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9 Essential Kitchen Gifts to Give This Holiday Season

The Holiday season is here and with it comes the annual question of what to buy as well as who to buy it for. Have a chef in the family? Or maybe some newlyweds outfitting their kitchen? Or that friend that just loves to have the best gadget for everything? Never fear! We’ve gathered a list of some kitchen essentials we simply can’t live without! These kitchen essentials can make a great difference when it comes to preparing some of your favorite Demand Africa recipes! What’s better than Holiday treats and new gadgets to make them? Here are Demand Africa’s picks for 9 Essential Kitchen Tools to make your Holiday Kitchen Gift Shopping (or holiday cooking) a bit easier!

Mortar & Pestle

African cooking uses many ingredients that need to be ground up. From corn and dried grains, to countless spices that all blend together to aromatic dishes, it’s important to be able to get these ingredients to the consistency & texture they need to be. That’s why a Mortar & Pestle is one of the MUST HAVE kitchen tools for any African chef. Several cuisines benefit from the multi-purpose grinding tools, as well & depending on where you’re from, a standard mortar & pestle can look several ways & be made of anything from stone & clay to softer woods. Traditional African mortar & pestle sets are either wood or occasionally formed from heavy stone.

Meat Tenderizer

Many forego the opportunity to properly tenderize meats before cooking but if you’re not you’re missing out on all the flavor and juiciness that can come from properly tenderizing. If you’re looking for the next step up from the traditional mallet there are several great options, but these days Amazon stocks several kinds of tenderizers that don’t require you to hammer on top of your kitchen counters with giant spikes.

Coconut Meat Remover

In Tanzania, the Mbuzi Yanazi was a large coconut grater imported from India & was very popular in African coastal countries. Many dishes made in traditional coastal towns require coconut meat, so the large-bladed grater makes things much easier! You don’t need to outfit your kitchen with a coconut grater large enough for a seat for the cook, however. These days, you can get a Coconut meat remover knife and have delicious coconut meat for cooking or use it along with the next tool below to create delicious homemade coconut milk!

Strainer/Sieve

There are countless ways to use a fine mesh strainer (or sieve) in both African cooking & to make lots of Holiday treats & healthy snacks! After you’ve used your coconut meat remover in #3, you can strain through the fine mesh to create your own coconut milk for recipes, smoothies or as a refreshing healthy beverage!

Additionally, dishes that call for lentils and beans can make use of a sieve to strain many types of beans after soaking them overnight. With the multitude of uses, it may be advantageous to have more than one!

Garlic Press

One of the most time consuming activities in any dinner prep is painstakingly peeling & mincing garlic. While many pre-minced versions are sold in stores today, nothing tastes better than fresh garlic. If you haven’t invested in a good garlic press, now is the time! You’ll always wonder how you ever cooked without one.

Tagine

The Tagine is likely the most common African kitchen item export. Hailing from Northern Africa, the Tagine is used to make delicious stews, traditionally over an open flame. The dome shaped top portion of the Tagine is used to trap moisture from the ingredients & redistribute it to the bottom of the dish. Made from pottery typically with beautiful decorations adorning the top dome, Tagines can be a great gift for the advanced chef interested in exploring new cooking techniques, the pottery collector or your friend that can never get enough of African cuisine. There are countless beautiful designs to choose from with varying price points as well.

Knife Sharpener

If you fancy yourself an at-home chef with plenty to dice, slice, chop, shred, julienne & mince, no doubt you’ve invested in at least a decent set of knives if you’re regularly in the kitchen. But make sure you protect & maximize your investment with a great knife sharpener or a honing steel. A honing steel actually doesn’t sharpen the knife like a traditional sharpening stone, but actually realigns or ‘hones’ the knife so that the bevel, or pointed edge is all aligned to a sharp point. The bevel can be bent out of alignment during normal use. If you want to keep your knives in the best condition you should use the honing steel right before each use.

Kitchen Shears

Whether to finely chop herbs, or used as chicken shears, a good pair of heavy duty kitchen shears are a great addition to a quality knife set. While you can use your high quality knives for tasks like chopping herbs, many chefs have utilized shears in place of some cutting board chopping for many tasks, adding efficiency & convenience. The ease of use & simple cleanup can save you some time on those busy weeknights!

Thermometer

If you’re one to bake, a good oven thermometer can work wonders. Everyone has a story of unevenly cakes or burnt-bottom cookies! The worst! So many ovens heat at different temperatures than what they read & a simple hanging oven timer can give much more exact readings to perfect your baking times & give you perfect breads, cakes & cookies every time! A hanging oven thermometer is a simple but necessary addition to a great baker’s kitchen. Or maybe you’re a meat-lover? A meat thermometer can make sure you have perfectly cooked steaks just to your liking every time! Or, they can help make sure you don’t under-cook poultry & pork!

So, now you’ve got some great ideas for your own kitchen & perhaps some great and helpful gift ideas for friends & family alike!