Spice Up Your Fall
Spices were mostly an afterthought in my cooking until I began working at America’s Test Kitchen. I thought of them as dried powders in glass jars stuffed into one of our kitchen drawers, mostly to be used when I needed cinnamon for dessert or oregano for pizza. Over the past five years I’ve learned so much about how to purchase, store, organize, and utilize spices, and thus my cooking has improved greatly. My spice collection has expanded from 10 jars to dozens of aromatic, vibrant spices and blends. With the right combination of spices, even a salad can be transformed into a multidimensional masterpiece, and a well-stocked spice cabinet allows me to cook foods from some of my favorite cuisines at a moment's notice.
—Carolyn Grillo, Associate Editor, ATK Reviews
This sturdy flip-top salt box held plenty of salt and provided easy access to it, accommodating most testers’ hands. While somewhat vulnerable to humidity, this box was great at shielding salt from messes. It was a breeze to fill and clean and could be opened with one hand; a small handle made it convenient to lift for on-the-fly seasoning.
Adjusting this compact mill is easy: You simply slide a big plastic tab along a row of clearly marked grind sizes. It’s also a breeze to fill, thanks to a wide opening that’s about 2 inches across. We love that the pepper comes out of the top, because that keeps your countertop free of the peppercorn debris and dust that can fall out of other models. Thanks to the mill’s clear body, you can tell at a glance when it’s time to refill it.
BUY FOR $130
Our winning spoons had a simple design that allowed for a continuous, bump-free sweep, with a ball-chain connector (similar to what military dog tags hang on) that was easy to open and close. This set's metal construction felt remarkably sturdy, and ingredients didn't cling to the stainless steel. And while the 1-tablespoon measure did not fit into all spice jars, it was a minor inconvenience for an otherwise easy-to-use set.
This funnel had the longest spout in the lineup, nearly 2 inches, which made it feel securely anchored during use. Its spout was a tad narrower than ideal, but it still allowed foods and liquids to flow reasonably well—though the viscous barbecue sauce proved challenging. As with some other models, we learned that we could address flow issues by either slowing down our pour or tapping or shaking the funnel.
BUY FOR $4
Recommended with reservations
With a large area of sharp etched holes, our favorite rasp-style grater got the job of grating ginger done—just somewhat more slowly and a touch more wastefully than our top models. Its long, narrow shape was less ideal for handling bigger pieces of ginger and forced us to aim more carefully when grating. It was also harder to clean, since its curved edges trapped pockets of puree underneath.
If you grate ginger frequently, this is by far the best tool we've found for the job: It's speedy, easy to handle, and superefficient. With ample surface area and razor-sharp etched holes, this tool—made by the same company as our favorite box and rasp-style graters—was the least wasteful in our lineup. It also tied for fastest, making 1 tablespoon of puree in just 15 seconds. Its handle was comfortable to grip, and its wide paddle shape made it especially easy to collect ginger puree and to clean.
All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.