Materials Used for Cooking Equipment:
Lightweight, durable and rustresistant, aluminium conducts heat quickly. Avoid flimsy, thin aluminium saucepans which are relatively inexpensive but which do not last. Choose heavy-gauge items for better heat distribution and longer wear. Hard water and alkaline and acid foods such as eggs, tomatoes and vinegar tend to discolour aluminium; so remove food from the pot immediately after cooking.
- Since steel is a poor heat conductor, the bottoms of many stainless steel saucepans and frying pans are bonded with copper or aluminium. Utensils which are unbonded are liable to develop hot spots which can burn food. Stainless steel is sturdy and easy to clean.
- Because of its ability to absorb and retain heat, cast iron remains the favourite of many cooks for frying and baking. Properly seasoned and cared for, a cast-iron interior acts like a nonstick finish but unseasoned cast iron will rust. To season, rub the clean, dry utensil with cooking oil and heat in a moderate oven for two hours. Repeat if the seasoning comes off with use.
- Beautiful and expensive, copper transmits heat evenly and quickly. But copper is easy to scratch and difficult to clean. Some copper implements are lined with tin or stainless steel, others that look like copper are actually copper-clad aluminium.
- Nonstick surfaces have improved in recent years; the newest ones are less easily scratched or scraped, although the finishes still tend to chip over time. Nonstick frying pans are especially useful for greaseless frying.
- Three saucepans, small, medium and large sizes, with lids.
- One large stew pan for cooking pasta, soups or stews.
- Two frying pans, medium and large sizes.
- Two casserole dishes, 1-litre and 2-litre
- One baking/roasting pan with a rack.
- One shallow, round or square cake pan.
- One deep, round or square cake pan.
- One scone tray.
- One loaf pan.
- One standard-size patty pan.
Miscellaneous Essential Cooking Equipment:
- Set of mixing bowls; stainless steel, pyrex or ceramic.
- Set of measuring cups.
- Set of measuring spoons in 1 tablespoon, 1 teaspoon, 1/a and 1/4 teaspoon sizes.
- One glass measuring jug showing cup and litre measurements.
- Pair of kitchen scales.
- 2 or 3 wooden spoons. (Wooden spoons will not scratch enamel or nonstick utensils and will never burn your hand.)
- Flexible rubber or plastic scraper, with a blade 3 to 8cm wide.
- Long-handled cooking fork, preferably of stainless steel.
- Long-handled cooking spoon, preferably of stainless steel.
- Egg slice for turning eggs, hamburgers and croquettes, as well as pancakes.
- Long-handled slotted spoon for retrieving vegetables or dumplings from boiling water, or deep-fried food from fat.
- Wire whisk for beating egg whites, whipping cream and beating sauces, batters, salad dressings and other mixtures.
- 4-sided grater for grating cheese, nutmeg, lemon rind, etc.
- Metal colander, with legs.
- 2 sieves (strainers), one fine and one coarse mesh, preferably of stainless steel.
- 2 funnels, one small and one large, for transferring liquids.
- Hand citrus juicer.
- Wire rack for cooling baked goods.
- Kitchen twine for trussing poultry, tying roasts and securing herb bouquets.
- Can opener.
- Corkscrew. Choose a lever corkscrew.
- 2 or more pot holders, or oven gloves.
Good quality knives are essential for quick, efficient chopping, slicing and dicing. They are expensive but, if well cared for, they will last a lifetime. Choose knives made of hard carbon steel or stainless steel. Carbon steel knives take a keener edge and maintain it longer, but they must be wiped clean immediately after use or they will discolour or rust. Choose knives with blades that extend inside the handle all the way to the end and that feel balanced in your hand. An unbalanced knife is tiring to use.
Handles should be of close-grained hardwood or plastic impregnated wood. Smooth plastic handles are inclined to be slippery in wet and greasy hands.Do not wash knives in the dishwasher or let them soak in water. Always use them on a surface that is softer than the blade itself such as wood or plastic. Use knives for cutting only, and store them in a knife rack or some other place where they will not get bent or snagged. Keep knives well honed with a sharpening stone or a butcher’s steel the length of your longest knife. A blunt knife performs badly, needs a great deal of force and can easily slip out of control. Avoid electric sharpeners, which tend to ruin the edge.
Recommended cutlery and cutting boards:
Cook’s knife for chopping about 20 to 25cm long. A cook’s knife has a triangular-shaped blade which prevents the knuckles from hitting the chopping surface.
Utility knife, with a narrow blade 10 to 15cm long for slicing and chopping vegetables and fruit, disjointing poultry, filleting fish and trimming the fat from meat.
Serrated knife for slicing bread, tomatoes, citrus fruits, cakes and other foods.
Swivel-bladed vegetable peeler or paring knife for paring, trimming and coring fruits and vegetables. A swivel-bladed peeler removes only the peel, while a paring knife takes off a layer of pulp as well.
Chopping board. Wooden boards should be at least 2.5cm thick to prevent warping. Because excessive dampness causes a wooden board to crack, wipe after each use with a damp sponge and dry immediately. Scour the board occasionally with lemon juice or a bicarbonate of soda solution; rinse and dry thoroughly. Polypropylene boards can go into the dishwasher or be soaked in hot, sudsy water.