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Essential Kitchen Tools for the Harvest

By Ann Whitman

Preparing fresh herbs, vegetables and fruits for tonight's supper or preserving them for later use is faster and easier with the right tools. We've assembled some of our favorite, most indispensible tools for using and keeping the harvest, whether it's a bouquet of fragrant basil from the patio planter, plump garlic bulbs, crisp apples, or a basket of juicy, ripe tomatoes from the backyard.

SLIDESHOW: See how it works.

Garlic Press and Slicer: Minced garlic is an essential ingredient in salad dressings, sauces and soups, but the chopping and cleanup are slow and messy. Make room in your kitchen drawer for a simple tool that gets the job done with ease and grace. When a recipe calls for minced or sliced garlic, just drop peeled garlic cloves into the Garlic Press and Slicer and squeeze the handles. Voilà! Sprinkle sliced raw garlic on pizza or sauté in olive oil and serve over mashed potatoes or tuck into an omelet. Cleanup is a cinch, either by hand or in the dishwasher, and the sturdy all-metal construction lasts a lifetime.

Garlic Roaster: Sweet, luscious roasted garlic spread on fresh French bread, tossed with olive oil and pasta, or dabbed on grilled steak is an easy-to-make treat with a cast iron Garlic Roaster. To make roasted garlic, slice the top off a head of garlic to expose the tops of the cloves, drizzle in some olive oil and a shake of salt and pepper. Put the Roaster in the oven at 400 degree F for 45 to 60 minutes or set it right into your charcoal or gas grill. When the garlic is done, slip the bulb into the heatproof silicone sleeve and squeeze to extract the savory spread. Yum!

Pull Cord Chopper: Love the convenience of a food processor, but not the time-consuming cleanup? Keep kitchen prep simple and efficient with a Pull Chopper. A few pulls on the cord yields garden-fresh salsa from tomatoes, onions, chilies and cilantro. Or use it to chop nuts and herbs. Sharp stainless blades can puree soups, sauces and baby food, too. The more you pull, the finer the chop.

Pesto Cubes: A customer and staff favorite for so many delicious and handy reasons! We use them for freezing small portions of pesto, sauces and herbs. Slim, spill-proof and BPA-free, they're also perfect for lunchboxes, leftovers and baby food. Watching your portion size? The 4 oz. cube holds a single serving of rice, beans, vegetables or meat. For quick sautés and omelets, keep one filled with chopped onions and slip it into the veggie crisper. Herbs, including basil, cilantro, chives, parsley, dill, mint, lemongrass and tarragon keep their fresh summer flavor and color better when frozen. Simply wash and pat dry, remove coarse stems, chop and pack firmly into Pesto Cubes. For a festive flair, freeze whole mint leaves in water and float in a holiday punch.

SLIDESHOW: See how it works.

Food Dehydrator: Preserve seasonal fruits, herbs and garden veggies and store them for months without refrigeration. Save money by making homemade raisins, dried blueberries, peaches and apple rings for granola and trail mix. Fill your spice rack with dehydrated onion flakes, chili peppers, herbs and garlic powder. Dry your own tomatoes for gourmet meals. For a hearty stew, mix up a recipe of dried carrots, corn, onions, celery, potatoes, leeks, garlic and herbs and stir into a pot of steaming broth on a cold winter night. Use dried, grated carrots to whip up a quick carrot cake for dessert. Dehydrated food stays fresh for months in glass jars or vacuum-sealed bags.