The $7 Tool That Every Kitchen Needs
We love high-tech kitchen appliances and gadgets, but our latest kitchen must-have is about as low-tech and basic as can be. You’ll soon swear by it too, whether you’re baking cinnamon rolls, chopping veggies for a pretty bowl meal, or much, much more. We first learned about this humble gadget from a professional chef, who ranked it among his top five most-used kitchen tools, along with his beloved knife, a large cutting board, his apron, and lint-free towels. It’s a bench scraper! At first glance it may look unassuming. Then we used one, and were instantly converted.
A bench scraper (like the one above by Williams Sonoma ($7)) is a little different than a bowl scraper (like the one below from Martha Stewart ($3)), but they can mostly be used interchangeably. A bench scraper is usually a six-inch metal rectangle with a handle. It has a honed but not sharp edge and is quite thin. A bowl scraper is usually made of plastic or silicone, and while it’s also rectangular, it lacks a handle and instead has one curved edge (for scraping bowls clean). They’re perfect stocking stuffers or add-ons to housewarming or bridal shower gifts. Here’s why every kitchen needs one.
Easier Clean-Up and Less Mess
The flat edge of your scraper can clean off your cutting board in a snap, whether you’re moving your ingredients into tidy piles along the perimeter of your board or cleaning up the remnants from dinner. The scraper’s large, flat side allows you to more easily transport ingredients to bowls or pans, without the risk of dropping them like often happens when you try to gather them up in your hands.
Minimize Food Waste
You’ve shredded your Brussels sprouts and scooped them up into your hands before adding them to your pan. You glance at your cutting board and some tiny shreds are left behind. If you ignore them and think “good enough,” we can’t blame you. It’s a pain to pick up every little piece of food. Enter your scraper. Use the flat edge to easily and quickly pick up every last scrap!
No Dough Left Behind
Your scraper can also double as an oversized, easier-to-use spatula, perfect for sticky or thick batters and doughs. The next time you have a tiny bit of chocolate chip cookie dough or brownie batter in the bottom of the bowl, don’t leave it behind. The curved edge of the scraper makes quick work of cleaning out the bowl — and we won’t judge if you decide to save those tasty morsels for the baker to eat instead! (This is the one place you can’t use a bench scraper in place of a bowl scraper.)
Since your scraper is thicker than a spatula, it does a much better job of digging sticky doughs out of the bottom of the bowl too. If you’re working with a thick yeast dough (like for cinnamon rolls), your scraper can be used to cut and divide the dough into more manageable portions. And when it’s time to clean the flour off your work station, simply scrape it up with the flat edge. (In this case, a bench scraper is better, since it has a sharper, thinner edge.)
Keep Your Knives Sharp
Admit it: You’ve used the edge of your knife as a scraper now and again. We have too. This is a major no-no, according to chefs. Not only will it dull your knife faster, but it can also be dangerous. A dull knife is riskier than a sharp one, and if yours is properly sharpened, you wouldn’t want to risk placing your whole palm near the blade. So, if you want to look like a pro, keep your knife sharp, and tidy up in a snap, pick up a bench or bowl scraper.
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