Pressure Cookers. Pasta makers. A dozen different devices for brewing coffee. It’s easy to go nuts with kitchen tech. But while a lot of guys have cupboards filled with pricey plug-ins, many lack the simple hand-powered helpers that cut prep time in half.
Here are the indispensible low-tech items every home cook should have, along with our sturdy, well-made recommendations for each.
Victorio Johnny Apple Peeler
Whether you’re baking apple pie or scalloped potatoes, half the challenge is peeling all those spuds and Grannie Smiths. Cut your prep time in half with this peeler/corer/slicer. Made with enamel-coated cast iron and backed by a 5-year warranty you’ll never use, this bad boy will be a part of your kitchen armory for decades to come.
HANDHELD CITRUS PRESS
Dovetail Stainless Steel Lemon and Lime Juice Squeezer
Whether you’re mixing mojitos, making a salad dressing, or adding a hit of lime to your Mexican dishes, a citrus press helps you quickly—and, more importantly, thoroughly—squeeze every drop of juice from your lemons and limes. Unlike most on the market, this one won’t fall apart on you after six months.
Ikea Koncis Garlic Press
Many French cooks eschew the press in favor of mashing garlic with the side of a knife and chopping what’s left into bits. But that leaves you with little bits of garlic clove—not the creamy paste produced by a good press. You probably don’t associate Ikea with kitchen tools. But this simple, durable press is a good-looking (and super-cheap) tiny wonder.
PL8 Professional Mandolin
Unless you have all evening to spend preparing dinner, a mandolin is a must-have timesaver for slicing and julienning vegetables. Most are plastic pieces of junk. Not this sturdy stainless steel boss.
MORTAR AND PESTLE
Olivewood Mortar and Pestle
If you haven’t tried crushed coriander seed as a coating for strip steaks or filets, you won’t believe what you’ve been missing. That’s only one of many uses for this handcrafted olivewood mortar and pestle set.
Classic Series Zester/Grater
Whether you need a little lemon zest for your grilled fish or some extra-fine Parmesan for your pasta, no tool is as handy as a Microplane. If you want the best, go to the company who gave this tool its name.
Shun Classic Combination Honing Steel
If you’re not honing your kitchen knives after every few uses, you’re working with an inferior tool. While a true “sharpening” will require a stone and a knowledgeable hand, a honing steel—when used properly—is your best defense against a dull blade and the missing fingertips that result from having to push hard while slicing and dicing.
Stanton Trading 8-Inch Muddler
Unless you’re a cocktail connoisseur, you’ll probably only break this guy out on Kentucky Derby Day when the occasion calls for mint juleps. Regardless of whether you use it once a day or once a week, this no-nonsense muddler is a classy addition to your home bar.
OXO Steel Salad Spinner
If you’re a fan of organic, local greens—the stuff sold at your neighborhood farmer’s market—you need a spinner to clean away the soil and natural detritus that accumulates on lettuce that hasn’t been mechanically washed and hermetically sealed. While most spinners are plastic POSs, this stainless steel spinner is built to last.