As home cooks, we rely on our instincts, our knowledge, and our curiosities—but we also have to rely on our tools. Which is why we're asking the experts about the essential tools we need to make our favorite foods attainable in our own kitchens.
You don’t really need any special equipment for Japanese pickling or preserving projects beyond some sort of makeshift receptacle, drop lid, and weights. Nothing special.
That said, I get great pleasure from crocks, wooden barrels, and all the accoutrements that go along with pickling and preserving. The beauty in any artisanal object makes a project become that much more pleasurable. And let’s face it: At the end of the day, projects can seem daunting time- and energy-wise. Having a beautiful crock to caress as you pack your miso mash, vegetables, or fish for a quick or long ferment gives you the inspiration and desire to forge on, even in the face of exhaustion.
So, are cool artisanal tools necessary? Maybe not. Essential? Maybe so. Essential in that pleasure is what elevates our life from the daily humdrum and fills us with some feeling of having connected, having touched something carefully made with heart. And that is certainly not going to be gotten from a plastic pickling bag or barrel. I chose the products in the Food52 Shop that spoke to me. My short list includes 12 items. My extended list, over 90. Which ones speak to you?
One of my favorite tools in the kitchen is my grater. The design of this solid, well-made grater harkens back to pre-war Japan. All of mine are antique and only get better with age. You can pass this along to your grandchildren.
Photo of cold noodle salad and rolling pins by Bobbi Lin; photo of soba by Tess Ward; photo of pickles by Alexandra Stafford; photos of mushrooms, mushroom log, and radishes by James Ransom; photo of knife sharpening by Alpha Smoot