The golden rule: If it's dull, blunt or smells weird, it's time to replace it.
It's okay to admit it, your kitchen contains tools, utensils, cookware and even seasonings that are past their prime. While some items, like knives and cast iron, can be restored, others simply need to be replaced and soon, like yesterday. We asked members of the Food & Wine Test Kitchen for their tips on which kitchen items need to be replaced regularly and what to look for when debating if they are salvageable or not. Here are the 13 kitchen items that you probably need to replace ASAP.
“Serrated knives can’t be sharpened so once you’re feeling some resistance when slicing with one, you need to replace it,” says Test Kitchen Assistant, Kelsey Youngman.
“You can’t sharpen microplanes and after a while, they get really dull,” says David McCann, another member of the test kitchen. “The day that you’re working too hard with one, it’s done.”
Wooden Cutting Board
“Wooden cutting boards will last forever if they’re cared for correctly,” says McCann. “However, that includes washing, drying and keeping them well-oiled. If you don't take care of them properly, they'll split or warp.”
“If they start to smell or they become threadbare, it’s time to toss your kitchen towels,” says McCann. “If you wash them regularly, though, kitchen towels can last you a while,” adds Deputy Test Kitchen Editor Justin Chapple. “I have some towels that I’ve had for 15 years and they still work great.”
“Wooden spoons will eventually crack, even if you care for them really well,” says Chapple. “And then once they crack, you have to replace them.”
“The minute that you smell anything on a sponge that you don’t enjoy smelling, pitch it,” says McCann. “You can microwave sponges too, or put them through the dishwasher if yours sanitizes,” adds Youngman.
"You definitely need to replace your pastry brushes regularly," says Chapple. "When the bristles start to fall out and are really dirty or greasy, you gotta pitch 'em out."
“When your peeler gets dull or it breaks from overuse, get a new one,” says Chapple. “Also, since Y-peelers are often carbon steel, they’ll last longer and hold their edge, but you have to dry them immediately after washing them or else they’ll rust,” adds Youngman.
“You have to replace your spices, you can’t just use them until they’re dead,” says Chapple. “Spices will last about three months if they’re ground and up to six months if they’re whole,” adds Youngman. “Also, you should really buy organic spices whenever possible because conventional spices are irradiated when they’re imported into the country and that kills everything that gives the spices flavor."
“Oil should be stored in dark glass and in a cool, dark area or even in the fridge,” says Youngman. “If it’s cold pressed oil, it will go rancid quickly. If it’s highly refined oil like canola, it’ll have a longer shelf life. However, those are so refined that it can be hard to tell when they go bad.”
Baking Soda & Baking Powder
“You should store your flour in the freezer, especially whole wheat flour,” says Youngman. “The fat in the flour will eventually go rancid, so make sure to keep an eye on it.”