Equipment Review: Sharp Kitchen Gadgets

October 9, 2006 at 2:00 am (Equipment reviews)

Kuhn Rikon Swiss Double Edged PeelerI am a picky peeler, so it’s saying a lot when I tell you that I love my vegetable peeler. It’s a Kuhn Rikon Double Edged (or Double Blade) Swiss Peeler. I find it extremely comfortable to hold, and it never seems to get dull even though I’ve had it for years. The only downside is that it rusts easily, so I always dry it immediately after washing it. Also, it doesn’t work well on really round, ridged squashes, but other than that it’s great. I highly recommend it!  My mother, however, says its takes off too much of the veggies.



Another gadget I’m very fond of is my microplane zester. It comes in two versions: one with a plastic handle and one without. I much prefer the one with the handle. I love these zesters because they don’t get any of the bitter white pith, they yield a very fine zest, and the way the metal is folded over (see below), the zest gets collected in the folds of the zester, and doesn’t fall out.

Every kitchen needs a pair of scissors. I’ve always just bought whatever brand is cheap and has long blades and big handles. I don’t have a particular brand recommendation, but if you don’t have a pair in the kitchen–get one!


Sizes and styles: Many people say you only need three knives:  a large chef’s knife, a serrated knife, and a paring knife.   I think I could get by with those three, but I have more.

  • 9-inch chefs knife:  The extra length comes in handy occasionally, like when splitting a winter squash or large cabbage in half.
  • 6-inch santoku knife:  If you always cook alone, then you can just get one large chef’s knive, but if you ever cook with someone else, then it’s really nice to have two large knives.  I don’t have any smaller knives for chopping.  Some people find even a 6-inch knife too big; for example, when my sister came to visit, she kept asking if I had any smaller knives for chopping.  Nope!
  • paring knife:  I use this to take bad spots out of apples or potatoes, and for other occasional tasks.
  • large serrated knife:  For cutting bread, I like to have a long, quite thin bread knife.  This can also be used for cutting tomatoes, but I prefer something smaller.
  • small serrated knife:  I have a cheap, small and thin serrated knife for cutting tomatoes.

Derek also likes to have a short, fat knife for cutting soft cheeses, but I rarely use it.

Brands:  I have cheap knives and expensive knives, but I don’t love any of them.  The key is to find a knife with a handle that feels comfortable, and then keep it sharp.

Knife sharpener:

I bought a sharpening stone years ago, but I never really figured out how to use it.  Now I use the accusharp knife sharpener, which costs about ten dollars and is idiot-proof.  It takes only a few swipes to make my knives super sharp. Supposedly it makes your knives wear out faster by taking off more metal than a professional sharpener, but for me it’s worth it to always have sharp knives.  I also have a diamond steel I use to hone my knifes.  If you don’t have a good knife sharpener than take them in to be professionally sharpened someplace that uses a real sharpening stone, not some cheap electric knife sharpener.

Other sharp kitchen gadgets I own:

  • A mandoline. I’ve always looked at mandolines with excitement and trepidation. I’ve read so many mixed reviews on Amazon I just didn’t know what to think. I received an Oxo mandoline as a wedding present, however, and will write up a review when I get a chance.
  • Julienning peeler.  I’ve tried two different brands and neither worked very well.  They julienned soft vegetables like cucumbers moderately well, but they completely failed to julienne hard vegetables like carrots.
  • Grapefruit knife.  Get a curved, serrated one.  I’ve also heard good things about a double grapefruit knife, but haven’t tried it yet.
  • Fat microplane grater for grating cheeses finely, or other handheld grater.
  • Box grater.

Sharp electrical appliances:

  • Food processor.
  • Blender.
  • Stick blender.
  • Spice grinder.

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