While cooking and assembling meals can be fun, the preparation tasks involved are often tedious and time-consuming. In particular, preparing salads or soups that call for a large number of chopped vegetables can take up an entire afternoon. However, the right equipment and tools can make these tasks go much more quickly so you can enjoy your meal that much sooner. If you do a fair amount of cooking, these food preparation tools should be essentials in your kitchen.
A food processor can make many food preparation tasks much faster and easier. A variety of models exist at varying price points with a variety of features; most come with several blade attachments so they can be used in a many different ways. A chopping blade can chop fruits, vegetables, herbs and nuts within seconds, and can puree fruits and vegetables if you use it longer. Some food processors also come with a dough hook so you can easily mix pizza, bread and pasta dough. With a shredding blade, you can grate cheese for recipes.
A blender can come in handy for food preparation. It is typically used for pureeing ingredients to make thick soups or stew bases. For the most versatile option, go with an immersion blender. It has a long, stick-like body with a blade at the end so you can submerge it in the pot that you plan to cook your soup in instead of having to transfer hot ingredients into a blender pitcher. Immersion blenders often come with additional attachments that allow you to chop vegetables, fruits and nuts and whip cream or egg whites for desserts.
Perhaps the most basic food preparation equipment for your kitchen is a set of knifes. If your budget does not allow for an entire set, start with a high-quality chef's knife, which can be used for slicing meats and chopping vegetables, herbs and nuts. You may also want to purchase a smaller paring knife, which is ideal for more delicate tasks such as mincing garlic and herbs and peeling fruit.
If you do not have the budget for a food processor, a manual cheese grater can help with some similar tasks. It is intended to grate a variety of hard and soft cheeses and usually features several grating surfaces that range from fine to course, depending on your needs. Some are also equipped with a slicing side, which allows you to use your grater to slice and grate vegetables for salads and soups.
Peeling fruits and vegetables with a knife can be time-consuming and dangerous. Instead, opt for a vegetable peeler when you need to peel several pounds of potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner or grate carrots for a salad. You can also use your peeler to shave chocolate for the tops of desserts.
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