How to find the thingamajig in the kitchen

  • Nicole Anzia Special To The Washington Post
  • Tuesday, September 16, 2014 5:25pm
  • Life

Are you the proud owner of a corn zipper, avocado cuber or swivel peeler? Not sure? You’re not alone. It’s always so tempting to snatch up some new, shiny kitchen tool that promises to make your life easier, but keep in mind that if you buy it, you also have to store it.

Here’s some tips on how to keep it all organized:

Inventory and need

Most people have drawers full of kitchen tools but use only five or six repeatedly, while the others go mostly untouched. If you’re looking at what you’ll need to prepare a new recipe or thinking about buying a new gadget, first make sure you don’t already own one. And then, before you buy that new specialty gadget, ask yourself whether you really need it and whether you will use it more than once. If the answer is yes, then go for it. If the answer is no, then walk away.

Drawer storage

If you have ample drawer storage for cooking tools, consider organizing them by how often you use them and by their purpose. Your favorite wooden spoon, spatula, ice cream scoop and vegetable peeler should be kept together in an easy-to-reach place near your major food preparation area. Everything you use for baking could be stored in one place, wine and bottle openers can be stored in another, and grill tools should have their designated spot. Anything you haven’t used in the past two years should be discarded if it’s rusty or unusable or donated if it’s still in decent shape.

Drawer dividers or utensil trays can work wonders for keeping gadgets in order and ensuring they’re easy to find. Be sure to accurately measure your drawers, especially the height, before going to buy one. In shallow drawers, dividers with a lot of small, narrow sections will not be as utilitarian as those with wider sections that can comfortably hold one or more objects. If you have deeper drawers, consider buying some narrow bins to keep things separated.

Cabinet storage

If you have limited drawer storage, there are several good cabinet-door options. One popular choice is to use a pegboard with hooks inside a cabinet or pantry door. Think Julia Child, but on a smaller, less obvious scale. This is an inexpensive and practical solution for storing things like measuring cups and spoons, cheese graters and spatulas. Alternatively, a series of single hooks can be adhered to the inside of a cabinet door. Cutting boards that take up precious counter space can be stored using a magazine holder mounted to the inside of a cabinet door. Components for hand and upright mixers, blenders and food processors should be kept together in labeled bins or baskets.

Under-cabinet storage

Using wall space or your backsplash for gadget storage is also an option. If done neatly with tools that are in good condition, this method not only looks nice, but also makes finding what you need and cleaning up a breeze. Magnetic strips can be used for knife and spice storage. A rod with hooks to hold spoons, whisks and ladles is also a popular solution.

As with organizing anything, maintenance is key. But because the kitchen is used every day, keeping things orderly can be a challenge. Many kitchen tools that are marketed to make our lives easier end up having the opposite effect.

Leonardo da Vinci said that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication — a good thing to keep in mind before you buy your next mango pitter.

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