Raw Food Kitchen Essentials

Russell James garnishing a raw pizza on a wooden chopping board

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

Chefs knife on a wooden chopping board with various vegetables around it

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.

This is a great all around knife for raw food that will last you many, many years: ZWILLING Professional

Dehydrator

Stainless steel TSM dehydrator with the door off on a steel bench

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.

Excalibur Dehydrator

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, plus ones with proper door!

I would advise getting at least a 9-tray one, 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.

Excalibur 10 Tray, Silver

Excalibur 9 Tray, Black

Greenstar Juicer

Greenstar Elite juicer on a white background surrounded by fruit and veg

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:

Tribest Greenstar Elite

Vitamix

Vitamix on a steel bench with a green background

OK, here’s the big boy in the room. 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.

I recommend: Vitamix Professional 750

Cuisinart Food Processor

Cuisinart food processor on a steel bench with a green background

My food processor of choice is the Cuisinart.

They do smaller ones, but I recommend going for something bigger, so that you can do bigger batches of things like crackers and breads in one go, saving so much time.

I recommend: Cuisinart 13 Cup

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.

Water Filter

Berkey water filter with separate filters around it all on a white background

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 Berkey Water filter.

To make sure I’m drinking truly alive water, I also drink water from vegetables, aka juicing ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

Mandoline

Mandoline on a steel bench

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.

Spiraliser

Lurch spiraliser on a steel bench with a green background

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, this is the one I enjoy using the most.  Actually, now I’ve written this I want to go use it.  That’ll be my dinner tonight ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

Russell James

Post by Russell James


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November 19th, 2014

79 thoughts on “Raw Food Kitchen Essentials”

  1. Hello, I am struggling with the choice of Chef’s Knife. I really love the Japanese ones (Shun Specially), but it seems like they are made for right-handed people, I know there are really good chefs knives that are ambidextrous. I was just wondering It really would make a difference for a left-handed use a Shun chef’s knife? is the angle of the knife such a big deal if I more in plant-based /raw cooking? It doesn’t look like but be a left-handed cook has a few extra challenges. ๐Ÿ™‚ Any insights on that, regarding chef’s knife choice? Many thanks!!

    Reply
    • I believe the Shun knives are left handed because of the grip. Japanese knives in general are only sharpened on one side of the blade. So I think it does make quite a difference.

      I think you’ll be able to find left handed Japanese knives online?

      Reply
  2. What exactly is the knife on display on top of the cutting board? Please share the name.

    Reply
  3. Thanks for sharing this wonderful article with us.I have been vegan for 6yrs and now a raw vegan for 1year 2months and I really love it. I have a strong passion for natural health ever since I was young and I love preparing food. It has been ringing in my ear to start a raw vegan business since I have passion for it,and I have prerecorded lots of raw recipes on my computer, but am stuck how to start.I have many friends who do comments about few recipes I shared on my timeline. Please can you give me any advice. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Hey Joojo, it really depends on what type of raw vegan business you want. If you’re looking to share your recipes, then I suggest start a blog and publish them with some really nice photos, whilst at the same time starting an email list.

      Reply
  4. Hi Russell,
    A friend introduced me to your site and I have tried one of your recipes and it is delicious. I look forward to trying others. I am writing to give you feedback on your website. I am struggling to read your website because the background colour and the lettering are very similar in quite a few places. Writing this comment with grey lettering rather than black which has a high contrast is more challenging. There are a lot of people with vision problems, or dyslexia that would struggle with your site, including both my children which are avid cooks. Certain colours vibrate making it impossible to read. Red being one of them. There is one part of the information on your courses that is grey background with white lettering, I can’t read it at all. I would really like to read your whole website.

    Reply
    • Hey Kailash, thanks for your feedback and I totally agree on the grey text on white being difficult to read, so we’re going to change that.

      You mentioned that red is difficult for people with the challenges you listed to read. Was that just a general example, or is there a place you’re seeing that on my site? I think generally we don’t use red for text ๐Ÿ™‚

      Also, if you could give me the URL of the page where you’re seeing the white text on grey, that would be useful, so I can take a look at it.

      Reply
  5. Hey Russell! ๐Ÿ™‚
    What are your thoughts on Lurch Super Spiralizer? Is it any good?
    I’ve never had a proper spiralizer, So thinking which one to buy Lurch Spirali or Lurch Super Spiralizer? What do you recommend?

    Reply
    • I like the Spirali, but I’ve never used the Super version. Looks good, although the only difference I can see is the metal rod in the middle. Not sure of that’s worth the double price.

      Reply
  6. I’ve been through several juicers and hated them. I too now use a high power blender and a nut milk bag. The amount of pulp per litre of juice is so much less. I used to have so much pulp I ran into trouble with the council disposing of it. It was also always wet. Now the amount and wetness of pulp are up to me…..it depends on how much I squeeze …… and there is so much less to wash up. Blender jug, blade and the bit that holds them together. The bag needs a rinse under the tap but remains green however vigorously I wash it. There’s a bowl too of course, but there are always bowls aren’t there? Juicers freak me and the number of parts to wash is terrible.
    Here’s to the manual method!

    Reply
  7. Hi Russell,

    Thank you so much for your inspirational good work.
    I’m thinking of investing a very good blender as I love green smoothies in the morning and making humus etc.
    I’m in between Vitamix and blendtec, and love to seek your opinion please.
    Or if you could do blender special with pros and cons, it’ll be super xx!! Please? Xxx

    Reply
  8. I’m looking into buying a water distiller at the moment as I’ve just moved and the tap water is completely unpalatable here. After you’ve distilled your water about how much Himalayan salt do you add per gallon? Thank you so much for this lovely list!

    Reply
    • It’s really a personal thing, but if you want to go on the lower end, I would say a teaspoon per gallon and that will be enough to give it come good minerals. I actually prefer to use Celtic sea salt these days.

      Reply
  9. Another essential tool for me is a hand grater for garlic and making orange or lemon rind.

    Reply
  10. Hi Russell, I am so inspired by your recipes. I am on the road to raw eating and right now cannot justify investing in equipment but I was given the (more powerful) Nutribullet 900 for Christmas and it performs really well. Not just for my green smoothies but grinding nuts for flan cases, cashew cream and macadamia cheese. For anyone wanting a first stage blender that is a cut above the standard food processor then this has to be in the running.

    Reply
      • re the difference between food processor and vitamix pro 750….i own this vitamix blender but don’t own a food processor. what exactly would you use food processor for?

        Reply
          • Hi Russell thanks for the reply!! Im still not certain as to the difference in a Vitamix Pro 750 and a food processor…so you said a food processor is good for pestos dried cracker mixes etc but why is that? why exactly wouldn’t a vitamix work for those? thanks a lot!!

          • Hey Una, cracker mixes are too thick for a Vitamix. You could do pesto in a Vitamix, but it’s got more texture to it in a food processor.

  11. Hey Russell ! I just found about your mad cooking skills and I’m looking forward to trying out some new recipes this week! I love… love …. Love. …your cutting board. Where do u get yours from?

    Reply
  12. I’m a thermomix fan as well, you definitely I think you will also become a big fan!! But I also wanted to express gratitude to you, Russell. Your doing a terrific job here. I’m usually not drawn to reading the multitude of emails which can come my way….but yours Russell, are ALWAYS worth the time and give me not just valuable information/inspiration, but joy and happiness too. So THANK YOU.

    Reply
  13. Thanks for the post. I have heard of, or have, most of what you included. What I find sometimes more difficult is creating meals for 1 or 2 people but having to buy vegetables in larger quantities. I would appreciate some tips on how to store vegetables to maximize their time in the fridge between preparations. Are there any “gadgets” out there to help in storing vegetables?

    Reply
    • Thanks, Susan. None that I know of. One way of keeping veg, especially leaves, for longer is to put them with some paper kitchen towel in a sealed container or bag in a nice cold part of the fridge.

      Reply
    • BerryBreeze Activated Oxygen Refrigerator Deodorizer is available through Amazon. Small, effective, and only requires that you change its batteries several times per year c

      Reply
    • Try Tupperware containers for storing vegetables,greens,fruits. I’m using them and can say it works!

      Reply
  14. The post above didn’t indicate the photo or link for the wine straining bag. Can you please provide that. Thank you!

    Reply
  15. Hi, Thank you for all the really helpful tips. I have been looking for nut bags or Wine straning bags, but have not had much luck. I live in Denmark, do you know any places online where I can buy them? Thank you for your great way of presenting raw food, you are the first one who has inspired me to te point where I actually got started and want to do more than one meal a day. Your free receipes are awasome and so tasty ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    • Hey Kira, thanks for stopping by and for your kind comments ๐Ÿ™‚

      I’ve added the link to the wine straining bags, so you’ll be able to get them sent from the UK, I’m sure.

      Reply
  16. Thanks Russell, I have everything as well and agree with Marianne about the thermomix. I love it especially the controlled temperature and working with chocolate. I have both models too ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  17. Thanks Russell, good to see a list, I do have them all.. just need the time and inspiration to use them more often !! we’ve just hit summer over here in oz, so its getting easier to eat fresh foods and green smoothies for breakfast daily. love you work !

    Reply
  18. On your videos, I think you use cast iron cookware? What is the brand? I have yucky cast iron that I have tried desperately to clean up/season and just want to start over, especially because I think yours might be healthier (haven’t researched that much)? Also regarding the cookware, does it work as non-stick for sauteeing? I am having trouble with my stainless steel cookware for that.

    Reply
  19. What a great idea putting this list together, thank you Russell. I have been collecting all the best pieces of equipment over the past year as I believe that your results will tell a story if the equipment falls short. there’s always something new to buy but with careful thought and now this guide we shall all be happier little chef’s in the kitchen. Thank you again ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  20. I got my Excalibur stainless steel dehydrator in Jan of this year from a UK online seller, so they are here now! I have to say, whilst the outside looks good and feels sturdier, the trays, which are also metal, are pretty heavy, have a bar supporting the mess across the middle of them — which raises the teflex sheet in the middle so it’s no longer flat, and always snag my hands when handling them, as the mesh is not finished off very well at the edges. I much prefer the plastic trays!

    Reply
  21. i can thoroughly recommend the Thermomix. I purchased my first Thermomix when the TM21 was the current model, then I moved onto the TM31 and now the new mode 5 (TM5). I give my Thermomix a thorough workout regularly and it just keeps on going. It is very reliable, versatile, efficient, durable, and a pleasure to use. I could keep on raving on. It has integrated scales. The heat is reliable and accurate so you can safely warm food to a raw food acceptable temperature. Sure, they come at a price, as does any quality appliance, but the Thermomix replaces 12 other kitchen appliances so saves you money in the long run. If the price is a deterrent to some, there is the option to sign up as a consultant and earn your Thermomix. This is how I came to be able to purchase mine. The Thermomix is an excellent investment in a lifestyle and every day I count my blessings that I have one in my kitchen. The only regret you will have when you get it is that you didn’t do it sooner. It’s easy to use, easy to clean and provides a no fuss way of food preparation that makes healthy lifestyle dietary choices sustainable. It things get too hard, too messy or too time consuming it is difficult for most people to persevere but with the Thermomix it all becomes not only possible but an exciting adventure. All the best. i hope you find the time to explore the Thermomix option.

    Reply
  22. Hi there Russell, Definitely need a knife sharpening block…. I keep meaning to get one. Have many, once good knives…Any recommendations?
    Also, would Really recommend proper plumbed in water filter, I’ve had Pure H2O one (aquathin) for years and can’t live without it. Wash all the vegis in it. Nothing comes close re. quality.
    Wanted to know if KTC blender is any good… They say it’s invincible, and way cheaper. Any thoughts?

    Reply
    • Hey Gill,

      Do you want a sharpening block or a steel? A steel is all most people need to keep their knife sharp. I’d recommend any diamond steel. It’s only when that stops working that you’d need a stone.

      A plumbed in water filter is definitely my next step ๐Ÿ™‚

      I’ve not seen or used the KTC blender.

      Thanks for stopping by ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
    • I got a Nutribullet, but wasn’t crazy impressed with the way it’s held together. I think I got an early UK version. Great for travelling. But the Vitamix personal blender comes out soon ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  23. Thanks Russell really useful info…..we’re thinking of getting either a Vitamix or Blendtec for smoothies for our small health studio in Italy. Haven’t decided yet! Fx

    Reply
  24. Hiya, reg dehydrator. Do you order it in US and get delivered in UK or when you travel to US you buy it and bring it in luggage? And how about the power plug?

    Reply
  25. Russell, I so appreciate your clear writing and personal writing voice. I just went out to see what’s available online for wine-straining bags. I assume that I would want the “fine” vs. the “coarse.” Would those be suitable for nut milks as well? I have a Norwalk Press juicer which I hear referred to as the Cadillac of juicers, but it takes a lot of time for cleanup. The juice does not have any fiber after the pulp is pressed in the cloth bags in the hydraulic press. I like the idea of being able to create a fresh impromptu juice using my Vitamix and a wine-straining bag. I’m considering a water filtering system. Are you familiar with Berke in the U.K.? That is what I am looking at here in the U.S. Thanks for all the amazing resources you bring to bear on today’s challenging arena of food choices.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much, Laura. I’ve put a link to the UK wine straining bag in the post now, so you can see what it looks like.

      I’ve seen a Norwalk and it’s amazing. You certainly get a lot more juice out of it.

      I also have a Berkey here, in the class/work space, as the distiller doesn’t produce enough for that.

      Reply
  26. I have pretty much all of what you have recommended and love all my equipment but last year I purchased a Thermomix and this year they brought out another which I also purchased. I would say that if you don’t have a Vitamix or food processor, go for a Thermomix, amazing machines. I purchased my first one because I did not like how much of what I had made (usually raw cheesecake) stayed in the Vitamix – I don’t have a problem with removing every last scrap from the Thermomix ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    • I have 2 Thermomix machines and a Vitamix machine I like how the Thermomix doe not oxidise the food and the flavour is so intense.
      Best investment and has a more secure seal and 1 bowl does it all.
      I recommend looking into these machines when your home supply wears out

      Reply
        • Hi Russell I’m absolutely amazed by your website what a joy and everything one needs to know in one place! i wish id have found you sooner! Anyway how about the Kangal alkizing water machine-is this the same thing as other people were talking about on this page? what do you know of it and do you think its worth investing in? according to your knowledge whats the general consensus amongst the health conscious – whats the best possible water filtering type thing out there? or whats the best thing to do to water? I’m so confused re the water there so many ideas. thanks!!

          Reply
          • Hey Una, thanks so much for your comments ๐Ÿ™‚

            It does seem everyone has a different idea about the ‘best water’. Universally, water straight from the spring is the best. You can see if anyone has located one hear you at findaspring.com.

            Kangen water is ionised water, which means it’s alkalised, which is essentially the same as an ioniser. I did have in ioniser and would recommend the Chansen brand if you go down that route. It did feel really good when I drank it and will probably do that again at some point.

            At the moment, I’m using a Berkey filter as I feel like it gives the best filtration when I’m living in London, where the water has all kinds of stuff in.

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