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