Our Top 5 Tools

We've fallen in love with loads of kitchen gadgets over the years, but there are five we can't live without. (Shhhh … don't tell the garlic press.)
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very important tools

1. Salad Spinner
Our favorite: Zyliss Easy Spin Salad Spinner; $25
You could wash and pat your greens dry or pay a premium for the prewashed and bagged variety. Or, you could save yourself grief by springing for a salad spinner. Opt for the drawstring/yo-yo style for salad in seconds flat.

See more salad spinner picks

2) Paring Knife
Our favorite: Rachael Ray Gusto-Grip 4-inch Paring Knife; $12.50
This sharp son of a gun is the average knife's stunt double. It steps up in a pinch when you need to slice and dice a vegetable or two, and offers the control you need to tenderly hull strawberries and core apples.

3) Microplane
Our favorite: Microplane Home Series Medium Ribbon Grater; $15
We love these babies so much, we own two of 'em: a grater to shave cheese and a zester to handle orange, lemon and lime peel.

See more cheese grater picks

4) Tongs
Our favorite: Rachael Ray 2-Piece Tong Set; $30
This number's got brains and beauty: Its long legs mean you can flip steaks or toss and turn veggies in a piping-hot skillet without burning your fingers. And its silicone head allows for easy gripping in high heat -- even in the oven.

5) Vegetable Peeler
Our favorite: OXO Good Grips Pro Y Peeler; $10
Even the thickest-skinned winter squash doesn't stand a chance under the blade of a good vegetable peeler. We like to think of this tool as a seamless extension of the hand. It's steady, sharp and super-quick!

See more vegetable peeler picks

*Prices and other details were accurate when we published this article in September 2008.