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Mise en place containers


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The "prep ahead" thread has already moved on to braising liquid and the like, not that there is anything wrong with that.  To move back to MEP, what do you use to store your prepped ingredients?

I have a set of Japanese-made blue ceramic bowls (the kind you see at a lot of Asian groceries, with designs on them) that hold about 24 oz each.  Each one can hold a large diced onion, or a couple of bell peppers, a few mushrooms, some diced chicken for stir-fry, or whatever.  For smaller things (minced garlic, spices) I used the little Pyrex bowls.  For larger, I have some glass bowls.  Since most of my cooking is for two people, the blue bowls are perfect for a whole lot of different MEP.

I thought about getting some Lexan bins, but then I realized that the blue bowls have a distinct advantage:  they have no corners, so they're easy to wash by hand.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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For ingredients that are going to be prepped far enough in advance to benefit from being kept covered, I have a couple of big sets of the Rubbermaid Servin’ Saver® EZ Topps™ containers. They're microwave, freezer, and dishwasher safe, and they stack very efficiently both empty and full. The sets include containers in every size from just big enough for a few diced shallots to a gallon-sized container big enough for a whole mess of batter or stock. I also use these for leftovers and other miscellaneous food storage. There are better products available at the professional level, but I'm not sure they're worth the massive price difference.

For ingredients that will be used right away, I use small Pyrex bowls that I have in sets of four in four different sizes as well as whatever bowls happen to be lying around that are appropriately sized for the task at hand. I've got lots and lots and lots of bowls in various materials and sizes, so I rarely get caught short.

Also when I get into cooking mode I always fill a small Pyrex bowl with coarse salt and keep it next to the stove with the pepper mill and olive oil cruet nearby so I can access it easily and efficiently with my bare hands. If I'm going to be working with butter I put a bunch on a small plate and leave it out to get soft enough to work with easily.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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In addition to regular glass bowls of all sizes, I use various sizes of Pyrex glass measuring cups.  They have  distinct advantages- they can pour, they have a handle, they can show you how much you have and they can go in the microwave, if necessary.  I have five of them ranging in size from one ounce(no handle) to one quart.  The trade off for not having a cover but being incredibly easy to maneuver is well worth it.

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I use stainless steel mixing bowls. I actually have about 80 of them so many duplicate sizes. But then I cook for ten to twenty or more. Some are bunged into the fridge, cling wrapped; others are on the counter, in acidulated or salted water (the original "marinade") and covered with a towel. Clean up works well because they can just be stacked inside each other and if I need to whisk, well it's in a mixing bowl.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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I use mostly ramekins and an assorted set of glass bowls for holding my mise. I also like to put little piles of things on a plate or on my jumbo cutting board for sliding into pots and pans at the appropriate time. Next to my stove is a box of sea salt, a pepper grinder, a bottle of olive oil, a dish with ginger root and a head or two of garlic, and a bottle of peanut oil for insta-mise. I keep a butter bell on the counter too.

If I'm storing, I keep those ultracheep GladWare type containers around since I'm hell on the things and can't justify spending even Rubbermaid-type amounts on such items. I also store in Ziploc bags if the items aren't too stinky in nature. I package leftovers in the aforementioned GladWare for toting to work and so on. I am about to invest in some nicer plasticware for the purpose of freezing since I have this gorgeous chest freezer full of empty space to fill. Any product recommendations?

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I forgot to add that I often put plastic wrap over the tops of the bowls before I put them in the fridge (Saran should hire me for a commerical, and I'm not talking about Suvir).

Oh, and Malawry, Gladware containers rock.  We have a large drawer full of many sizes, and use them a lot.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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I have several ceramic bowls for chopped, diced, sliced, etc ingredients, as well as the usual pyrex measuring cups, fat separators. I use the fat separators as pouring devices since they rarely drip, and have a cover.

A 2 oz size plastic drinking cup ("bathroom size") is useful for pre-measured spices, chopped herbs, wine, etc. $1 for 100 of them.

I have a dozen Plochmann's glass mustard jars (at least 16 years old) which stack nicely for leftovers. Each holds about a pint of liquid or leftovers. They're nicely supplemented by Ortega Prima Salsa jars with measuring marks on the sides.

Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

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I have an ever-growing collection of little china dishes.  Every kitchenware store seems to sell them for two or three dollars, so whenever I buy something for the kitchen, I always pick up at least one of these.   I used to use one of these for my salt, but now find a small ramekin better for pinching without spilling.  The coarse salt, as Steven said, is always at hand for instant seasoning.

You have to watch it with the butter, and consider what your intentions are.  It's good to have it out and soft enough to handle for some purposes, but if you're going to use a beurre manie technique for thickening a sauce - which I do use, very sparingly - you want to work with butter only recently out of a fridge.  Try to make buerre manie pellets with soft butter, and you end up wearing butter and flour gloves!

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I am about to invest in some nicer plasticware for the purpose of freezing since I have this gorgeous chest freezer full of empty space to fill. Any product recommendations?

For my fridge freezer I just bought a set of plastic organizer drawers at Target -- a stack of three, each drawer about 9 x 12 by 3" tall. (They had all kinds of organizers for closets and things, including stacking bins that might work well for a chest....) It's working great to organize a formerly chaotic place (why the heck are freezers one big hole?), I've got nuts and seeds in one drawer, dried fruit in another, grains in another. I'm thinking about getting a second. I only did it yesterday, tho, and I wonder whether the food needs air circulation -- but I've also heard that a freezer packed full of food is more energy effecient than one that's not, so perhaps it's not an issue.

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