Kitchen Tools Tips

Because a good cast-iron pan is the gift that keeps on giving

Unwrapping sparkling, new kitchen equipment is something we look forward to each holiday season. From slow cookers to sous-vide circulators, playing around with these gadgets is our version of basking in that new car smell.

Before you break into your newly acquired gear, though, read these tips and tricks on how to make the most of your culinary toys.

① Keep Your Chef's Knife Sharp

A freshly sharpened knife is a joy to use, and with a little TLC, you can preserve that fresh-from-the-box feel for as long as possible. Handwashing and drying your knife after each use, and honing the edge every so often will cut down (pun intended) on how often you need to get it professionally sharpened.

② Clean Your Cutting Board

Wooden cutting boards can be beautiful display pieces—with a little imagination, we can all pretend we're Ina Garten cooking Friday dinner for Jeffrey. To keep your new board presentable, follow our cleaning tips and rub it down with mineral oil once a month to prevent odors and scratches from accumulating on that smooth surface.

③ Treat Your Cast Iron

Though much cast-iron cookware is labeled as "pre-seasoned," it's never a bad idea to give it another go-round to ensure its longevity. A rubdown with a neutral oil and an hour in a hot oven will make the pan more effective and food less prone to sticking.

④ Get to Know Your Slow Cooker

Is there anything a slow cooker can't do? Before you commit yourself to daylong soups, stews and braises, read up on these helpful slow cooker hacks, including using it to proof bread and transforming it into a foolproof double boiler for melting chocolate.

⑤ Master Your Chemex

Now that you're the proud owner of a sexy Chemex, you've officially crossed over into the land of coffee snobbery—and we mean that in best way possible. Keep up your cool, new reputation with our definitive pour-over guide, covering everything from how to precisely measure your beans to the best tea kettle for all your pouring purposes.

⑥ Protect Your Nonstick Cookware

Nonstick pans revolutionized our omelet skills—and Julia Child impressions—but before you don your best French Chef accent, make sure you're following these cardinal rules: Avoid high heat and never use sharp metal utensils. The same rules apply to your nonstick bakeware.

⑦ Operate Your Mandoline Safely

For professional chefs and home cooks alike, this fancy slicer is at once one of the most useful and most feared gadgets in the kitchen. Keep your precious fingertips safe and enjoy your potato chips, vegetable tians and layered gratins, too, with this handy mandoline diagram and guide.

⑧ Study Up on Sous-Vide Cooking

New to the world of sous vide? This ingenious cooking method can seem a bit tricky at first; luckily, there are plenty of cookbooks and guides to help you get started. Whether you're searing a perfectly medium-rare steak or whipping up gorgeous winter root vegetables, we've got you covered.