The 6 Essential Utensils You're Dead-In-The-Kitchen Without

While no one’s going to cry foul if you lose a melon baller, there are a handful of single­-use tools in your kitchen that can utterly ruin an evening without them.

While no one’s going to cry foul if you lose a melon baller, there are a handful of single­-use tools in your kitchen that can utterly ruin an evening without them.

They’re easy to forget since they only do that one thing – but that one thing is essential.

1. Can Opener


It can be a lonely existence, at times, for this rare, rare talent.

While can openers of one design or another have been around since the 1850s, the double wheel design many still use today was created less than a century ago in 1925. Ah, progress.

What good is a can opener? Well, how much do you enjoy tuna fish sandwiches or San Marzano tomatoes? When you consider the alternative is smashing it open on your counter or stabbing it with scissors (both options we’ll leave you more angry than full), pretty darn good.

Aside from opposable thumbs, can openers are the only thing that separates us from wild animals. Either use them both or accept a feral life among the woodland creatures.

2. Pizza Cutter


[Not pictured: A confident human being smiling about this major accomplishment of the day.]

Delivery pizza does the hard work for you, but if you are someone who prefers tossing your dough and making pizza from scratch (seriously fun, and simple), or even just heating up a frozen DiGiorno’s, you’ll need a pizza cutter.

Try as you might, no knife – be it chef’s or bread – can take the place of a pizza cutter. It’s rolling blade and long handle give you the perfect angle to slice and dice your way to pizza heaven.

While there are numerous pizza cutter designs, the most popular is the single wheel. You might be surprised to learn that it was invented by David S. Morgan in 1892 as a roller knife for cutting sheets of wallpaper.

3. Lemon/Lime Squeezer


Your hands and eyes will thank us.

Yeah, you can squeeze a lime or lemon with your bare hands, but you risk making a mess or shooting citric acid straight in your eye. It might just be citrus, but it’s still acid.

Either pack goggles or bring along this handy juicer, which offers you far more control over the amount of flavor you add to a dish.

While the oldest known lemon squeezer dates back to 18th century Turkey, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office lists more than 200 patents with most of those dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s.

4. Colander


There’s no replacement for a pot with perfectly placed holes.

If you are looking for the cheapest, easiest way to feed a group of ten for as little coin as possible, it has to be pasta. Of course without a colander you are tempting fate, my friend. Your best case scenario is mushy glutenous pasta, at worse – third-degree burns.

As such a simple utensil most assume early civilizations used one form of a colander or another though the word itself entered the English language as far back as the middle of the 14th century.

5. Corkscrew


Would you rather be looking up a DIY solution on YouTube or sharing that bottle of wine?

With corked wine came corkscrews. There are hundreds of patents, but the majority used today are one of two varieties: The “waiter’s friend” that resembles a pocket knife (pictured above) was patented by Carl F.A. Wienke in 1882, while the “wing” design was patented six years later by H.S. Heely.

Forgetting a corkscrew is the first level of hell. A screwdriver might work. That trick you saw on the Internet using a shoe will only leave marks on your wall, and don’t even think to attempt that one with the samurai sword. Too bad Domino’s doesn’t deliver Pinot Grigio.

6. Garlic Press


Bourdain does make a fair point: “I found it took longer to clean the press than to actually use it.”

If you love big chunks of garlic in your food, which I am sure some of you do, then by all means slice, chop or mince away, but if you want a stronger garlic flavor blended in seamlessly, you need a garlic press.

Invented in the late 1950s, amongst chefs the garlic press is a love-it-or-hate-it device with the haters including such notable chefs as Anthony Bourdain and Alton Brown though one can’t deny the function it serves.