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Using Hardware Store Tools In The Kitchen


Tony S.
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Forgive me if this question has been asked & answered before. I tried doing a search but scouring through 40 pages of search results was taking too long.

I'm wondering if it's okay to use hardware store tools that aren't necessarily designed for use with food when working in the kitchen. Specifically, I want to get a scraper that's about 8" wide to use on my chocolate molds. Ones available from JB Prince, Chef Rubber or other pastry/confectionery supply companies cost $20-$35. An 8" drywall taping knife from a hardware store would cost less than $10. If the blade is made of stainless steel, cleaned thoroughly and used only for this purpose, is there any reason why I shouldn't use these less expensive tools?

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Yup, have several, and there is no difference.

But don't stop there. I use pieces of PVC pipe for many purposes, notched plastic glue trowels (new ones) for various purposes, etc.

Then again, I've been known to take the sun pinion (toothed gear ring) from a 3 spd bicycle hub, and attach it to a handle to use as a rolling pastry crimper.....

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I was looking at a 8" plaster scraper thing, dont know exact name, to use for chocolates for the same reason. My only concern with the one I saw was that it was aluminum, and seemed like it could bend easily, maybe I'll still give it a shot. Other then that, I went to Home Depot and purchased a 4' aluminum angle piece. I just cut it into 1ft sections, cleaned up the edges so they are not sharp, and polished the outside of the angle with a compound, and presto, I had a confectionery frame for $10.

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After I peel and cut a pear in half and remove the core with a melon baller, I use a small potters loop tool (from a ceramic supply store) to take out the tough part running from the core to the stem. It makes a nicer looking round cut for serving the pear half (as with ice cream and raspberry sauce).

Edited by Norm Matthews (log)
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I use a power drill to help me make fine pasta and to spin taffy. I've also used it as a mixer for very large batches of cakes and cookies, with the attachment that's normally used for mixing paint.

I use all manner of drywall and tiling tools (particularly the spatulas) in cake decoration - I can never find nice stainless ones in the kitchen stores, but the hardware always has them, and they're only a couple of bucks.

I use small-diameter PVC tubing designed for cold-water pipes in place of hidden cake pillars. The list goes on...

The hardware store is a great place for kitchen stuff!

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Nothing is better for cracking nuts than a Vise-grip. I have been working on a small bag of whole macadamia nuts brought back from Hawaii, and the Vise-grip gives a nice, controllable crack, far superior to the otherwise inevitable hammer. I've even contemplated getting a nice stainless-steel version from a medical supply house to keep in the kitchen for this and other tasks that get it wet and risk rusting.

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The Richard brand of scrapers are my favourite. They are the right flex for scraping molds and making curls and such on marble. I have many of the 5inch wide ones and a couple of the 8 inch ones that they don't make any more. I used to hit every Rona I could find looking for extras of the wide one.

I hit P&A plastics in Hamilton any time I want them to make me something from PVC or plexiglass for my chocolate work.

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Most of us have hardware store torches. Microplanes were originally made for woodworking. At first the inventor seemed incredulous that they were being used in kitches. He seemed to think cooking was sissy stuff. Then he cashed in.

Notes from the underbelly

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You take a dough hook attachment for a hand-mixer (like these), snug that into the chuck, and then set the drill for the lowest torque possible. Have a friend hold the drill while you hold the taffy, and depress the trigger just a little (for slow rotation). Then you have both hands to manipulate the taffy while it spins.

For fine pasta, the concept is the same but you can use slightly higher speeds while pulling out.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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You take a dough hook attachment for a hand-mixer (like these), snug that into the chuck, and then set the drill for the lowest torque possible. Have a friend hold the drill while you hold the taffy, and depress the trigger just a little (for slow rotation). Then you have both hands to manipulate the taffy while it spins.

For fine pasta, the concept is the same but you can use slightly higher speeds while pulling out.

If you don't have a friend handy, you can get one of these handy drill clamps.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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The kitchen has become for me an extension of the shop. I buy the same type of rasps and mircoplaners for wood work and just get an extra for the kitchen. We use saws, chisels, hammers, plastic pipe, for all sorts of kitchen chores and have ever used a flatter hammer and anvil to flatten meat - wrap the meat in plastic and set the flatter on top and hit. It started for us when thee goddess stole a mircoplaner for cheese and a carving mallet I turned for driving a cleaver thru bone.

We also use the burners from our gas forge to brown meat after sous vide. Works much better than a torch.

Kevin

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have been listening to a local radio Food Talk show by Melinda Lee (KNX 1070)

A caller complained about the problems with cutting Hubbard squash.

I have used various methods over the years but some time ago bought a new pruning saw

like this one

That thing goes through a Hubbard or other hard-shelled squash like a hot knife through butter.

I simply cut the thing into rings, roast on a sheet pan and remove the skin after roasting - it just peels right off.

I also use it on the huge banana squash that a neighbor grows and it makes short work of a big job.

I secure them on the counter with a large bath towel (beach towel) rolled at each end to make a secure "nest" for the squash.

This particular saw goes into the dishwasher - I dry it well and oil the blade with mineral oil before storing it in the pantry.

I've also used it on very fresh beef bones - it cuts a bit more rapidly than my bone saw.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I use a laboratory hot plate magnetic stirer to take egged mixtures (like egged ice cream bases, cream anglaise, or Hollandaise) to nape. I got inexpensively off of Craigslist, purchased a new teflon coated magnetic stir bar, and attach a candy thermometer to the side of a non-ferrous (All-Clad) 2 quart saucepan. This makes it incredibly easy to get egged mixtures to nape, giving you an easy way to watch the temperature all the way to 180 degrees Fahrenheit without curdling.

-- Mache

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