guide you. Buy the best you can afford; it will save you money in the long run.
Here’s a list of what you need to get started. You can add items as you go; there’s no need to buy them all at once. Unless you want to, and money is no object of course. We will start with the most important kitchen tool on the list.
My favourite brand of knives is Sabatier. The set I’m using now has been with me for almost 22 years and is still going strong. These knives come with a 25-year guarantee, are very well made, and nicely balanced. When you hold one in your hand, it feels comfortable. Sabatier knives come in all different sizes, from small paring knives to large meat cleavers. They’re one of the pricier options but this extra outlay, in the beginning, will pay you back many times over.
Over the years, I’ve found that there are 5 knives that I would consider essential to start with. You can add more as you go, if you want to.
Chef’s Knife: This is a large knife with a wide blade that tapers down towards the tip. It’s a good all-around knife, and it can be used to slice and chop anything from vegetables to fresh herbs. Chef’s knives come in various sizes, anywhere from 16 cm up to 36 cm. There are different-sized knives for different tasks. You will learn over time which ones you prefer for a particular task.
My favourite all-purpose chef’s knife is one that has a 20cm blade. The handle should fit comfortably in your palm and it should feel like there’s a good balance of weight between the blade and the handle. If the blade feels heavier than the handle then you won’t get the control and precision that you need.
Paring Knife: This is a small knife with a blade around 8 – 10 cm long, but it has many uses in the kitchen. You can use it to peel, chop, trim, or core fruit and vegetables. It also allows you to do things like de-veining raw prawns, hulling strawberries, and crushing garlic. Again, test the knife to see how it feels in your hand. This is light in comparison to a chef’s knife but it does the job.
Carving Knife: This does as the name suggests; it has a long, thin blade with a slight upturn at the tip. It’s useful for carving joints of meat, whole chickens or turkeys, and racks of ribs. It’s normally used alongside a carving fork, which holds the joint securely in place while you carve it. If you don’t want to buy a carving fork, you can use an ordinary table fork for this job, so don’t worry.
Bread Knife: This is essential if you like your bread as a whole, crusty loaf as opposed to the ready-sliced variety. You need a sharp knife with a serrated edge to cut cleanly through the crust without squashing the loaf in the process. It also comes in handy for cutting fruit and vegetables with tough skins, like pineapples or pumpkins.
Utility Knife: This is another general-purpose knife with a wide range of uses. It’s smaller and lighter than a chef’s knife but it can still make fast work of chopping and slicing food, such as onions and tomatoes. This is the knife I use most often, along with the paring knife.
*If you really want to add a meat cleaver to your knife collection then please feel free. But the knives I have listed above will be enough to meet your food preparation needs for years to come.
Once you have your complete set of knives, it’s worth taking the time to learn how to store them safely and keep them razor-sharp, and ready for use.
*Some people are afraid of sharp knives, but here’s the thing – a sharp knife is much safer to use than a blunt one. A sharp knife will glide easily through the food, but a blunt knife could slip and take a chunk out of your hand, especially if you’re trying to cut something tough like a cabbage or a pumpkin.
How to Store Your Knives Safely
Here’s an important tip – do not store your knives in the cutlery drawer. You could get a nasty cut when you’re rummaging around for the bottle opener and your knives will not stay sharp for long.
The best way to store your knives is on a magnetic strip fixed to the wall, with the blades pointing downwards, or in a protective sheath, usually made from cloth or leather. Some knives come with individual sheaths so you can store them in the cutlery drawer if you want. Zyliss has knives with individual sheaths. They also have rubber handles for a more secure grip. This is important if your hands are damp when you’re chopping food – less chance of an accident happening. Well worth checking out.
Keeping Your Knives Sharp and Ready to Use
Sharpening your knives and keeping them sharp is an ongoing task. You can’t just sharpen them once and expect to use them indefinitely without having to sharpen them again. As I said before, a blunt knife is more dangerous than a sharp one. There are many different knife sharpeners on the market, ranging from sharpening steels and whetstones to electric and manual sharpeners. Steels and whetstones are the most effective way to sharpen knives, but you need a lot of practice to get the angle just right. Choose the one you feel most comfortable with.
You might be better off with a manual or electric sharpener to start with until you feel more confident sharpening and using knives. Don’t put knives in the dishwasher, even if they’re marked as ‘dishwasher safe’. Dishwashers tend to make blades dull and blunt. Wash them by hand, in hot soapy water, and dry and make sure you dry them thoroughly.
I hope that you found this information helpful and that you can now go out and buy what you need, knowing that you’re buying the right tools for the job. Please leave your comments below, or if you have any questions please get in touch and I will be happy to help you.
My next post is about pans. Read all about the best pots and pans for cooking
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