Top Ten Tools of the Trade for a Raw Kitchen

Taking dried tomato slices off a dehydrator shelf
Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

Are you feeling the urge to experiment with a raw foods diet? Perhaps you've heard about the glowing skin, hydration, increased energy and vitality, and general sense of well-being reported by raw food enthusiasts. Before you go running for the produce department, you will want to be sure your kitchen is feeling well adjusted to such a radical lifestyle adjustment. When it comes to ease and success in raw food preparation, a well-stocked kitchen makes all the difference.

1. Knives

A good sharp knife is every chef's first mate in the kitchen. Though most household knife sets have several shapes and sizes there are two knives that you'll use over and over again: an eight-inch chef knife and a 3- to 4-inch paring knife. It is worth noting that ceramic knives are ideal for most raw food kitchens. They are lightweight, which is a huge relief for your wrist, and most importantly, they stay sharp for months and even years. Keep your good knives in good company with good cutting boards.

2. Blender

Vital for making good healthful foods, blenders turn out smoother, more refined sauces, smoothies, raw nut cheeses and raw nut milks. Powerful high-speed blenders are the best choice for making raw foods and they even make raw whole juices. If you aren't ready to invest in one of those yet, an Osterizer is your best commercial brand.

3. Food Processor

The good thing about food processors is that you probably know a handful of people that have one and never use it. Borrow theirs while you figure out whether or not you are willing to invest in one yourself. Eventually, you will see how useful they are in making shredded salads, raw food pates, puddings and all manner of raw food desserts that you will want your own gorgeous shiny machine

Some of the cheap food processors can do a decent job. They also come in mini sizes which are fabulous for smaller projects or making food for one or two people. Don't forget to experiment with the grater and slicer attachments to see what they can do for you.

4. Mandoline

These handy devices slice, julienne, and shred vegetables so quickly, decoratively, and with so much ease. They earn their place in the top 10 list for their ability to turn zucchinis and other raw vegetables into noodles. A less common tool called a spiralizer (also called a spiral slicer or a saladacco can also be used to turn vegetables into long curly noodles, salad toppings or garnishes.

5. Juicer

Turning fresh nutritious fruits and vegetables into juice not only creates great beverages but also makes a flavorful addition to raw soup stock, sauces, and marinades. A citrus juicer is another indispensable tool in the raw food kitchen. Though you can juice citrus in any juicer, citrus juicers are smaller, much easier to clean, and don't require that you peel the fruit.

6. Fine Mesh Strainers

Though many raw food recipes call for straining milks, cheeses, or sauces through a cheesecloth, fine mesh strainers do a nice job in much less time and with less mess. Have fun experimenting with both techniques.

7. Dehydrator

Nothing says commitment to raw food like purchasing a dehydrator. These machines are invaluable to a raw foodist for dehydrating seed crackers, granolas, fresh fruits and vegetables and for heating up food just enough to give it a softer, sauteed texture.

Once you get rolling, you'll find myriad uses for it. Make sure yours comes with some Teflex sheets or other non-stick pads to lay over the mesh trays. These make dehydrating a breeze and they clean up quickly.

8. Glass Jars

Great for storage of dry goods and prepared foods, glass jars come in most handy for fermenting foods. Raw nut cheeses, raw kim chi, sauerkraut and other pro-biotic raw foods are fermented and stored using glass or ceramic jars. Sprouting jars with their fine mesh caps also commonly make their appearance in the raw food kitchen. Sprouts are a great source of nutrients as well as anti-oxidants and sprouting them is simple.

9. Spice Grinder

Also known as coffee grinders, these tools double as a great way to grind up fresh spices or small amounts of seeds or nuts. Ground flax seeds are a common ingredient in raw food cuisine and fresh ground spices are highly prized over pre-ground spices.

10. Accoutrements

Measuring spoons and cups, rubber spatulas, a zester, tongs, kitchen scissors and a basting brush are but a few of the accoutrements that make your life in the kitchen that much easier and more enjoyable. Add to your collection little by little.

Starting with just a cutting board and knife, your creativity will expand with every addition to your arsenal of raw food kitchen tools, and the reward for your efforts will be a whole new horizon in health and vitality.