The Old Fashioned Kitchen Gadget Ina Garten Always Has On Hand

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When it comes to kitchen tools and gadgets, we all have our favorites. Some may claim they can't live without their food processor while others swear by their air fryers. Ina Garten has several favorite kitchen tools, which she shared on the New York Times Cooking YouTube page. But as for the tool she, "just adores," it's her food mill. Food mills have been around since the 1920s and were essentially the predecessors to electric food processors and blenders, designed to crush, mash, and puree foods. You simply place your cooked foods like tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, or fruits into the bowl and rotate the handle, which pushes the food down towards an angled, perforated disk that the food passes through.

One of the reasons Garten loves her food mill is because of the texture it gives the dishes she prepares with it. Among the recipes she uses her food mill for are roasted tomato basil soup, sour cream mashed potatoes, 16 bean pasta e fagioli soup, butternut squash and apple soup, and cream of fresh tomato soup. When discussing her favorite kitchen tools, Garten talks about her straightforward approach; she doesn't use fancy equipment, but rather items that most anyone would have in their homes — although she admits a food mill probably in fewer homes than some of her other favored items. Still, they are widely available and the manual models can be affordable.

What you can use in food mills

Food mills haven't really changed drastically since they were invented a century ago. Many now come with a variety of discs, so you can decide how finely you want your food pureed, but overall, they still do the exact same things. Along with mashed potatoes and pureed soups like Ina Garten's, you can use a food mill to crush tomatoes for canning, mash fruit for jams and marmalades, make sauces like applesauce and tomato sauce, create salsas, make your own baby food, and crush fruit into purees to make popsicles and ice creams.

One of the most convenient things about working with a food mill is that there is no need to peel your fruits and vegetables when you use it, as the device catches and separates the skins and seeds. Once a batch of food has been pureed, all that remains in the bowl should be those elements you don't want, which can be quickly tossed away. Some other unconventional ideas for using a food mill are juicing fruits in a pinch (make sure your citrus is totally peeled first), creating very smooth guacamole, and crushing things like cookies for pie crusts or crackers for breading for fried foods.

More of Ina Garten's favorite things

While she may have homes in the Hamptons and Paris, Ina Garten is far from pretentious when it comes to cooking, and her favored kitchen tools and items reflect that. Per the NYT Cooking video, she discusses several other personal favorites along with her trusty food mill. They include room-temp ingredients (room temperature eggs are great for baking, but she also keeps citrus fruits and garlic), a jar full of spoons for tasting her recipes, butcher blocks to use as cutting boards and charcuterie platters, a variety of salts, old-school manual kitchen timers (nope, she doesn't use the one on her iPhone), oven thermometers, an inexpensive kitchen scale, parchment paper, an ice cream scoop, and a 35-year old jar of homemade vanilla extract.

Bordering on fanciness might be her plastic wrap n' snap, which actually isn't terribly expensive at all but is a huge convenience for Garten. This device holds a roll of plastic wrap; after you pull out the size that you need, you simply push down on the top, which perfectly cuts the sheet, taking away the frustration of tearing it off of the traditional blade and having the plastic stick to itself or anything else that's closeby.

It's refreshing to know that Garten doesn't rely heavily on prominent modern technology that can be pricey at best — and instead takes a somewhat old-fashioned approach to her kitchen gadgets. Perhaps this is the trick to her unforgettable recipes.