Now that you're committed to receiving 25 weeks of produce, you're probably going to be spending a little more time in the kitchen! And what could be better, really? Cooking is fun and creative, it's healthier for you and it's a great way to bring the whole family together. To make things easier (and more enjoyable!) we recommend outfitting your kitchen with a few "must-have" kitchen tools. These are the tools we use in our farmhouse kitchen on a daily basis, and I hope they help you make the most out of your CSA share this year.
MY TOP 5 MUST-HAVE KITCHEN TOOLS
1) Salad Spinner - This will become your go-to kitchen tool! I use the bowl of the spinner to submerge and wash all of my greens - from lettuce leaves to spinach, kale and swiss chard. Place the bowl in your sink and fill with cold water. Dump your greens in and swish them around. If they're a little dehydrated or limp, letting them soak in the bowl of cold water will usually revive them in about 15 minutes. Once washed, transfer the greens to the top of the spinner and dump out the water...then spin dry! Make sure you dump out the water at least once during your spin and then spin again! Making sure your greens are really dry means that they'll last longer in the fridge and in your salad!
2) Produce Storage Bags - I typically hate using plastic, but storing leafy greens in an airtight bag (no, reusable mesh will not work here) is absolutely essential if you want them to last beyond a day or two in the fridge. The key to keeping greens fresh is keeping the moisture locked in, so when you get home store your bunches of kale, heads of lettuce and bunches of parsley inside these bags. They wash easily and can be reused indefinitely as long as you don't rip them. A must-have!
3) Vegetable Peeler - This peeler makes short work out of slivering away the peels on your root veggies, cucumbers and other thick-skinned produce. They make all sorts of fancy peelers, but Farmer Matt (who used to be a chef!) swears by this one. It's inexpensive and easy to use, so what's not to love?
4) Victorinox Fibrox 8-Inch Chef’s Knife - Farmer Matt said this should be #1 on this list. You've gotta have a good sharp knife!
5) Victorinox Cutlery 3-Piece Paring Knife Set, Black Poly Handles - Particularly when cooking with veggies, you could use 4-5 paring knives to create just one dish! This is an excellent set.
Not "essential", but here are my TOP 5 GOOD-TO-HAVE KITCHEN TOOLS
6) Garlic Press - This is a fancy (and albeit slight more expensive) model, but for the amount of garlic I use on a daily basis, a good press is a a must!
7) Citrus Juicer - I use this to make my lemon water every morning, and daily to make lemon based vinaigrettes and dressings. Inexpensive and extremely useful! I bought my first juicer about 3 years ago and now can't imagine life without it.
8) Microplane Grater/Zester - This is a must-have for grating your own parmesan cheese and zesting lemons, limes and oranges.
9) Vegetable Chopper - Confession: I added this to the list even though we don't have one in our kitchen! Our friend, Emilie Raffa of The Clever Carrot blog (as well as many other great home cooks) highly recommend this tool, so I'm ordering one for our farmhouse kitchen as we speak! I'm sure my kids are going to love it!
10) Immersion Blender - No more pouring steaming hot soup into a blender to whizz up in batches. This eliminates the need to transfer your soup into another container. Genius!
Now for some appliances....
11) Food Processor - I have my mom's old Cuisinart from the 80's and it works like a charm. They come in all different sizes, but this is a good, basic model perfect for making pesto, hummus, chopping veggies, making cookie dough, pancake batter, nut butter....I could go on.
12) Juicer - I bought our first juicer about 6 years ago, and it was a game changer in our kitchen! Now, whenever we have leftover root veggies, greens, or pretty much anything else, we just juice it! The kids love it too. We have an Omega juicer, which we like better for juicing greens, but this one is a good entry-level juicer that will handle all sorts of veggies.
Finally, make sure that you have a good-sized SALAD BOWL and TONGS. You're going to be eating a lot of salads! A good quality, heavy-bottom SOUP POT and a quality ROASTING DISH are also must-haves that didn't make it on my "official" list. Tell me, what's on your "Top 10" list of kitchen essentials?
Happy Cooking! xoMaggie