Has a recipe ever called for a pastry blender and you’ve never owned one in your life? Here are a few suggestions for using commonly found utensils in place of not-so-commonly found ones.
I don’t profess to be a chef by any means, but I have baked a lot. Therefore, I’ve found the following methods to work for me.
Used often to cut in shortening or fat into flour for doughy recipes, it’s a handle with curved blades.
The simple substitute is using two knives, either metal or plastic. Hold one knife in each hand and cut across your mixture in opposite directions so that the knives cross paths. Letting them actually make contact and “rub” helps to cut the mixture faster but isn’t necessary.
Another possible replacement is a large metal whisk. Since the whisk has lots of wires to cut through the dough. One drawback however, is that flour and shortening tend to get caught up inside the whisk. Just knock it hard on the rim of your bowl to shake it out.
Fancy name for pieces of lemon or orange peel. There’s also a fancy utensil, which looks a lot like a fat fork, and is used to scrape off small pieces of the rind.
A regular grater can create the same effect. The amount of pressure you use on the grater will determine the size of the pieces. Scrape gently to get thinner pieces. I suggest the regular grater size because smaller, finer graters tend to make mush of the rind pieces rather than strips.
A sturdy spork can create a similar effect as well. Or a Grapefruit Spoon (a teaspoon with jagged edging to help remove grapefruit from the rind).
Ok, not sure if there’s an actual gadget for this, but since I was on the subject of Grapefruit spoons, thought I’d mention that these are also great for removing the leafy tops of strawberries. They are much more efficient than cutting them with a knife. Just insert the spoon at an angle and scoop off the strawberry’s top. You’ll see that you lose a lot less of the strawberry vs. using a knife.
A heavier hammer-shaped utensil that has two large ridged sides. These ridges, pounded into meat, helps to tenderize the meat.
Here again that large whisk can be used. You’ll have to supply the force yourself since there isn’t all the extra weight like in the actual meat tenderizer utensil, but just pound the side of the whisk on the meat several times on both sides of the meat and you should note some difference in tenderness upon eating it.
Meat Tenderizers are also good for crushing things into crumbs, but for those of us who don’t own said utensil, place your crackers or cookies into a sealed Ziploc bag and whack with a wooden spoon or rolling pin. Note that make sure your wooden spoon is sturdy and don’t whack TOO hard, or else you’ll break the spoon. (Yes, I’ve done that!)
A circular cookie cutter with a handle, they often come with a removable smaller cutter on the inside which forms the hole when cutting donuts. You remove it to make biscuits.
For biscuits, or the outline of a donut, a plastic cup or drinking glass works just fine. You can even sort through your cups and glasses to find the exact size you prefer, in case you like bigger biscuits or smaller donuts, etc.
For donut holes, use the mouth of a pop bottle. (soda bottle…for non-Midwesterners)
Flour Sifter/Powdered Sugar Sifter
These range in shape, but often consist of a cup or other container, with a handle and a trigger or a crank. The trigger or crank moves blades at the bottom of the container which sift the flour or powdered sugar through a grate or screen.
There a few different methods of sifting which you can use in lieu of an actual sifter utensil. The way I learned back in Junior High Home Economics, was to place the flour or sugar on a large piece of waxed paper, then cut with a large knife. The same as if you were mincing veggies. Then just pour into your measuring cup.
Since then, I’ve decided that I prefer using a strainer. Use any size that’s comfortable with you, just as long as it sits on the measuring cup. (You can even use a strainer that’s bigger than the cup, just keep the flour or sugar toward the center of the strainer.) Set the strainer on top of your measuring cup and spoon the flour or sugar onto the strainer. Tap or shake the strainer to get the flour/sugar through.
When I’m not patient enough for the strainer method, I simply put ¾ of the called for amount into the measuring cup and then stir vigorously with a mini-whisk, mini rotary blade or even a fork.