In selecting kitchen utensils, one should exercise great care to choose only those which are best adapted to her wants, - those which a good housekeeper really needs. Closets filled with utensils which are of no great value are not an aid to order, neatness, nor expedition in cooking.
Old iron utensils are superior to new ones, because long use has made them very smooth. In buying iron utensils, be careful to know that they are of the best quality and well finished. Iron utensils of poor quality cause much annoyance. Before being used, they should be washed and wiped perfectly dry; then the inside should be rubbed with some kind of unsalted fat, as lard. Let the utensils stand several hours, and then wash again, put over the fire where they will heat gradually, wash again with soapy water, rinse thoroughly in hot water, and wipe perfectly dry.
Many kitchen utensils can be had in ironware lined with porcelain. These have many merits, - they are not acted upon by acids, they are thick, and consequentlv the degree of heat required for their contents is easily controlled, and, if carefully handled, they are durable. If allowed to become dry, the enamel is liable to crackle and subsequently chip off, and they are heavy to handle, but are easily cleaned.
There are tin vessels with asbestos interlinings. These are good for heating milk and all things which require care to prevent burning, and which do not act on tin.
Granite ware is not acted upon by acids, is easily kept clean, and is light to handle, but, like porcelain, will chip off if burned or allowed to fall. In buying iron utensils, porcelain-lined or granite ware, see that they are smooth and free from blemish, as any defect will soon prove the ruin of the whole in granite and porcelain-lined vessels, and is a constant source of annoyance in iron ones.
Copper vessels retain heat well, but are expensive and difficult to keep in order. They may be kept bright by rubbing with a solution of salt and vinegar, and washing in soapsuds and wiping dry. They should never be used unless perfectly bright, because the food is liable to be poisoned by the dark coating.
Aluminum cooking vessels are light and durable, but are very expensive, and, with some kinds of water, tarnish readily and are difficult to clean.
Strainers, Puree Sieve and Potato Ricer
In buying tin vessels, select those which are smooth and heavy, and not too brilliant. The retinned is more expensive, but usually more satisfactory, as the cheap ware has very little durability. The surface of cheap tin is easily injured by heat. Tinware is best washed in soapsuds, rinsed, and wiped dry. Some object to the use of soap in dish washing, fearing that the soap may not be clean. It is better to use home-made soap for dish washing, and, knowing that it is clean, use it freely. Granite ware and porcelain-lined vessels should be washed in soapsuds, if greasy, and then rinsed in clear water, if desired, and wiped dry. A wire dishcloth should be used with pots and kettles when necessary.
A soup digester, while not an absolute necessity, is a good thing to have if one can afford it. It must be sufficiently tight to prevent the steam escaping, else it is no better than an ordinary kettle.
Kitchen Knives, Etc
A soapstone griddle is expensive, and some think cakes baked on it are less tender than those baked on an iron griddle. The soapstone griddle needs no greasing, consequently there is less smoke from it than from the others when cakes are cooking. Of iron griddles there are several kinds. The common cast-iron griddle has very little polish, and is inexpensive, but not very satisfactory.
There is a thick, heavy griddle having a surface like polished steel. This is good, but expensive. There is a griddle of iron which is smooth and durable, also inexpensive. This is called "never break" ware.
If the grease burns on the griddle, scour and rub with salt to remove it, then wash clean, and wipe dry.
Cast-iron roll and gem pans are very heavy, and it takes some use to make them smooth. They give a good crust to things baked in them, but are inconvenient on account of their weight. Russia iron gem pans are light, easily cleaned, and bake well, but these are not always made so that thin batters will not exude from them. Tin pans, especially when new, do not usually give so nice a crust as either of the others. When used a while, tin bakes better, but it is never quite so satisfactory for this purpose as some other materials. Granite ware is good if used with care, but does not give a good crust very readiiy-
A common cast-iron spider with a short handle is very useful in the kitchen. This should have a close-fitting cover. It will be found best for sauteing meats, and can be set in the oven when necessary. The spider should be oared for in the same way as other iron utensils.