Raw Food Kitchen Essentials
By far the most common questions that I get are to do with raw food kitchen equipment.
So I decided to do it once for all. . .
I’m creating my definitive list of favourite stuff for the kitchen. I’ll keep this updated too, so you’ll know that it’s my latest recommendations.
BTW, if you’re a manufacturer and want to send me a bit of kit to take a look at for this list, drop us an email. A note on that though, I want to keep this list authentic, so I’ll only post stuff that I use and think is awesome.
I’ve also created a PDF for you with everything from this post on. All you have to do is share this post far and wide on the social interwebs and the download is yours to keep. See the bit at the bottom of this post for that.
Please also note that you absolutely do not need to buy everything here to start or maintain a raw food diet. The biggest help in making your raw food recipes will be the first 2 items on the list: a really good knife and chopping board.
I’ve put anything and everything here that I’ve collected in the past 10 years of being into raw food, so take your time when putting your own raw food kitchen together.
Here goes. . .
Knife & Cutting Board
This is by far the most important thing to invest in first off.
A great knife and chopping board will make you feel like you’re creating art in the kitchen. And that’s a good thing because that’s exactly what you’re doing.
I don’t even mean takes ages over presentation either. I’m talking about everything you do in the kitchen being your art. Creating health is an art. Creating time for yourself to do this is an art.
It makes a difference when you think about it like this.
Knives are definitely a personal choice. It comes down to how it feels when you use it. Different people like different weights.
And some chefs will collect them just because that’s what they like to do. But that doesn’t mean you have to have a huge set of multiple knives. Even chefs that have a huge amount of knives end up using one (their favourite) most of the time. And after all, we’re just chopping vegetables here, not meat.
Not totally necessary, but boy does it bring an edge to your raw food preparation. If you haven’t got one yet, you’ve probably seen lots of raw food recipes that need dehydrators and wondered whether to invest. Or you’re pining after one until you can afford it.
I use 2 different brands of dehydrator.
Currently I use Excalibur Dehydrators in my workspace and a TSM dehydrator in my home kitchen. To be honest I end up doing most of my raw food prep in my workspace, so the TSM doesn’t see much action at the moment.
I have a blog post talking about raw food dehydrators if you want to actually see what they are how they work.
I also have a post about using an oven instead of a dehydrator.
Here’s what I like and dislike about the ones I use right now. And remember, I’ll always keep this post updated so this will always be the ones I’m using at the moment.
This is the staple dehydrator of the raw food world. I’ve had one since I started out and I still find them the easiest to work with. Mine has had to have a couple of extra screws in it to hold the thing together, but that’s only because I’ve had them in and out of the back of cars over the years, catering, doing classes and whatnot. If you’re not using yours professionally, you won’t have that issue.
That’s really the main drawback of this dehydrator; the plastic looks and feels cheap, and don’t get me started on the ‘door’, which is basically another piece of plastic that hangs off the front.
There’s a light at the end of the tunnel though. Excalibur now make stainless steel one. They’ve yet to come to the UK, but are available in the US. I’ll be buying one.
For now, I have the 9 tray, which I would advise because it’s so easy to fill up a 5 tray really quickly. I advise that you use your dehydrator a couple of times a week to make lots of goodies to keep you going.
A timer is not essential either. It’s a little more expensive to get one, but you only really need it if you’re going to be out when something you need to be partly dry finishes. An example would be if you make wraps; they need to not be dehydrated to crackers, but stay pliable.
I love this dehydrator for it’s look and build quality. The ‘door’ on this one is a little more substantial so doesn’t feel like just a pice of hanging plastic, helped by the fact it’s actually stainless steel too. I do also find the fan a bit more efficient and quieter. The trays though aren’t quite as nice to work with as the Excalibur ones.
Everything I said above about the size of the dehydrator applies here too. As does the timer. Actually, this dehydrator has an option to get a digital readout timer and temperature control, which is really cool if you’re into your gadgets.
I’ve had a few different juicers over the years and there always seems to be one that’s different and better. As I write this, the new thing is to make a vertical juicer, but to be honest, I think we’re at a point where juicers are about as good as they’re going to get. Unless James Dyson decides to enter the juicer market.
More recently I even got into using my Vitamix as a juicer. Just blend the goodies and then strain them through a nut milk bag. It’s quick and easy, so good if you’re in a hurry.
But for quality juice, I always seem to come back to this juicer. It does have a few parts to clean, but it doesn’t’ ever take me over 10 minutes to clean. It just seems like a mountain to climb when you look at it.
As they say, the best juicer is the one you’ll actually use. Currently, this is the one I use.
OK, here’s the big boy in the room. I’m not even sure what that means, or if it sounds weird. . .
But the Vitamix is the hands-down most used piece of equipment after my knife and cutting board.
It’s absolutely worth the money and everyone I seem to speak to about it says they use theirs daily too. It’s definitely not one of those pieces of equipment that gathers dust.
People often ask me the difference between a Vitamix (which is a blender) and a food processor, and if they need both.
The easiest way to think about it is that a Vitamix (blender) is good for blending liquids, or anything that needs to be smooth. A food processor will grind things down and give you the option to have some chunkiness.
Now, there’s some overlap here. For example, there’s lots of things you could do in either. Tomato sauce would be one. But if you wanted really smooth cashew cream, you’ll never get that in a food processor.
Which brings me neatly on to. . .
Cuisinart Food Processor
My food processor of choice is the Cuisinart MP14nu (I just typed that without looking it up, because I’ve been asked about the model number so often #geek).
They don’t actually make this model anymore, but the new range is just as good, you have a choice in that new range of bowl sizes, so I would go for the biggest you can afford.
Food processors are great for making your own nut butter (although you can actually do that in a Vitamix too) and for grinding batter for crackers and breads.
I live and work in London and the water that comes out of the tap here has been sanitised, chemically cleaned, been through 100s of humans (that’s a strange thing to think about), has traveled and sat in miles of pipes and you only have to look at the inside of a kettle to know that’s not what you want your insides to look like.
There’s 2 issue with water. First is the cleanliness and second is the aliveness. For the first one, I use a distiller. Many articles have been written about the distiller and how the water is dead water. I’d agree with that, but I want to get the cleanest water I can, so I distill and then add some Himalayan salt to give it some structure again.
I use the Ecowater 800.
To make sure I’m drinking truly alive water, I also drink water from vegetables, aka juicing 🙂
For more on this, check out Kevin Gianni’s Water Secrets series. It’s fascinating and will give you a new appreciation of the water you drink.
I’ve used this style of mandoline (pictured) from the beginning, but when I lost the hand guard for my first one, I decided it was time to buy a really fancy stainless steel mandoline, 3 times the price of this.
And I didn’t like the new one. It just didn’t cut as well as this one. Any search online for a mandoline will bring up one of these in the first couple of results, but if you have trouble, search for the Joyce Chen mandoline.
To be honest, I don’t really use this a lot. I prefer my peeler to make pasta out of vegetables. But I am including it on the list here, because it’s a popular piece of kit.
Of all the spiralisers out there, the Lurch Spirali is the best one. Actually, now I’ve written this I want to go use it. That’ll be my dinner tonight 🙂
Wine Straining Bag
My good friend Amy Levin (we made some raw chocolate videos together) put me on to these instead of a nut milk bag.
Nut milk nags for making nut milk are cool and all, but these wine straining bags are bigger and sturdier.
Is there anything I’ve missed? Leave a comment if there’s a piece of equipment that you are thinking of buying and want my opinion on.