A lot of my favorite plants are species from the genus Allium, specifically onions and garlic. These savory plants are a favorite in many different cuisines, including most of the ones that I cook at home: Cajun, Mexican, Italian and a variety of Asian styles. And then there’s good old American food, where sliced onions are a necessity on a burger, chopped onions are a requirement for hot dogs and brats, and red onion shavings are de rigeur in a fresh green salad.
When you combine our household’s fondness for onions and garlic with our hobby of collecting oddball kitchen gadgets, it probably comes as no surprise that there’s a drawerful of gadgets for preparing ingredients of the Allium persuasion in our kitchen. Let’s have a look:
This Zwilling-Henckels Four-Star Chef’s Knife has a forged eight-inch blade, a full tang, a heavy bolster, and a contoured resin handle. It’s the first knife I reach for when I want to chop an onion, smack a clove of garlic to peel it, or mince garlic cloves.
Although a paring knife seems more like the size you need for cutting onions and even more so for garlic, the paring knife’s short blade is designed for peeling and is overmatched by tasks like chopping and mincing.
Although professional chefs learn to peel garlic by smacking it with the flat blade of a knife, for the rest of us (and I have been known to peel it this way, too) there’s the nifty Zak’s E-Z Roll Garlic Peeler. It might not look like much, but the simple little rubber tube can strip the skin off a clove or two of garlic in seconds, slick as a whistle.
If you need to squeeze the heck (or the juice) out of a clove of garlic, a garlic press should be the next tool on your list. Some of the high-end (and -price) ones boast they can press a clove without the need for peeling it. At the other end are the painted aluminum and even plastic ones.
Get a good quality tool like this Kuhn-Rikon Epicurian Garlic Press: it’s easier to clean and won’t corrode. Plus, you’ll never have to worry about enamel chipping off.
Leftover onion halves have a tendency to stink up the fridge and other food in it. As much as I like the taste of onions, even I’ll admit that it doesn’t belong in vanilla yogurt or melon salad. Plastic wrap and bags never seems to work, but a Hutzler Onion Keeper definitely does the trick.
The Onion Keeper looks just like a real onion, either red or yellow, but the plastic bulb splits in half to hold leftover chunks of onion. The keeper seals securely, keeping onion gases inside and preventing premature rot. Hutzler also has garlic, tomato, and bell pepper versions, all so lifelike you might someday find tooth marks in them.
Old wives’ tales tell you to cut an onion under water or hold bread in your mouth while slicing; modern science seems to suggest that wearing contact lenses prevents tearing up while chopping. I don’t do either: if I have lots of onions to chop, I reach for my pair of RSVP Onion Goggles: the foam seal and the polycarbonate lenses keep the irritating vapors away from my tear ducts.
Sorry to say, though, that the goggles won’t fit over glasses. Maybe ski goggles will do the trick, though.