Holiday Giving: Kitchen Tools for Canners

November 27, 2012

In my years of canning, one of the things I’ve found is that most of my favorite canning tools weren’t made specifically for canning. They are simply kitchen utensils that are well made, sturdy and just happen to serve a useful role in my preserving practice. From the bottom left corner and moving clockwise, here are some of my current favorites.

  • This six-piece set of stacking measuring cups by RSVP is fantastic. They are made from solid stainless steel and have a nice heft in the hand. I use the one-cup measure to portion jam into half-pint jars and the half-cup one fits neatly into my larger storage jars.
  • I’ve long been a fan of a serrated edge peeler. It’s particularly handy during marmalade season because it allows you peel off the outer zest from citrus without taking any of the pith along with you. What makes this particular peeler so nice is that it had dual blades, one smooth and one serrated. Makes for less clutter in a crowded utensil drawer. The one pictured above is from Williams-Sonoma. Kuhn Rikon also makes a version.
  • Thermapen is simply the best instant read thermometers out there. I’ve bought two in recent years and just love them for minding the temperature of my jams, jellies and curds. They’re pricy, but worth the money (and make sure to check the end of this post for a Thermapen giveaway!).
  • I first found this potato masher at a Tuesday Morning and it has supplanted all my other mashers. What makes it so awesome is that the tines are bladed. They’re not sharp, but they have just enough edge to make it perfect for breaking down cooking fruit. It’s a fantastic tool.
  • A good, fully encased silicone spatula. The one pictured above is from GIR and is quite nice. However, it also costs $22.50, which is more than most people want to spend on a spatula (disclosure! this one was sent to me for review purposes). For a more sensibly priced version (under six bucks), check out this one from Orka. According to Amazon, I bought mine in 2009 and it’s still going strong.
  • A good paring knife. I like the ones made by Kuhn Rikon, but couldn’t find one in the kitchen when preparing to take this picture. The most important thing is that it feels good in the hand and holds an edge.

  • If you’ve been reading this site for any length of time, you’ll know that I am crazy for my 4th burner pot. Also made by Kuhn Rikon (they don’t know I exist, I just like their products), this skinny pot has a spout, a heat-proof handle and is fitted with a rack. This means that it works as a small batch canning pot, a pot for heating pickling liquids and syrups for canning whole fruit and even as a tea kettle in a pinch. On Thanksgiving, I used it to heat up the gravy. It is a genius piece of equipment and I love it so much that I own two.
  • I bought this Cuisinart stainless steel wok at Macy’s last summer on a whim. It was on sale and I had a feeling that it might be a handy size and shape for making small batches of jam. And I was right. The flared sides encourage evaporation and it holds a bit more jam than a 12-inch skillet. It’s lighter than ideal for a true wok, but is quite nice for jams, jellies and chutneys (and it just costs right around $30, which makes it highly affordable).
  • Finally, flour sack towels. I finally got smart and started buying them in colors instead of in white. No matter how much I bleached them, the white ones just never get clean. The deeply colored ones don’t show the stains as much. Amazing the difference these little choices make in my quality of life.

As promised, I have an orange Thermapen to give away to one of you nice folks. Here’s how to throw your hat in the ring for chance at it.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me about your current favorite kitchen tool.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm on Friday, November 30, 2012. Winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog over the weekend.
  3. Giveaway open to everyone (the shipping is on me, no matter where you live).
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post. I do not accept submissions via email.
Disclosure: Thermapen is providing the thermometer for this giveaway. GIR sent me one of their spatulas for review. Neither company paid to be included in this post. No one else mentioned here knows that I exist or that I’m writing about them.

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670 thoughts on "Holiday Giving: Kitchen Tools for Canners"

  • I managed to find a Bosch setup at a garage sale years ago, and as it is what I grew up with, I love it and all its various attachments.

    I am also quite attached to my Microplane.

  • It’s got to be my cast iron skillets. I have a full set and am saving up for the dutch over and wok.
    Thank you for all your lovely giveaway offers.

  • I love kitchen equipment but if we got divorced I’d fight for my battered Chinese cleaver. I use it for anything that needs cutting, chopping or slicing.

  • Right now I am digging this machine desiged to core and peel an apple.if you modify the setting it will also peel a potatoe by just cranking a handle! Super easy!

  • I have an Endurance pastry blender / potato masher. Similar to the potato masher in your pic. Perfect for breaking up pieces of fruit that are just a tad to big still without turning them to mush!

  • I absolutely love my kitchen shears, which were a wonderful gift. I can break down a cauliflower in no time, cut up chicken right into the pan or even cut frozen bacon without damaging a good knife. They are a treasure!

  • This will sound completely lame, but my favorite kitchen tool is the canning lid lifter that I recently discovered at Williams-Sonoma. HA! I’ve been using tongs to get the lids out of the water all this time. The magnetic lifter makes so much more sense and is one of the most clever inventions ever. Seriously! It’s the little things, I guess?!?! I’d love to win. Thanks for the opportunity.

  • My favorite kitchen tool is something introduced to me by my Swedish in-laws – a potato stick! It comes with a little stand, so it always sits next to the stove, to use to test doneness on any number of things being cooked!

  • My favorite kitchen tool is my dough wisk from King Arthur flour. It makes mixing all my bready stuff easy and the dough comes off of it!

  • This might count as a small appliance, but I love my little mini food processor. I use it to grind nuts, puree foods for the youngest, and mix up a quick batch of pesto.

  • I use my silicone spatula / scraper so much that it’s really a wonder that I don’t own more of them. I am also very partial to my bench scraper.

  • My big, wide, and deep sauce pan. Love it for canning. I also love my magnetic lid wand. I don’t know what I did before I got that.

  • My Microplane zester. No struggling with a knife, trying to avoid zesting the bitter citrus pith — just easy zesting to add lots of flavor with not a lot of effort. It also grates parm cheese beautifully!

  • I love my mini whisk from pampered chef – I use it all the time for mixing up gravies, sauces, etc. Also my silicone coated tongs – so handy!

  • My favorite kitchen tool by frequency of use is probably one of my nice sharp paring knives! The KA stand mixer and food processor are pretty handy too!

  • Years ago, I bought a conical strainer from a local market (made by RSVP – had to look it up). I’ve used it for so many things! Jellies, powdered sugar shaker, flour sifter – most recently I’ve been using it to strain ginger out of ginger milk tea. It has proven itself to be super handy. I’ve also been extremely happy that I picked up the conical shape – that means I can set it over a jar’s narrow opening, rest the handle on the edge of my sink, allow the contents to drain, and move on with my day.

  • Cast-iron skillets are handy for tenderizing meat, cracking nuts, and threatening salesmen. And to cook in, of course. 🙂

  • I have a Mario Batelli enamel over cast pot that I absolutely love, I use it at least 5 times a week, there is nothing it won’t do!!

  • I inherited most of my canning equipment from my grandmother – she kept her screw bands in an old metal potato chip can, and I love getting it down and seeing it on the table as we can. She’s with us in the kitchen for sure! A newer item I love is my stainless steel Foley Food Mill – we make lots of fruit leathers, and the children love turning the crank!

  • Oh, I DO like that Kuhn-Rikon fourth burner pot. Bought it on Amazon after you told us about it. I think it’s my fave. But possibly the small instant-read thermometer could become my first choice.

  • My favorite kitchen tool, by far, is my Wusthof Santoku knife. It was a Christmas gift from my husband ten years ago, and it is still my go-to knife for nearly everything.

  • right now it’s my lime green enameled cast iron pot. for the longest time i kept forgetting that i had it (it was hidden on a top shelf) but now i’m in a habit of using it for almost everything. bring on the soup!

  • I’d say that currently, my favorite tool is an orange silicone spoonula/spatula (similar to the one in the post) that I got at Marshall’s earlier his year. It is perfect for using to make jams and candies. Nothing sticks to it!

  • Santoku knife – perfect heft, size, and great cutting-ability. Also love my Le Creuset dutch oven which gets heavy use during these colder months.

  • Definitely my 2c pyrex measuring cup. I use it for measuring all the liquid ingredients at once (1/2 c water + 1/3 c oil + … ) when I have to mix dry and wet ingredients separately before combining. I also use it for other things, like microwaving a single serving of ramen or frozen ravioli in water (don’t judge – I’m a grad student and pull 14 hour days on campus regularly!). The handle makes it easy to maneuver with a potholder, drain, and then pour into something easier to eat out of.

  • My grandmother’s 9 inct cash iron skillet is used daily. But so are my Furi knives my stepchildren got me for Christmas five years ago. I cannot imagine pulling off dinner without either item . . .it’s a tie!

  • I LOVE my canning jars! I use them to can, sure, but I also use them to store leftovers, dry goods, even drink from. Love them and use them everyday. Thanks for the awesome giveaway, by the way.

  • I have so many favourites! My Henkel Miyabi knife (soooo worth the money), my well seasoned cast iron pans that used to belong to my Dad, my Kitchenaid, which I lived without forever, and now don’t know how I did!

  • One of my favorite kitchen items is a small whisk. I use it from breakfast to supper! I have four large whisks, but the small one does a better job most of the time.

  • Weirdly, it’s the white plastic screw on tops for canning jars. I’m so clumsy, and this way I know that there’s little chance of spillage in the fridge when I accidentally tip one of the opened jars over. I also seem to be more inclined to use up my canned treats by using these. I don’t know either, but they make me super happy.

  • as of right now, top of the list is the grain-mill attachment for the Kitchen Aid mixer that was found at a local garage-sale this summer for $10 complete with original manual in original box. Working my way thru’ 70# of flint corn and making awesome Polenta cornmeal……..

  • My current favorite kitchen tool is a long wooden spoon that has become the perfect shape (somehow!) for all my pots over the years. Unfortunately, it’s begun to crack, so I’m enjoying it while it still works! I’ve seen those thermapens on cooking shows before and they look quite spiffy…would love to try one out!

  • My favorite kitchen tool would have to be a toss up between my kitchen aid mixer and my food processor. I have a large family and they both save me so much time.

  • I love my 3/4 cup measuring cup. For some odd reason I seems to have a lot of recipes that require 3/4 cup of ingredients and it was very annoying to have to measure out 1/4 cup 3 times, so I hunted down a measuring cup set that had a 3/4 cup. Unfortunately they are plastic and some of the handles have started to crack and break so I’m hoping to find a metal set next.

  • My favorite tool right now is probably my silicon spatula which I use with almost everything I cook on the stovetop – it won’t melt!

  • My current favorite kitchen item is wax paper! I’m baking so many gifts and I love how my pound cakes look all wrapped up with wax paper and twine!

  • Thank you for sharing your favorites!

    I walked into my kitchen and looked around, trying to decide which tool was my favorite and it was hard to narrow it down to just one. Right now, I’m going to chose my Pampered Chef skinny spatula. I use it all the time for a number of things and refuse to put it in the dishwasher because I had one fall out of the cutlery basket, landing on the heating element and melt. I hated spending the $13 or $16 to replace it but it is my ‘favorite’! LOL So, I replaced it and I am very careful with it. Sounds so silly….it is ‘just a spatula’ after all. 😉

  • My favorite “tool” is my 14 cup food processor. That thing is so nice and sharp and shreds anything I need in no time. When I compare it to my old 7 cup processor, I can see how dull the blades on the 7 cup have gotten.

  • My favorite tool? I can’t narrow it down, so here are three: Oxo and Le Creuset whisks, both brands are durable, dishwasher-safe and are beautifully designed. And microplanes — excellent graters for citrus, cheese, chocolate and more. By the way, I enjoy your blog. I just made the pear jam with cardamom and brown sugar. Delicious!

  • My current (or soon to be current anyway) is the immersion blender my husband is getting me for Christmas. No more lumpy anything!

  • It’s embarrassing to admit this, but you just blew my mind with those colored flour sack towels. I really, really love flour sack towels, but I’ve stopped buying them because they just end up so dingy. Ahem. Well, they do say you learn something new every day… 🙂

    Anyway, I would say that my favorite kitchen tool(s) are my knives. I got my first real set in preparation for culinary school, and while they aren’t a fancy brand at all, they hold their edge well and fit into my hand like they were made for me. It’s just that we have so much history together now. I know I should buy better knives at some point, but these babies are like the perfect pair of shoes– I’ve broken them in (they’ve broken me in) and now they’re perfect.

  • my favorite tool in the kitchen is my whisk and spatula. I use them for so many things . I bake for my 9/12 group and I have 9 kids all married and 23 grand kids and 24 great grand kids so do alot of baking , cooking , canning , sewing , and crocheting.

  • My favourite tool is my thermometer, hands down! After a few slightly off batches of caramels though, I’m starting to suspect it’s a little off.

  • My mandolin is by far my favorite kitchen tool. My knife skills aren’t good enough to get the consistency (or the speed) of my slicey little friend.

  • my very fave tool is my wood lemon and lime reamer. The wooden ones are the only way to go. They get every last drop of juice – so more bang for your buck. Anyone that does not have one of these my message to you is YOU HAVE TO GET ONE !

  • My favorite kitchen tool was an immersion blender (until it broke last week). Soups, purees, sauces, and even jams were a breeze to blend and I am always a fan of anything that keeps me from having to use multiple cooking vessels! I think I just realized what I need for Christmas…

  • I love my handheld flat strainer. I hold it against the pot or pan and strain the liquid in sink or cup if I’m saving. I have 2 cause 1 is always dirty!

  • My favorite tool, based on constant use alone, has got to be a really nice paring knife. After that, my strainer which I probably use every other day. The paring knife gets multiple uses everyday.

  • Lately, it’s been my camera. I’ve been loving capturing my kitchen projects and setting up colorful shots with afternoon sunlight.

  • My favorite kitchen tool is my heat resistance silicone spatula. Not very exciting but I love it and use it as my multi-purpose tool.

  • My favorite kitchen tool is my dough whisk. I bought it thinking that I would use it for one or two things but use it for so many others that I hadn’t even considered. The Thermapen has been on my Amazon wish list for close to five years!

  • I think my favorite kitchen tool is the julienne peeler, but I haven’t used it very often lately– it’s so much fun to use, though. My favorite tool that I use often is my spider.

  • My current favorite kitchen tool is my pressure canner, that I bought used at a garage sale this summer! And.. My BIRTHDAY is tomorow, so this would make an AWESOME birthday present! ; )

  • I would have to say that my favorite kitchen tool would have to be my pasta maker. I am really enjoying the ease in making fresh pasta. It tastes so much better than the boxed stuff I have always eaten.

  • Right now my favourite kitchen item is my chopper from New West Knife Works. It is the only knife in my kitchen right now that can cut anything!

  • My favorite kitchen tool is my new set of stainless steel measuring cups. We used to have plastic, this is so much nicer and looks so classic.

  • My current favorite tool is a messermeister serrated peeler; I just used it to make a double batch of roasted vegtable soup and it worked so well I’m getting another one for my mom.

  • My favorite tool is a rickity 30 year old apple peeler. It was the one my dad used when making apple Pies. I still use it today.

  • Favorite tools is a good ol’ spatula! Nothing beats the sturdiness of a silicone spatula, but I also have some hard plastic ones that are great for scraping, if need be. Can’t do without them!

  • My microplane grater. I love it! I don’t necessarily use it everyday but the ability to quickly grate whole nutmeg has rocked my world!

  • My fav kitchen tool has to be my wooden spoons. They do everything! TY for the great giveaways and for making such an awesome book! 😉

  • I have an immersion blender that’s got to be at least 22+ years old. Use it all the time for creamy vegetable soups. My instant read thermometer died at Thanksgiving. It would be wonderful to have such a nice replacement.

  • I finally started using cast iron pans and I don’t know how I ever lived without them! I also adore my Emile Henry mortar and pestle-it’s beautiful and works great.

  • I’m currently living at my husband’s Grandmother’s house, doing a lot of cooking without any of my favorite tools. I almost instantly went out and bought a bigger cutting board, an LC silicone spatula, a wooden angled-head spatula, and a decent (and sharp!) vegetable knife… but what I REALLY miss? My Le Creuset. Le sigh.

  • That’s an easy one. My silicone spatula from Chef’n is the most used tool in my kitchen. Also the one thing i must guard most fiercely, because my sister covets it badly.

  • A food mill. I always thought it was a useless gadget. but that was before apple season! It is great to make applesauce, mashed potatoes, and lots of other things!

  • My current favorite kitchen tool is a set of IKEA knives with oddly shaped handles (I don’t know if they have this line in the US, I’m in Germany) that make it possible for me to cut things again without my fingers cramping up immediately. I was very doubtful of these knives’ handles when I first picked them up, but I’m very very glad my husband talked me into buying one paring knife to try.

  • Favourite kitchen tool is flour sack cloths. I have them in white, but also in colours and agree, the coloured ones are best for things involving fruit or any sort of jam making. I especially like vivid greens and reds (they always seem to look good). There is always a stack of white flour sack cloths ready, and also bar mops, on the bench ready for use. After use they get washed, napi-sanned, & put on the line out in the (now) hot South Australian sun. Sometimes they get a little splash of bleach too. The old white ones that have gotten really worn, tattered or stained go into a separate basket–they make the best cleaning cloths.