Questions on selecting, maintaining, and using cooking tools and equipment.

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18
votes
2answers
3k views

Do honing steels wear out?

We have a knife set that's approximately 15 years old, and as we were honing a knife tonight, a question arose. Do honing steels get worn down over the years? Should they be replaced? If so, how ...
15
votes
2answers
58k views

Does water boil faster with the lid on?

When bringing water to a boil from cold water, what effect does a lid have on the time to boil? Does it increase or decrease the time? How much? Why?
13
votes
5answers
2k views

What are other uses for a pizza stone?

I recently acquired a pizza stone to use for baking bread. Other than pizza and bread, are there other uses for it in the kitchen?
10
votes
1answer
2k views

What to look for when choosing a dutch oven?

I've never had nor used a dutch oven, but I have a pile of recipes I want to try that require one. Are these all pretty similar? Or are there things I should look for in a good dutch oven? Or will ...
9
votes
5answers
28k views

Is it safe to use a propane torch bought at a Hardware store?

I've come across recipes that involve the use of a Butane or Propane torch. Is it safe to use a propane torch bought at the Hardware store, or is there something different about the torches and/or ...
9
votes
3answers
1k views

Ideal fridge temperature accounting for temperature spikes

I've read the question on the ideal fridge temperature, but am asking a more involved question about a baseline temperature and temperature spikes. How will a few hours each day at 10 C effect the ...
9
votes
2answers
26k views

How does a whipped cream charger work?

I recently got an iSi whipped cream container that charges with nitrous cannisters. I don't really understand how the thing works, which I think would help my use of the system. How does this actually ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

Overpressurizing a cream whipper?

This might be considered off-topic, but thought it was worth asking, as I have no idea where else to ask -- I'm trying to make something forcibly eject from a cake. I've done some testing with a can ...
7
votes
7answers
856 views

How can I make sifting easier?

I'm at the point where I will completely avoid certain recipes simply because they require sifting and I find it incredibly tedious. Is there a better method? A better tool? A magic sifter?
5
votes
3answers
1k views

How to know whether the teflon coated pan's life has reached end?

I use oil for cooking in the Teflon coated pan. I put the pan on a very low fire. (Simmer) Lately I have found that the onions get stuck to the bottom of the pan. How to know whether the teflon ...
3
votes
2answers
5k views

Calibrating a home gas oven

We have a new gas oven which is consistently 30-40F low compared to the dial setting (we've checked with two oven thermometers). While we can get it calibrated as a service call by the manufacturer, ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Are Non-Stick Bread Pans Destined to Fail?

Bought a pair of generic non-stick bread pans (Ecko or Good-Chef or some such). After 100 to 150 loaves, and gentle care, they're now more prone to sticking bread than the non-coated pans they were ...
2
votes
5answers
5k views

What features are important in a hand mixer?

I've always used the cheapest hand mixers (around 10 Euro). But I damaged a beater of my current one when I tried to make whipped canache - it was obviously too hard. So I plan to get a new one. ...
1
vote
5answers
20k views

When does the new home oven/stove smell go away?

Our last stove broke and our landlord had to replace it. We got one from GE Hotpoint and it seems like an OK stove. It's a gas model. We have had it for a few months now but haven't been able to ...
12
votes
5answers
24k views

Is copper cookware really better than stainless steel?

This is somewhat related to the question about copper vs. cast iron, but this is about copper vs. pure stainless steel. I had an old stainless steel stockpot that warped (it was very, very cheap ...
38
votes
13answers
9k views

What is the point of a salt mill?

Salt mills and pepper mills often come in pairs. I understand the purpose of the pepper mill: It breaks open the pepper corn and releases the aroma. But there is, to my knowledge, no such thing as a ...
25
votes
9answers
1k views

Unnecessary kitchen gadgets: a reference [closed]

There are a lot of advertised tools and electronic gadgets for every field; the kitchen is no exception. In my experience, there are a lot of useful tools for specific purposes (a garlic press, for ...
20
votes
14answers
135k views

Is there something better than mineral oil for cutting boards?

I've been using mineral oil to oil my wooden cutting boards ever since I found out this was a good thing to do. I had a couple of bamboo boards up until I bought a really great John Boos carving ...
14
votes
7answers
3k views

How to find a competent knife sharpener

I have a santoku that I will be wanting to get professionally sharpened in the next few months. This is the first knife I've owned that was reasonably expensive so I want to make sure I take care of ...
24
votes
9answers
39k views

Why is it necessary to preheat an oven?

Just about every recipe advises to preheat the oven before using it. I often forget this, but luckily this doesn't seem to matter all that much. Hence my question: why would it be necessary to preheat ...
10
votes
6answers
16k views

What is the best material for a cooking spoon?

We use standard wooden spoons, but they soon pick up stains from the various dishes. What are the pros and cons of the various woods, e.g. olive, Cilio Toscana Olivewood, beechwood, maple, bamboo, ...
10
votes
9answers
28k views

How to clean a burnt cast iron pot?

I have this cast iron pot that my friend completely burnt. I was wondering what might be done to save this pot. I realize that this question seems similar to this one but in that one his skillet is ...
9
votes
4answers
3k views

How to clean and maintain cast iron lids

I have a number of cast iron lids that fit skillets, dutch ovens, etc. Most have the little cone-shaped spikes on the underside to collect and return moisture to the food. I have no issues cleaning ...
17
votes
11answers
4k views

What types of cooking are pressure cookers most useful for?

We were just clearing out our kitchen and stared at this brand new, unused pressure cooker we got for our wedding over 10 years ago! We've never felt the need to use it before. I know it's supposed ...
16
votes
8answers
15k views

Does it take a special type of blender to make smoothies?

Or am I just doing it wrong? I have what I consider a typical blender that you might find in any American kitchen. It's a glass container with a cross shaped blade. The problem I have is that pieces ...
14
votes
8answers
2k views

What foods *require* a food processor?

I've got an immersion blender, a normal blender, and will eventually be getting a stand mixer. Are there any foods I absolutely have to have a food processor to make, where I can't use one of those? ...
13
votes
12answers
16k views

Using cast iron on a glass range

I currently rent, and the only problem I have with the house we're in is that it has a glass-top range. I absolutely love my cast iron cookware, and use it as often as possible. I've heard a few ...
12
votes
1answer
4k views

What kinds of pressure cookers are there, and what are they good for?

I have never owned a pressure cooker, nor been in a kitchen which has one. But they have been a topic around the site and the blog lately, so I got curious. When I took a look, I noticed that they ...
12
votes
5answers
2k views

Why buy a more expensive kitchen scale

It seems about time for me to give in to peer pressure and get a kitchen scale like everyone else. It seems like they would give my cooking more consistency if nothing else. I've payed attention to ...
11
votes
1answer
807 views

Why isn't glass ideal for the fermentation of sauerkraut?

I last made sauerkraut over 20 years ago, so embarking on it again I did some reading and chose an Alton Brown recipe. He specifically calls for the fermentation to be done in a plastic container. ...
10
votes
4answers
3k views

How can I prevent dough from wrapping around a dough hook?

I have a 5.5qt KitchenAid stand mixer with the burnished spiral ("pigtail") dough hook. This is not the C-hook. When I make a small amount (for example, using 250g of flour or approximately 2 cups) of ...
5
votes
4answers
3k views

What's the best option for water for tea in the office?

When making tea at home, I have all the equipment I need to make a fine cup of tea. In the office, however, my options are more limited. It seems my sources for hot water are: Straight from the tap ...
5
votes
2answers
6k views

Why would heating salt in a pan prevent food from sticking?

Quote from www.saltworks.us: Preventing food from sticking - Rub a pancake griddle with a small bag of salt to prevent sticking and smoking. Sprinkle a little salt in the skillet before frying ...
5
votes
3answers
778 views

Fruit peeling techniques

I came across this page (How to peel a mango) while surfing and I found it very interesting. What kind of methods and knives/kitchen gadgets do you use to peel fruits? Are there different tools to ...
24
votes
2answers
11k views

Dishwasher safety - “top shelf” vs. “bottom shelf”

The instruction manual for some of my kitchen equipment says "Dishwasher safe (top shelf)". What difference is there between what an object on the top shelf of a dishwasher experiences, and what ...
21
votes
4answers
2k views

What is the purpose of seasoning a skillet?

I've seen a couple questions on how to season a skillet, and this may be a dumb question, but why do you season a skillet? Does it impart flavor onto the food? For how long? (which I guess is one ...
13
votes
2answers
26k views

How does the power setting on a microwave work?

In general, how does the microwave power setting work? Is it a straight percentage of the maximum wattage or is it something less precise? For example, would the time to cook something in a 700 watt ...
11
votes
8answers
6k views

How to get a smooth paste from ground chickpeas?

I make Hummus quite often, and use my food processor to chop the chickpeas. This yields a sort of coarse paste, which is a little better if I peel the chickpeas first. Adding liquid to the mixture ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

Suggestions for convenient and safe methods of transporting a few meals without a vehicle?

I'd like to prepare a few meals for a cousin who recently gave birth. She lives about an hour and a half away, and I will be walking and taking public transportation to get there. Does anyone have ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

Utensil to thaw meat

A very long time ago, I was at a friend's house where her father took out this piece of ribbed metal from the cupboard. It was a dark piece of metal about the size of an adult hand. It had grooves on ...
10
votes
3answers
7k views

Do you use paper or cloth towel for patting a meat dry before frying?

It is advised to pat a steak dry before frying. I've used paper towels in the past for this, but sometimes parts of them stick to meat. Now and then I've used a clean cloth kitchen towel for patting ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

What are the advantages of using a stove instead of an oven?

Are there any advantages to using a stove instead of oven? As a woman of science, this is a question that has been lingering in my noggin for a very long time. The main points I'd like to see ...
9
votes
4answers
15k views

What does the “bold” setting on my Cuisinart coffee maker do?

I recently bought a Cuisinart coffee maker. It has a button to switch between "regular" and "bold" when brewing. I have no idea what this actually does. I thought that usually bold coffee came from ...
8
votes
5answers
4k views

Are there significant differences between different brands/models of immersion blenders?

I'm thinking of purchasing a new immersion blender as a gift for somebody that has a very old one which is quite literally being held together with duct tape. I own a Sunbeam model which I believe is ...
8
votes
8answers
8k views

What kind of wok should I get?

I saw the question on the site about preparing a wok, but I'm curious what kind I should get. I have heard of stainless steel, carbon steel, aluminum, etc. Also, there's a non-stick variety. I'm new ...
8
votes
9answers
40k views

What can you do with an infrared thermometer?

Infrared thermometers have plummeted in price in recent years, and are now inexpensive gadgets for the home cook, not to mention the pros. What are the primary uses of an infrared thermometer in the ...
7
votes
5answers
24k views

Ceramic vs Stainless Steel in coffee mugs

My travel mug broke :( Looking at replacements, I find that most travel mugs with designs tend to be stainless steel, whereas my prior mug was ceramic. Is there a difference in heat retention between ...
7
votes
6answers
19k views

Do I need to season a stainless steel saute pan?

Okay, I received a nice stainless steel saute pan for Christmas and in looking around online there are people that say I need to season it. Most of the techniques I've seen involve oil and salt and ...
7
votes
12answers
2k views

Best Office Coffee Solution [closed]

What is the best coffee solution for a small office (about 10 people)? We are looking for something that is: Tasty Fast Easy We have fairly discriminating taste, although it doesn't have to be ...
5
votes
6answers
4k views

How should I clean anodized cookware?

I'd been bought an anodised wok as a birthday present a couple of years back, but recently, when using a honey/mustard marinade, I managed to burn some of the excess marinade, and now can't seem to ...