17+ years on the road and we’ve never shared much about what kitchen tools we use in our overland kitchen, apart from the Coleman Stove, Coleman Camp Oven and the Pressure Cooker, all of which have inspired so many other overlanders to bring one on their journey as well.
So, let’s talk about some of the smaller stuff. Seemingly not particularly important and arguably not even necessities, but oh so convenient on the road, making you wonder why you left without them in the first place.
We left the Netherlands with the absolute minimum in our overland kitchen, but as cooking our own meals got a more prominent place in our journey, we changed, upgraded and added a few utensils and tools in the kitchen department.
Here are our 5 favorite smal kitchen tools.
1. Proper Knives
I hate it when I am slicing an onion and the blade diverges from my intended straight cut. Let’s face it: once you have grown used to a properly sharpened knife, you will (probably) acknowledge that all the knives you previously used actually did a poor job.
Depending on what type of cooking you do, the knives you will bring may vary. It took us a while to figure out what we considered essentials, partly as a result of changes in our diet and camping style. It boils down to a mix of knives that work in 99% of the situations.
Of course your needs may be different if, for example, you prepare fish or hunt your own game.
This lightweight, one-piece 8-inch Chef’s knife handles extremely well, especially for those with smaller hands. Can’t go wrong with this one.
Our preferred peeling and paring knife. This little fellow with its curved beak is the one we dig out of our cutlery box time and time again when we are cooking. To protect it from dulling we bought a small hard plastic sheath.
Victorinox Classic Tomato and Table Knife
Given to us by a Swiss overlander twelve years ago, she remarked that this knife would amaze us. It did, and still does. Vegetables and especially the ones with a soft skin such as tomatoes are no match for this slender all-round table knife. It’s my favorite knife to cut our home-baked, dark and heavy bread.
For everything we cut when we are not in the Land Cruiser. This large-bladed pocketknife goes with us on every hike that involves a lunch or more. On our thru-hikes in Jordan, South Korea, Turkey, and Israel, the Vicotrinox Outrider was an indispensable tool not only for cooking purposes, but also as a general fix-it-all.
The next in line (Hercules) has a set of pliers that could be interesting, for example if you are traveling by bicycle.
2. A Sharpener
With knives also comes the job of keeping them sharp. Over the years I have used a variety of tools to obtain sharpness with mixed success. Mind you, living in the Land Cruiser, I looked for as small as possible solutions to maintain our knives, otherwise I could have taken our regular honing steel.
At first we had a double-sided sharpening stone, which never really worked for me. Having to keep it wet and not being able to clamp it down properly made using it a chore I disliked.
Then, in the world of You Tube and Amazon, somebody tipped me to look into the Lansky Turn Box. I am so glad I followed up on that! This set is as small as it gets and turns into a full-fledged honing workbench before you can say ‘knife’.
3. The Grater
As simple as it sounds, chopping up vegetables and cheese and turning them into a salad, will take considerable time. Enter the grater, or shredder. Originally invented to grate cheese in the 1540s (how’s that for a fun fact?!), we have used this kitchen utensil to turn cucumber, carrots, beets and cabbage into a salad in no time.
Finding a small and stainless-steel version took us a few years and were happy when we found the foldable Fiskars grater. Unfortunately, there is a newer version that can no longer be folded (and comes with other features). My tip: buy the old one if you can still find it.
4. The Sieve
This is one of those things of which Karin-Marijke initially said, “What nonsense. A sieve. No, we are nog going to bring one. We can drain the pasta using a lid.” And so, since she is the kitchen boss, we didn’t bring one.
In Brazil, however, we learned to bake beijus, a type of tapioca pancake and for this we needed a sieve. And so the sieve became part of our kitchen equipment and we now use it to wash rice, quinoa, drain liquid from soaking beans, and wash vegetables. Ergo, it has become a quite versatile piece of equipment that we use almost daily.
It has to fit exactly into the stack of stainless-steel camping pots and bowls, so we found a sieve without a handle. We use our camping-pot grip to hold it when hot liquids are in play.
5. Stick Blender
Karin-Marijke is a congenital anosmic, meaning she can’t smell. An immediate result of this condition is that the texture of food is extremely important to her and she doesn’t like mushy pieces of vegetables in her soup, for instance. When we changed to a plant-based diet, however, it was convenient to add more soups to our diet but on the condition they were smooth, creamy versions.
Our already beloved pressure cooker turned out to be the ultimate soup maker: you pile in any left-over vegetables with a handful of legumes and some spices and five minutes of boiling provides you with a delicious steaming pot of soup.
To make it creamy we tried sieving a few times but it’s a lot of work. That is why we were happy to learn of Swiss Roger Perrinjaquet’s invention (in the 1950s): the Bamix. The name of this handheld blender is composed of the words ‘battre’ and ‘mixer’ (beat and mix).
Or, in today’s words, it is called an Immersion Blender – or stick blender in popular terms.
Most brands are in a power struggle to offer the most Watts for your money but our requirement was the fewest Watts that still produced enough speed to ‘beat and mix’ our soups. The Bamix Mono is very energy efficient, delivering a lot of power with few watts (140 watt). This is very important if you depend on solar or battery power alone. Also the whole stainless steel build of the blender and motor feels so solid.
The company backs its blenders with a whopping 10-year warranty, and that is good to know if you are like us – wandering of the map now and then. If you are into homemade peanut butter, you might want to buy the additional 400ml beaker in order to contain the roasted nuts in a tighter space. This way they are forced to be turned into marvelous smooth nut butter.
What is Your Favorite Overland Kitchen Tool?
So here it is, our list with kitchen tools we no longer want to miss. What favorites do you carry in your overland kitchen?
Let us know in the comment section below!
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