Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Garnishing Tools

Most cocktails are garnished with wedges, wheels, curls, peels, leaves, flowers, chunks of food, drizzles, sprinkles and even gold and silver leaves, if I don´t write this blog fast enough they might even use edible play doh. Now for most of them the only tools needed might be a pairing knife a channel knife and a micro plane. Now, let´s start with a comprehensive list of things needed to create the most beautiful garnishes in the world, grrrr...

Garnishing Tools

Paring/Kitchen Knife
Small knife ideal for peeling fruits and vegetables or other works that might require a little more precision, but sometimes a kitchen knife too would help with larger fruits like pineapples. Considered a paring knife a basic tool in the kitchen, it is ideal to have at a bar. The blade is usually shorter than the handle, to allow better grip. Its blade´s length oscillates from 2.5 to 4 inches, and it is basically a chef´s knife but miniature.since its tip is pointy, that allows to create patterns, shapes and holes with detail. You usually don´t need a cutting board since the practical handle allows maximum control. I recommend you to read about kitchen knifes in general and get familiar with them.

Citrus Knife
I don´t really think this is a must for any bar, Seriously. But some people I know, might feel release and at ease knowing that they can find a knife especially design to cut citrus (Lemon, Limes, Grapefruits and Oranges). It´s completely serrated edge can easily manage to cut through thick peels. Particularly handy when cutting lime/lemon wedges  or when halving them.

Cutting/Chopping Board
A must nowadays in any bar to use as a cutting surface, easy washable to avoid any bacterial contamination while processing food. The most common materials are bamboo, rubber, and plastic. Durable materials are used in boards. In the bar environment it is uncommon to use boards to cut raw meat and other foods in the same boards, but in such cases it is advisable to have a separate board for meat only.

Channel Knife
These tools are used for garnishing only. It is a short metallic tip with a non-sharped edge, with a handle quite similar to the one found in paring knifes. In its metallic tip you will find a sharp v-shaped edge that is slightly projected onwards. The purpose of this projected v shaped is to dent a hole in the peel of citric fruits and create long and thin perfect twist of citric peels. sometimes a Zester and a Channel Knife will be found on the same tool.

There are 3 main types of peelers, The Y shaped with the blade perpendicular to the handle, the Lancashire that is basically an extension of the handle with a sharp, and the Australian, this one supports both the the tip and the base of a swiveling metallic piece that sports two facing blades in the middle of it. Either dtype is design to remove the outer layer of skin or peel from the fruit/vegetable. Again, Nothing that a pairing knife can do, but certainly might facilitate the process.

With a similar shape than a Channel Knife, a Zester as its name suggests, does help to create long thing zest ribbons, separating them from the pith underneath the skin. Since zesters have 3 to 5 holes in its tips, you will get as many ribbons as holes this knife has.
Personally I prefer zesters over microplanes, since they perfectly separate the citrus zest and not the white bitter pit.

Micro plane
They have a wide variety of uses, grating, zesting, shaving and cutting fingers!!, they are basically photo etched steel tools for grating. Extremely sharp, but safer than the old style graters, because the long handle makes it easier to control.and since it is a sharper toot, it requires less strength to do a similar job. Use microplanes for zesting citrus, grating sea salt or volcanic salt rocks, and shaving chocolate to rim glasses.

A metallic kitchen utensil used to grate or shaved fruits, vegetables or hardened food. Several types of graters boast different sizes of grating slots, and can therefore aid in the preparation of a variety of foods. They are commonly used to grate chocolate, cheese, lemon or orange peel.If you own a micro plane you probably won´t use a grater.

Everybody knows what a lighter is, especially those of you who are/were smokers or boys/girl scouts. A portable device, metallic or plastic, with a flammable fluid or gas that will ignite when a spark is generated, that has some mechanism to extinguish the flame.In a bar environment is used to caramelized the oils of an orange peel by flaming it over a drink, and then rubbing the flamed peel over the edge of the glass.

Kitchen Scissors/Shears
 Like regular scissors, they have two sharp blades attached to a pair of handles with openings to fit your fingers through, the handles are usually slip-proof. The advantage?, cutting something from two different angles. Kitchen scissors have the pivoting point farther from the handles than other scissors. Modern cocktails are using cutouts made of edible paper or edible films that can be cut using stencils or kitchen scissors. In a hurry, if you run out of short straws, kitchen scissors will be handy to cut the long ones short.

Squeeze/Mold Painter bottles
 Believe me, when you make your own bitters, or even if you are drizzling your chilled glasses with any jam, ice cream topping syrup, thick home made syrup or chocolate, this item will be a must in your bar. Squeeze bottles are very cheap and easy to find. I recommend that you open the tip with a hot needle or even a hot nail, to make the holes very small, instead of cutting the tip with your kitchen scissors, It will make the drizzle lines more thin but precise. Be sure to purchase caps for your bottles.