One of the easiest ways to get yourself into healthier eating habits is to buy more fresh produce — you’ll maximize your nutritional content, you’ll save money if you’re buying in-season fruits and vegetables, and you’re more likely to get more creative in the kitchen and try new things. One of the hesitations I hear from people with swapping out processed or packaged produce for fresh is the amount of prep time and tools needed to get your produce ready to cook (and eat). But trust me, there’s a time-saving tool for almost every job! Here are the ten that are in constant rotation in my kitchen from now through summer.
Kale is still the super(food)hero of the market, but getting all of the good leafy greens off of the stem can be a hassle. This brand-new tool makes it super easy – with multiple-sized holes for small and large stems, plus it doubles as an herb stripper. One quick swipe and your kale, chard, collards, or mustard greens are prepped in no time.
Often when you’re purchasing fresh-from-the-farm produce, you still have some of the fresh-from-the-farm dirt hanging around. Rinsing your greens and spinning them ensures that they are clean AND dry so your salad dressing can actually coat the greens and you’re not adding unnecessary water to your dish.
Whenever anyone asks me what tool or gadget they MUST have for the kitchen, this is always my answer. Cooking and baking with fresh lemon and lime juice tastes SO much better than bottled juice and this juicer’s gear mechanism ensures you get every last drop out of your citrus. You’ll be amazed how much juice you can get out of half a lemon versus just squeezing with your hand or even using a reamer – plus it catches all the seeds.
This one is plural for a reason – I have about 6 of these little workhorses in my kitchen at home. Loved for years in commercial kitchens because of their razor sharp blades, they are perfect for peeling everything from butternut squash to potatoes to carrots. You don’t want to start any produce prep without a couple of these in your gadget drawer.
All of this prep work has to happen somewhere – and this is my favorite work surface. It’s lightweight and thin, so it stores easily, it’s made from natural materials, and it’s dishwasher safe so it cleans up quickly. The best part is the nonslip corners, so it doesn’t move around when you’re powering through a whole bunch of parsley or onions.
Some people aren’t big fans of single-use gadgets, but I have five favorites because there really isn’t another way to do the job without them! This cherry pitter is super easy to use, it’s kind of fun to shoot the pits out, and it keeps the cherry intact. It’s small enough to store in your drawer for the few months a year that cherries are in season and it can also be used for olives, so it’s not completely single use!
I have a lot of tools and gadgets come through my kitchen for testing and the ones that stay are always the best tool for the job. This one is super cute and it does the best job of removing only the part of the strawberry you want to remove – so you get more berry for your buck!
Making guacamole from scratch is so much tastier (and healthier) than store-bought versions. This avocado tool does it all — the serrated fin is sharp enough to cut through the skin but won’t cut your hand when you’re digging for it in your drawer; it has the safest pit removal function I’ve seen (versus stabbing it with a chef’s knife and trying to remove it from the blade); and then the slicer makes it easy to remove the flesh.
One of my favorite fresh salsas to top grilled chicken or fish (or sometimes just to eat with tortilla chips) is mango and avocado, but cutting into a mango with just a knife is dangerous (especially if it’s small!) and you end up wasting a ton of the good stuff! The OXO mango splitter very easily cuts out the pit and you get the most out of your fruit quickly and safely.
If you’ve never seen this item in action, you HAVE to watch the video! This really is the BEST tool for the job. If you’ve ever been at the store and contemplated buying pre-cut pineapple versus a whole one, you end up paying 5x the per-pound amount for pre-cut – and you don’t need to! This tool quickly and easily gets all of the pineapple flesh out of a whole fruit for easy chopping, and the ratcheting handle makes it more comfortable to use.
So that’s it for my spring toolbox. What tools do you pull out for this time of year? Or is there a job you wish someone would make a tool for? Let us know!