Top three kitchen maintenance must-haves.

Top three kitchen maintenance must-haves.

Just three things?  Yep.

You do not have to be a brand fan in the kitchen to reach the pinnacle of functional kitchen tools.  Some of my most durable kitchen instruments were thrift store finds that I compare to their similar best-in-class items, and here’s why; I maintain what I’ve got with three items below.

Rescued thrift store knife, dollar store cutting board.

1. A diamond-dust knife sharpening steel.  This is not the straightening steel with narrow grooves that came with the 14-piece butcher block given as a wedding gift in 1975.  Used once a week, (or more) a diamond-dust sharpening steel creates a half-straightening half-sharpening life for knives in between professional sharpenings.  This steel turned a Goodwill fiddycent find into my loving compadre’s favorite knife in the kitchen, and one which I will stand up to my favorite Global 5-inch vegetable knife. I use a Wusthof sharpener, but I found this Henckel’s on Amazon for $45.

The math: $.50 knife + $45 steel = $45.50 for a $75 knife + maintenance for all your other knives.

2. Oil for your cutting board.  Pick up a $7 bottle of food-safe mineral oil for your cutting boards and ritually, lovingly, massage them once a month. You need to do this not only with your treasured Boos block but with every board you wash with soap and water and let dry. Oiling keeps your boards hydrated, which keeps them straight which in turn keeps them from warping and cracking. Our “picnic” board is a $5 Dollar Store find, and in ten years and it has not failed.

 
The math: $7 oil + $5 board = $12 for a $30 board + maintenance for all your other boards.

3.  A salad spinner.  This falls under the food and packaging waste management category. I use the OXO variety, found here.  I rinse and spin all my greens and leave them in the spinner on a shelf in the refrigerator, where covered with a paper towel they will last for about a week. Storing them there keeps them out of the crisper, which is where all the too-cold-for-tender-leafies air sinks. Fresher veggies means less food waste, and buying actual heads of lettuce instead of wasteful clamshells of expensive pre-washed lettuce speaks for itself.

The math: 
$28 spinner + $2 x 20 heads of lettuce = $68 + a little time handling greens
No spinner + $3.50 x 20 clamshells of lettuce = $70 – love for the environment