The Tiny Kitchen Chronicles: Five Superfluous Tools (And What to Use Instead)

tinykitchen.jpg
Flickr user stop_that
The Anaheim outpost of OC Weekly's test kitchen is a tiny place, an apartment-style galley in which it's hard to fit even two people. To say that storage is at a premium is quite an understatement; tools are only permitted if there is no other way to accomplish a task.

Originally, the title of this article was going to be "Five Useless Kitchen Tools," but that's not quite accurate. The tools below have their uses; they aren't necessary to a fully functional kitchen, however, and if you're scrimping for space, you can easily do without them.

1. The sifter

floursifter-bad.jpg
Flickr user theatrical03
It doesn't matter if the flour sifts with a crank or by squeezing a lever on the handle; there is no job a sifter can do that justifies its presence in a small kitchen; it's impossible to clean, it tends to rust easily, and it's too tall to fit in a drawer.

sifter.jpg
Dave Lieberman
What to use instead: A fine-mesh sieve. You can sift dry goods through it by whacking it against the heel of your hand over a bowl, and you can use it as a small strainer or a cheap chinois for things such as de-seeding raspberry sauce. A set of three should be less than $20 at a kitchen store and will nest right in a kitchen drawer.



2. The citrus zester

zester-bad.jpg
Flickr user 94449473@N00
It's not that a citrus zester is a bad idea; it's that it's always poorly designed. Those five or six tiny holes create what has to be the least tender citrus zest in the world, and even with careful application, the lemon, lime, grapefruit or orange in question retains half its zest.

limezester.jpg
Dave Lieberman
What to use instead: A potato peeler. The Y-shaped ones work just as well as the standard potato peelers. Use a gentle sawing motion to remove the zest in strips; it will be soft and tender at the edge, and unless you are applying too much pressure, it's almost impossible to get any of the bitter pith with a peeler. Then use a knife to mince it.

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LT
LT

I realize why it's superfluous but I do love my citrus squeezer (not reamer). I used to do the fork method, but it was messy and just didn't seem to get that much juice out. I also love my microplane grater, for citrus and for ginger. I cut my garlic with a knife. (For the cheap person: Me, too. I just ask for these things for birthdays and Christmas.)

DanGarion
DanGarion

What are your thoughts on using a microplane to zest citrus? That's what I use.

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

The only issue with using a microplane to zest citrus is that you have to be careful not to go into the bitter pith. It's not hard to do if you're paying attention, of course, but there be dragons.

Potato peelers make great twists for alcoholic beverages. If you're anal-retentive, you can trim the twists to square them off (or whatever shape you like).

OCLibrarian
OCLibrarian

Love it! I use my Microplane for many things, but mostly, for lemon/lime zest.

Dwayne
Dwayne

I guess I pass this test. I have none of the superfluous gear.... because I'm cheap.

A previous poster made a comment about using tongs to replace a citrus reamer. I don't believe they were clear. You can use tongs to SQUEEZE lemons and limes. Cut them in half, wedge the half in near the hinge of the tongs, and use the leverage provided by the tongs to squeeze out all the juice.

digkv
digkv

Actually, I was talking about using it exactly like a citrus reamer. If you look at a close pair of tongs it is similarly shaped to that of a citrus reamer. Your leverage idea does intrigue me but I'm trying to remember my levers from physics right now and i can't imagine how using tongs would make it easier to squeeze.

Dwayne
Dwayne

You get long lever arms. Since you referred to physics, think torque. Force times length of levers. Or think that it's a big nut cracker.

digkv
digkv

You can also use your tongs as a citrus reamer, it works beautifully. Also if you want that pasty like texture that comes from a garlic press use a microplane and grate your garlic into a fine paste. The microplane is probably one of the best multitaskers in the kitchen, I love it.

Chownoir
Chownoir

Completely agree on the microplane vs rotary. Years ago I got a nice expensive rotary because I love lots of Parmesan over plain buttered pasta. But I don't think I've used it ever since I got the microplane. Not only is it easier to clean, it's easier to store next to the spatulas and spoons. Everything lays flat.

Thanks for the citrus cutting and juicing tip. I always use the hand as strainer method. This sounds so much more effective and efficient.

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