Great Simple Hand Tools

Have you ever noticed that there is a whole industry devoted to making cooking “easier”?  There are more gadgets than you can shake a stick at, and many of them seem to be designed so that you never have to actually touch the food you’re cooking!

Why Use Hand Tools?

I’ve been drawn to old kitchen tools since I was a kid.  I love all those old manual tools from the 1950s and earlier, like this eggbeater.  My grandmother and Mom made some pretty awesome food using nothing more complicated than an eggbeater.

vintage egg beater

Or how about a potato masher like this, which I still use:

vintage potato masher

In Karachi,  because of the difference in voltage, electric kitchen gadgets from the US simply wouldn’t work.  Plus my kitchen, while lovely, was tiny and storage space was at a premium.  So hand tools were the order of the day.

My Favorite Hand Tools

Good, well-made hand tools often work just about as quickly as motorized tools, and can almost always be tossed in the dishwasher.  Plus, they take hardly any space at all – which in most older kitchens and small apartments is always good.

Here are a few of my very favorite tools:

Ginger Grater – scrape the brown skin off the ginger with a spoon first and use this grater to get really nice grated ginger.

ginger grater

Lemon Zester – makes really nice citrus zest and catches it in the little egg bottom.  It’s also a super quick way to grate garlic and ginger, though it is a bit of a pain to get the ginger threads out afterwards.


Garlic Press – this takes a lot of the work out of mincing garlic and is sturdy enough to power through a lot of it  – even when it’s frozen.  The one I have is pretty old, but very similar to this one. (It’s actually my second garlic press.  Kumy’s mom saw me using the first one and liked it so much I gave it to her.  For all I know, her cook is still using it in Karachi!)

garlic press

Wooden Lemon Reamer – this simple wooden tool makes it so easy to juice a lemon, lime or orange.


Wooden Spoons – I really like cooking with them and use them constantly.  There is something organic about it that just feels right to me.

So, whenever we travel, I pick up a wooden spoon as my “souvenir.”  It’s surprising what  variety in sizes and shapes there are in such a humble, handmade object.

Let other people collect jewelry, art or t-shirts on their travels – point me towards the wooden spoons!

I keep them in a crock by my stove where they’re always handy.  (My son Samir is an amazing potter and made this gorgeous  crock for me in high school.  Thanks, Sammy!)

wooden spoons in Samirs pottery crock