This post lists seasonal kitchen essentials and offers my best shopping guide using my Amazon affiliate links. The seasonal kitchen is all about techniques that let you cook fresh harvests and farmers market hauls for optimal flavor and nutrition. The best shopping guide will help you save money while having the essential tools you need for your seasonal kitchen.
Seasonal Kitchen Essentials | Best Shopping Guide
This list of ten seasonal kitchen essentials is based on the past 20 years of running a household fed by farm shares (CSA) and kitchen garden harvests. The Amazon links reflect my personal choices and recommendations for the essential items that balance cost with longevity. As someone who practices the minimalist lifestyle, I prefer to spend a little more for items if that means they’ll be with me a lifetime.
Whether you are curating essential for your first kitchen or renovating and restocking essential tools and appliances for an existing kitchen, this list will help you make better choices. What you need for your seasonal kitchen are basic items that help you get the work done efficiently, safely, and beautifully.
Let’s get busy finding your must-have kitchen tools for the seasonal kitchen!
1. Seasonal kitchen essential: the chef’s knife.
A good chef’s knife is essential in the seasonal kitchen. Chopping is most definitely the one food preparation technique that you will practice every single day, usually several times a day. From meal preparation to wise food storage, a good chef’s knife will be the one tool that makes the chore a pleasure. I like a knife with some weight and a comfortable handle. I keep the blade of my chef’s knife quite sharp, so I want one that can stand up to the sharpening stone.
As with every item on this list of tools and appliances you need for the seasonal kitchen, we’ll be looking at the best items that balance cost with durability. Those knife block sets may look good at the department store showroom, but probably won’t deliver for years and years the way these chef’s knives are intended.
A word about the knife’s edge profile. The Santoku style knife has a straight edge, where the more common Abzuui style knife has a somewhat curved edge. The straight-edged chef’s knife is better for vegetables, and the curved edge is more all-purpose. I have found that price does not equal quality with a chef’s knife. Click each of the recommended brands/varieties below to read the reviews and choose the best one for outfitting your kitchen.
2. Season kitchen essential: cutting boards
I know there is a rigorous debate about the best cutting board from a sanitary perspective, plastic or wood. I think eliminating plastic is an ongoing battle in the seasonal kitchen, so that makes the argument mute from our perspective. I have found bamboo to be a remarkably resilient cutting board material. I also like to have cutting boards that serve as beautiful serving trays as well as functionally for cutting.
A juice groove along the edge of a cutting board can be a real asset when preparing large quantities of fresh vegetables and fruits. They are my preference when canning. The clean up is hard enough without having a pond of juice on the floor. Sometimes cutting boards will have a handle cut into them near one end. I find this useful for easy storage. Simply hang it on the way near the counter you most commonly used for food preparation.
Here are my suggestions:
3. Seasonal kitchen essential: mixing bowls
Well chosen mixing bowls can be both beautiful and functional. Glass, Pyrex, and ceramic all serve to equip the seasonal kitchen with basic necessities. These bowls can also be used to serve salads, soups, and sides for family meals. A couple sets of nesting mixing bowls are all you need to create seasonal meals and preserve current harvest for future ingredients. There are many choices. Here are my favorites:
4. Seasonal kitchen essential: colanders
I think I have at least 5 colanders in my kitchen. Some are purely functional like the one with arms that can rest over the edge of the kitchen sink. Others are more decorative an I use them for presenting whole fruits and vegetables on my counters and on the table. Colanders are a great find at antique stores and where many of mine came from. Here are four styles of colanders to choose from, each with a different purpose.
5. Seasonal kitchen essential: vegetable peeler
Potatoes, carrots, cucumbers…so many veggies can benefit from some time with a vegetable peeler. A good vegetable peeler can also substitute for a zester, can be used to core fruits, and are the best multipurpose tool to outfit your kitchen. The French are known for their basic vegetable peeler called the Nogent. It is the size and shape of a paring knife with a pointed tip that perfectly functions to remove the eyes of potatoes. Next to my chef’s knife, this is the most used tool in my seasonal kitchen. Here are a few to choose from as you work to equip your kitchen.
6. Seasonal kitchen essential: salad spinner
Salad spinners are used to release excess moisture from both salad greens and cooking greens after washing. This is important for salad greens so that they can hold your dressings without watering them down, or having the dressing slide off into the bottom of your salad bowl. It’s important for your cooking greens so that excess water doesn’t complicate your braising and sauteing. My salad spinner is a 5-gallon size, left over from the days of running our CSA. I’m in the market for a more kitchen-friendly size and have read the OXO Salad Spinner is currently the best one on the market. Most salad spinners are plastic and you should make sure they are food grade plastic that is BPA free.
Here are my Amazon pics:
7. Seasonal kitchen essential: mortar and pestle
Many of the cooks I follow are in love with their mortar and pestle, some even collect them. I have one simple little mortar and pestle that I use mostly to blend herbs and spices, crack peppercorns, and occasionally make pesto by hand. I certainly want to up my game by using this seasonal kitchen essential tool more often, more creatively, and more skillfully. My all-time favorite kitchen goddess, Alice Waters, raves about her Suribachi, a Japanese mortar and pestle where the bol has grooves. She uses it to turn garlic cloves into a paste for many of her dressings.
Mortar and pestle can be pieces of art, or very simple and functional, like mine. Let’s take a tour of a few that can be a centerpiece in our seasonal kitchen tool shed.
8. Seasonal kitchen essential: cast iron
Don’t talk to me about food safety and cast iron care! This, by far and away, is the best cookware to have in a seasonal kitchen! Some of my pans are over 40 years old, gifted to me by my father. Others are even older, good finds while antique hunting. Cast iron is often known as the original non-stick cookware. If well maintained, it holds up to this reputation. Besides holding an even heat, being nonstick and multipurpose, good cast iron is nontoxic. That is very important to me in my seasonal kitchen.
I’m going to make some recommendations and try not to shop while I’m writing! Cast iron cooking is a cultish kind of thing.
9. Seasonal kitchen essential: pressure cooker
I’m late to this whole pressure cooker madness. I honestly don’t know what took me so long! I think I thought it all a fad and I’m not really into appliances. I borrowed a friend’s pressure cooker to give the whole thing a go this summer when I was crazy busy but wanted to eat home cooked meals, not carry-out. I am a complete and total convert. I cook in my pressure cooker at least three times a week these days. I also used my pressure cooker for most of my canning this summer. A real time saver, as well as the perfect way to control temperature while canning.
Honestly, my pressure cooker came from Facebook Marketplace, and I recommend you look there to save some serious cash. As always, buy from a reputable seller and make sure you are safe when meeting the seller for product pick up. That being said, sometimes new is best, and here are my recommendations.
10. Seasonal kitchen essentials: nonplastic food storage containers
The one area in my seasonal kitchen I have the hardest time achieving my goals is in the category of no-plastics and zero-waste. It is tough, tough, tough to get plastic out of the kitchen. Over time I have trained myself to think of my mason jars before reaching for an old Rubbermaid container for food storage. I have a very nice collection of Pyrex covered dishes, some inherited from my mother-in-law (this stuff lasts!). And, I have silicon containers that are shaped like a ziplock bag that I sometimes use but often forget about. Finally, I’m about to step into the world of beeswax sheets to replace plastic wrap thanks to a gift from a CSA member. It’s an evolution rather than a revolution in my kitchen when it comes to plastics.
I recommend at least one of each of these items.
Essentials for the Kitchen and a Shopping Guide
I’ve been on a tear in my kitchen, going cabinet by cabinet and removing every item. Then, I think about how I cook now and the last time I used the item. Finally, I restock the cabinets with only those essential items for my daily cooking needs. I do keep a few tools and appliances that are only used at certain times a year or that hold certain sentimental value. Cooking is easier now that I can find what I need when I need it.
Honestly, I overstock my kitchen with things. It’s an impulsive thing. This cleaning and clearing of the kitchen have helped me minimalize, simplify, and keep to basics. I prefer to purchase kitchen items at antique stores. The craftsmanship of utensils, bowls, and other kitchen essentials created in the 1940-60s is exceptional. I highly recommend this kind of shopping hobby.
Sometimes, new is best or the only option. That is why I created this Amazon shopping guide for your seasonal kitchen essentials. I live in a remote area where shopping options are very limited. Amazon helps me acquire the items I need without a lot of time in the car. I hope you find the recommendations useful.
Finally, I bet the list can be expanded. What are the essential items in your seasonal kitchen that are not on the list? Leave a note in the comments below and I’ll add the item to the list!
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