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10 Kitchen Accessories to Add to Your Arsenal in 2016

Upgrade your home kitchen with 2016's must-have kitchen accessories   Did you resolve to eat better or cook at home more this year? If so, this is a perfect time to reassess your kitchen accessories and decide what to...

Kitchen accessories
Upgrade your home kitchen with 2016's must-have kitchen accessories

 

Did you resolve to eat better or cook at home more this year? If so, this is a perfect time to reassess your kitchen accessories and decide what to keep, what to upgrade, what to replace, and just what gadgets you need to add to your arsenal to take your home cooking to the next level. Start 2016 off right with the must-have gear every home cook should have.

Replace Worn Cutting Boards, Spoons, Spatulas, and Other Kitchen Accessories

Some kitchen accessories, particularly those made of soft or porous materials like wood or plastic, break down with use. This wear and tear can make them unsightly or less efficient at their jobs, but it can also leave them with nooks and crannies that where harmful bacteria can thrive.

Kitchen accessories
Wooden cutting boards can become scratched, leaving them vulnerable to bacteria

 

Check your wooden or plastic cutting boards for any deep grooves that might be harboring germs. Bacteria flourish in these tiny spaces. The same goes for wooden, plastic, rubber, and silicone utensils, such as spoons and spatulas, which should also be replaced when they begin to show these signs of age.

Nonstick Is Not Forever

Many home cooks love nonstick pans because they are easy to clean and allow you to cook food with little or no oil. But the nonstick coatings that give these pans their magical qualities break down with use. Even if you are diligent about using only wooden or plastic utensils and not heating your nonstick cookware over the recommended 500 degrees, stacking these pans in the cabinet or sink and other mishandling can cause the nonstick coating to scratch, chip, or flake off into your food. Examine your nonstick cookware regularly and replace any that shows scratches, chips, or other wear.

Kitchen accessories
Nonstick pans are great for low-fat cooking and easy cleanup, but they need to be replaced when they show signs of wear.

 

If you're looking to upgrade, the new ceramic-coated pans are a great alternative to traditional nonstick cookware. Ceramic is considered the safest and most environmentally friendly nonstick coating because it doesn't contain potentially toxic chemicals like PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid). Ceramic is also extremely durable and less likely to scratch or flake off.

Essential Tools

Good tongs are one of the most useful - and affordable - gadgets you'll ever buy for your kitchen. They act like an extension of your hand, letting you pick up, hold, turn, flip, and grab hot food with precision. If you don't already own a pair, look for one that locks and unlocks easily with one hand. Tongs with or silicone tips are safe to use with nonstick cookware.

Quality kitchen shears will surprise you with their usefulness. They come in handy for cutting meat, snipping fresh herbs, cutting twine, opening stubborn packages, and even trimming flowers. Look for a pair that comes apart because they are easy to keep clean.

Silicone has been used in the kitchen for more than 30 years, and for good reason. Silicone is durable, doesn't stain, can stand up to extreme temperatures, and provides even heat transfer. Silicone baking sheet liners - thin, pliable sheets that can be used in place of parchment paper - are a great addition to any home kitchen, especially if you like to bake. They ensure that cookies and pastries can be lifted from the pan without breaking or tearing, and they make cleanup a breeze. They also come in handy as a smooth surface for kneading dough and rolling it out.

Take Your Kitchen High Tech

A dedicated kitchen tablet can help you plan meals, keep shopping lists, store your favorite recipes, and quickly calculate measurement conversions. Setting up a kitchen tablet station that suits your particular needs will make you a more efficient cook. Look for kitchen tablet accessories and you'll find practical stands, styluses that help you keep wet or greasy hands away from your screen, stands that let you mount your tablet on the wall or suspend it from a cabinet, waterproof covers to guard against splatter, and plenty of apps that will make cooking easier and more enjoyable.

Once you've tried an immersion blender - a handy hand-held gadget that allows you to puree right in the cooking pot - you'll never go back to pureeing the old-fashioned way. No more precarious ladling of hot liquids and way less splatter. You can use an immersion blender to emulsify salad dressings, thicken sauces, puree veggies, and even whip up homemade mayonnaise if you're into that kind of thing.

If you're into gadgets, an air fryer might be just the thing to help you keep your New Year's resolutions. These nifty little machines let you "deep fry" foods - everything from French fries and chicken wings to tempura and donuts - using tablespoons of oil instead of quarts. They use super-heated air to cook foods quickly and create a crisp exterior, without adding a lot of fat and calories.

Electric pressure cookers have come a long way since your grandmother's old stovetop version rattled its lid. Today's pressure cookers allow you to quickly cook food under high pressure (think cooking dried beans in 15 minutes, a hefty roast in 30, or a rich bone broth in an hour or two), slow cook (buh buy slow cooker!), cook perfect rice (see ya, rice cooker!), oatmeal, and other grains, and even make yogurt. Some are Bluetooth-enabled so you can control them from your phone or tablet. Pretty soon they might even do your grocery shopping for you!

To find all the kitchen accessories you need to start this year off right, browse our selection of kitchenware.