Tools & Equipment (Part Two) – My top kitchen tools and recommended equipment to save time, soothe stress and stop disasters in the kitchen.
Plus my handy relish making checklist.
Apparently a quality craftsman never blames his tools. So I reckon, he’s got to have bloody good ones!
Here is a list of my personal top five tools and equipment that I hope will help soothe any stress, save time and minimise any risk of a disaster in the relish making department (and what I use to make my relishes).
Sarah Side-note // Of course, I cannot guarantee that you won’t create or do something a little disastrous despite all the planning and preparation in the world. Sometimes your relish-making-muse can have ulterior motives. Sometimes making a mistake like burning your relish, melting a plastic spoon or forgetting to add an ingredient (or too much of one) can be just what you need to release anger or tears, and have a darn good laugh at yourself. I’ve done it many, many times and it’s taught me to get myself prepared, not be too serious and stay “in the relish making moment” (I cover this in detail in Making the Relish (Part Four)). //End of Sarah Side-note
Behind the Scenes: My Top Five Relish Making tools
All of the tools and equipment in this image were used in the production of Relish This.
There are a few others but these were the stars of the show (behind the scenes). They saved me lots of time and stress, and were well worth the investment.
Yes, the red saucy apron was a gift from Mr Relish in the very early stages of my business and was constantly used until I had to shift into a commercial kitchen (it required something less risque and more OSH applying).
1. Stainless Steel Pot
Typically referred to as a Stock Pot, these relish makin’ pots are worth their weight in gold!
Cost: Approx AU$90(trade) for standard 12L size
Where From: Commercial kitchen stores (I purchased mine from a small kitchen shop on King St, Newtown, Sydney who offered wholesale trade prices).
Why I Recommend: Quality stainless steel pots like these do not taint the food you’re cooking (or storing), have thick sturdy bottoms which makes it more difficult to burn your batch, and allows for even distribution of heat. They aren’t too heavy (only when they’re chock a block full of relish) and the handles don’t get wobbly or fall off. Ever. They’re bolted on.
They have a rim around the top to catch the drips (they run back into the pot, not down the outside) and sit your wooden spoon or sieve on nicely.
The 12L size pot fits in a standard sized kitchen sink, and under the tap, for ease of cleaning.
Other Uses: I actually have two – I started with the smaller 12L pot and eventually ended up with a larger second one (21L) to cater for bigger batches of relish when the business grew. If I hadn’t continued the expedition of building a relish empire, I would suggest a 21L size is not needed for most households (unless you want to make copious amounts of food).
Now I’m not making relish nearly as much, I still find these pots extremely handy in the kitchen… (Like using them to: make chicken carcass/beef bone stock and hearty soups, boil or soak bulk foods like rice, nuts, lentils and beans, make and mix puppy food, make bulk washing liquid detergent or use for general storage. Plus they look great in the kitchen if you have open storage areas and are the most loyal bucket ever).
I would highly recommend the 12L size (the one on the right in the photo above) as it easily holds enough space for a double sized home made batch of relish (approx 8kg). You do not want to overfill your pot so a deep one with plenty of clearance space at the top is ideal (More details on this in Making the Relish (Part Four)).
2. Sharp knives
You gotta have at least one quality, grunty, reliable sharp knife – or better yet a set of them in the kitchen. I have a set of Wusthof Classic Sous Chef knives that I highly recommend – a 6″ Chef knife, a fine pointed 4.5″ Utility knife and a 3.5″ Paring knife. They are extremely well used (and loved) and I don’t make anything in my kitchen without them.
Cost: from AU$150-$200 (based on 5 Piece Chef Block Set or 3 Piece Chef Knife Set)
Where From: King of Knives, Knife Specialty Stores, Some Kitchen Stores (My set was a 30th birthday present).
Why I Recommend: Sharp knives can be dangerous, but I have found (and many chefs agree with me on this), that blunt, cheap knives create more opportunity for you to cut and hurt yourself than a super sharp one. Blunt knives require unnecessary extra force and can easily slip on fruit/veg skins (instead of cutting thru), which leads to a higher risk for finger-less situations. Not ideal.
I have fairly small hands and weaker wrists so prefer having a range of smaller knives, and a medium-weighted large chef knife.
My favourite (thus most used) is the larger knife you can see in the photo above, which I use to do everything. It’s a little heavier so I use the weight of the knife to help me cut and finely dice ingredients like onions, beetroot, garlic and ginger.
The finer, pointed utility knife is an all rounder; ideal to cut and pierce through skins of capsicums, tomatoes and chops through most ingredients.
Lastly, the small paring knife is a relish makers best friend. It is used to prepare and chop vegetables and fruits, and is perfect for removing the inner membrane from capsicums or outer skins for example.
Other Uses: I spent at least a year making relish in that first year with average, blunt kitchen knives and after receiving these knives my life changed. Time’s been saved. And so have my fingers, I haven’t cut myself once. Like all crafts, finding the best tool for you requires spending time with them until you find what’s right for you. Knives come down to personal preference, just please make sure it’s sharp and take care to always cut away from your body when using them.
3. OXO Good Grips Speedy (7 Second Apple) Peeler
Why I Recommend: Whether you’re peeling spuds, pumpkin, mangoes, beetroot, apples or ginger, this is your peeler! It’s a knife style peeler with sharp blade (mine’s STILL sharp and it’s the same one I’ve made oodles of relish with for five years), the handle is great to hold and it’s easy to maneuver around fruits and veg. It rocks. This guy thinks so too – he’s written a great little review on the product if you want more proof. Life is too short not to upgrade to one of these!
Other Uses: I have a 7 second apple peeling record made with this peeler (Yes I’m a geek. I timed myself while peeling all those apples for my relishes…) Yes 7 seconds. Whole apple. No skin. No brown spots. Done. Tell me if you beat it!
4. Microplane Zester Grater (Ideal for Citrus)
My knuckles have occasionally come off second best to this luxurious piece of equipment, but I still love it.
If you are intending on adding zest to your relish and/or love adding zest to other dishes in the kitchen, you need this fine zesting grater. It’s fantastic. It’s sharp (and stays sharp). It’s really efficient.
Cost: from AU/NZ $34.95. (Online is cheapest, from $22)
Where From: Again, most kitchen stores, department stores and online
Why I Recommend: The Microplane graters come in a range of different sizes – fine, medium, large to handle different ingredients, such as chocolate/spices, cheese, garlic and citrus zests. There are a LOT more on the market now, including the skinny, tall versions which I find more difficult to use. The wider size feels sturdier when using, and has more contact surface area of what you’re grating / zesting.
Plus it comes with a handy protective sliding cover to use when storing.
Do take care with these, they are uber sharp and will remove the tops of your knuckles if you slip or get too close.
Other Uses: I used mine to zest the limes and oranges in my two most popular relish products (beetroot apple n orange and balsamic red onion n lime) and occasionally used it to grate very small amounts of ginger and garlic (Usually when I didn’t cut up enough in the processor).
If, however, you just want an all rounder to use with most “grateable” ingredients don’t buy this fine version, you will need the medium or may not wish to splash out on this luxury item.
5. Wide-Mouth Funnel
And last but not least… Wide mouth funnels. Ahhh probably the most unknown stress-relieving and anti-mess making tool on this list. If you’re a relish maniac and want to make a lot of relish, or have lots of smaller sized jars to fill – these will become you’re best friend.
Cost: Norpro Stainless Steel AU$19.95, Plastic Quattro red version NZ$9.95 (approx)
Where from: Kitchen stores, Department stores (Quattro branded one from Farmers, New Zealand)
Why I Recommend: These will save you so much time fiddling around trying to fill your jars with relish. Before I had these, I used sloppy serving spoons and teaspoons to jar my first few batches which was painful, hot work and s l o w. I purchased the stainless steel one with my large stainless steel pot shortly after, within my first month of business.
The inner funnel circumference of the smaller metal one is slightly larger than the neck of my original 175g jars I used to produce for Relish This so it’s a perfect size for most 240g – 500g sized jars used to make relish at home (however with a certain tilt and angle, the relish will slide straight into a smaller jar with minimal mess).
Since I now primarily only produce larger bulk jars of relish (i.e 500g – 1kg jars) for home, I purchased the deeper, wider red funnel to fill jars more quickly and effectively.
A Few Extras
These might be specific to cooking and preparing a larger volume of relish, however want to share here in case they help you as well:
Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons
These may seem basic and uninteresting but owning a set of stainless steel measuring spoons is very useful. Most people have plastic measuring spoons, and unfortunately when it comes to wheeling and dealing strong spices (vital ingredient in relish), the spoons get tainted with the spices. Ground spices particularly seem to stick and seep into the plastic, which makes them hard to clean and use across different spices. I found it really annoying having to wash and completely dry plastic spoons every time I needed to add a spice. The spice slips straight off and outer the stainless ones!
Kenwood Multi Food Processor (Domestic)
After a few weeks of hand preparing all the ingredients for my relishes, I began to use the Kenwood Multi-Processor (domestic version) I had been given for Christmas a few years before that came with an extra slice plate and a selection of cutters. It was perfect to prepare fruits and vegetables and was what I used to slice the red capsicum, tomato, apple and zucchini for my range of red capsicum relishes. It wasn’t made for the copious amounts I made it chop, but it kept going and kept producing, saving me a lot of time and energy. I’d highly recommend using one or something similar if you want to make a lot of relish.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t grunty enough to handle the tougher job of chopping beetroot or slicing red onions which was required for the next few products I created. So I originally grated all the beetroot by hand and manually sliced every single red onion (yes I cried a lot) for my other relish products.
Robot Coupe Food Processor (Commercial)
If When I sell enough books I’m buying one of these for my home kitchen. They’re amazing.
Used for hot or cold ingredients, you can prepare anything from hot soups to cold dips, make smoothies or finely chop fresh chilli, beetroot or garlic. In a few seconds.
These commercial range of food processors made by Robot Coupe have enough power to run a small truck. The box base you can see in the picture there is h e a v y and all engine. I’m serious. You even have to get them serviced.
This particular model retails for approx. AU$2000.00 (NZ $2600.00) with extra attachment options.
My very good friends in Sydney used to own a cafe and “just happened” to have a second hand one of these lying around getting dusty and lent it to me to help me with my relish business.
It changed my life.
Once you use one of these, you can’t help but think domestic kitchen processors are made for Barbie dolls.
After almost six months of hand grating beetroot and dicing ginger and garlic, I switched to this machine which blitzed huge chunks of beetroot into finely grated pieces within a few seconds (it used to take me hours!).
Still not sure what you need to make relish?
Here’s a quick checklist:
Big stock pot (Preferably stainless steel)
Large chopping board
Peeler (upgrade to a speedy OXO Good Grip!)
Wooden spoon (large one if using a big deep pot)
Measuring spoons & measuring cups
Wide-Mouth Funnel (*optional)
Glass Jars & Lids (see The Jar Collection (Part One))
You’re all set!
Next up, it’s time to pick your recipe and grab your ingredients, which is covered next…
Recipe of Ingredients (Part Three) – Selecting a recipe based on your needs and the seasons. Plus choosing the best ingredients to combat food intolerance’s