Cheap Kitchen Utensils
Cooking Tools That Are Cheaper at Hardware Stores
Getting caught up in the joy of cooking can certainly get expensive. Home cooks often spend hundreds of dollars assembling arsenals of specialized cooking utensils. But did you know you can buy many advanced kitchen tools more cheaply at the hardware store? In many cases, the only difference between a hardware store tool and the kitchen version is price. Read on to see what cheap kitchen utensils you can find at your local Lowe's or Home Depot.
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Cooking Twine.Skip the small packages of kitchen twine sold at supermarkets and buy a cheap roll of twine at the hardware store. Look for cotton twine only; jute may be too thick for some uses, and nylon and other synthetic twines will melt. Twine comes in handy for trussing up poultry, tying together herbs, and holding together roasts.
Paintbrushes.Use a common paintbrush to baste and glaze instead of paying a premium for cooking-specific basting brushes. Because small paintbrushes are so cheap at the hardware store -- usually less than $1 -- it may be worth buying a few different sizes for different dishes. Long-handled paintbrushes make especially good cheap kitchen utensils for glazing meats on a barbecue grill.
Blowtorch.Make creme brulee correctly by browning the top with a torch. A chef's blowtorch starts at around $30, but hardware store torches are much cheaper and hold more fuel. The Bernzomatic Fat Boy two-piece propane torch is only $13 at Home Depot and holds a 17-ounce fuel canister. A kitchen torch can quickly sear fish, caramelize meat, toast meringue or marshmallow, and, of course, theatrically light a flame.
Pizza Stones and Bricks.While the secret to a great pizza might be a higher temperature than your oven can achieve, it's possible to approximate a pizzeria at home. Boing Boing Gadgets has a guide to building your own brick oven by setting up a few cheap, unglazed fire or ceramic bricks in your home oven. The concentrated heat turns out beautiful homemade pizzas and breads and can be used for other recipes, such as "chicken under a brick." There's no need to shell out dough for a dedicated pizza stone. Instead, buy large, unglazed ceramic or quarry tiles from the hardware store for mere cents and use them to get the bottom of your pies hot and crispy. Unglazed terra cotta can work as well.
Graters and Zesters.To find cheap kitchen utensils for zesting lemons and other citrus fruits, head to the woodworking aisle. Microplane, which makes some of the most popular graters and zesters around, originally sold these utensils in hardware stores as woodworking tools. As cooks began to buy them for kitchen use, the company began to market them as cooking tools, at higher prices. As long as it's made of stainless steel, a rasp works well as a kitchen grater or citrus zester.
Cedar Planks and Hickory Chips.To add wood-smoked flavor to your food, buy wood planks or chips from the hardware store instead of a specialty kitchen store. Cedar pairs especially well with salmon on the grill, making it a good buy for summer barbecues. Try adding hickory chips to the grill to impart some woodsy goodness to your meat.
Photo by sxc.hu/yaneq
Pliers.To pick small pin bones out of fresh fish, use needle-nose pliers from the hardware store. The pliers are precise, which is essential when you are working with delicate fish, and, best of all, cheap. You can find needle-nose pliers for less than $2, while fish tweezers cost $20 or more.
Scrapers and Knives.Bakers can get creative with tools such as drywall scrapers and paint knives. Use these as cheap kitchen utensils instead of standard pastry knives and cake decoration tools. A joint knife can cost less than $1, compared with $7 for a plastic dough scraper at Sur La Table. Look for stainless-steel tools for baking and confectionary work.
Have you tried any of these alternative kitchen utensils? What other hardware store finds double as cooking tools? Let us know in the comments.