Raw Food Equipment, Appliances,
and Pantry Items You'll Need
As you might imagine, the equipment you use with raw food is a bit different from what you use in a regular kitchen. For example, you don't need a stove or a microwave, because you won't be cooking anything.
There are actually numerous raw food appliances that make preparation easier, but only a few are truly essential. On this page you will find a list of the basic raw food equipment you will need as well as a raw foods list of items you might want to gather for your pantry.
Being a vegan is very rewarding and even more so when you make your meals raw as often as possible. Of course, when you are busy it can be quite a challenge because raw organic ingredients are less available and the preparation in raw recipes can sometimes appear daunting.
Not to worry - it is definitely not as hard as it might seem at first! It just takes a bit of mental adjustment, and the recognition that you might need to plan ahead a bit more. Planning ahead can be difficult for some people, but it is actually one of the best ways to avoid becoming overwhelmed when you are very busy.
Don't put off eating raw because you don't have all this equipment. I worked with a couple of knives and a beat up old blender to begin with and started adding appliances as I became more adventurous.
The best chef knife for any raw food preparation will vary from person to person depending on individual preferences and personal style, but it should be of good quality. Make sure you have some kind of sharpener as well, to make your work as clean and quick as possible. Other knives you might want to have on hand include a paring knive and a larger, chopping blade - this is particularly useful for opening coconuts!
This piece of raw food equipment is essential for, well...just about everything! Many of the ingredients in raw recipes need to be mixed or broken down a bit in order to achieve the right consistency for the recipe. A really good blender will easily be able to whip nuts into a creamy smooth custard or dough, easily blend sauces, and break down frozen ingredients for fabulous smoothies. I personally use and highly recommend the Blendtec Blender - it is without question the best on the market.
This appliance is one of the indispensIble pieces of raw food equipment, and it's pretty essential for making regular vegan recipes too. I use it with almost every recipe I make. I would recommend one with a larger capacity, anywhere from 11 to 14 cups. This will easily accomodate some of the larger mixtures, particularly those involving nuts.
One of the first items we think of when raw food equipment is mentioned - The basic premise in raw cooking is that heating foods above 115° farenheit destroys the enzymes in the food that our body needs. This doesn't mean that we can't get nutrition from cooked foods, it just makes more work for our bodies, which must break down the inert enzymes in the cooked food and then rebuild them into enzymes again. Think about it. If your body is doing this extra work 3 to 5 times a day over weeks, months and years that gets to be a lot of extra work! And the price of that over-time labor is that we age faster and get sick more often. But we still want the benefits of cooking - namely that the consistency of what we put into the oven changes into something more palatable.
Enter the dehydrator - a unique member of the raw food equipment line-up. The dehydrator allows you to dehydrate fruits, nuts and "pie-crusts" among things. It is particularly useful with nuts that must first be saoked to release enzymes. They can then be dehydrated to make them more crisp for use in granola and crumble desserts. I highly recommend the Excalibur Food Dehydrator with 5 trays. If you're serious about raw food, then this appliance makes a big difference, especially for creating "grab-and-go" munchables.
This is great for creating "spaghetti" noodles out of zucchini. It also lets you create decorative veggie slices and garnishes. There are several nice electric spiralizers, but I find my simple hand-cranked machine works very well and was quite inexpensive.
Although a high-speed blender like the Blendtec or the Vitamix can certainly grind vegetables and fruits into delicious juices, the most effective way to get just the juice is to use a dual-extraction juicer that quickly and efficiently seperates the juice from the pulp. There are different types of juicers for different purposes. I would recommend a simple electric citrus juicer as well as a high-powered fruit and vegetable juicer.
Crisp leafy greens are the foundation of any great salad! It is very important to wash all leafy greens thoroughly before using them. The best way to dry them off well so they will last a few days, is to use a salad spinner. Washed lettuce and spinach will keep well in a Ziploc bag if you press all the air out before closing. Alterantively you can store them in a vacuum-seal system like the Zepter VacSy.
Sprouting Jars or an Automatic Sprouter
This is another essential piece of raw food equipment to help you get the most out of eating raw. Although most legumes and nuts contain lots of protein and nutrients, they need to be "unlocked" in order to make them palatable as raw foods and maximize their nutritional potential. The best way to acces this potential is to use a sprouting jar to sprout legumes and to ferment nuts to make nut cheeses (yum!). I would recommend starting with a few jars and seeing how you do. When you get the hang of it and are really ready to commit, you can get an automatic sprouter that will allow you to easily rotate your sprouts so you can have a steady supply.
Ice Cream Maker
Okay, I admit that this one is not essential! But it's so much fun! You can make all kinds of yummy raw ice-creams with nut bases or with coconut milk - either way they are fabulous! The Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker is your best bet. It's very affordable and the cannister is large enough to make a really good-sized batch of your favorite flavor. Check out some great raw vegan ice cream recipes on the Vegan Ice Cream or Raw Food Desserts pages.
To make the best of your raw experience, it's best to have a few pantry items on hand. These items are not for any specific recipe, but tend to be used in many raw food recipes.
Try to have at least three types of leafy greens on-hand for smoothie and salad making - For the best green smoothie blender, see the Blendtec page. Kale and spinach are good to have around all the time, but it's good to vary your greens. Try dandelion greens, arugula, parsely, mustard greens (but only a little at a time - They've got quite a kick!), carrot greens, beet greens, and collard greens. Have a little fun browsing the produce aisle and see what intrigues you!
It is important to emphasize that raw nuts are unpasteurized nuts, which most grocery stores do not carry. In 2007 California passed a lot mandating the pasteurization of nuts which has made things more difficult for raw foodists. You can buy raw almonds and walnuts in small expensive bags at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, but to get them in larger quantities you must go online. You can get raw nuts at sunfood.com - David Wolfe's store, at D & S Ranches, or at Living Tree Community Foods.
Most commonly used are sunflower seeds, which grind into a nice "flour" for raw breads, and sesame seeds which add a rich flavor to savory dishes.
This tasty soy sauce is made from unpasteurized fermented soy - the only way to really access the goodies in soy is to ferment it. It's in almost every savory raw recipe.
Raw Pitted Dates
Dates are one of the most common ingredients in raw desserts. You can keep them around just to munch on when you're craving something sweet!
The most commonly used oils in raw cooking are flax oil and expeller-pressed extra virgin olive oil. These are an essential part of your basic raw food equipment and pantry.
Balsamic and organic apple cider vinegar are generally the favored vinegars of raw foodists. Organic apple cider vinegar has a lovely flavor and helps to create a more alkaline body pH.
Oat and buckwheat groats a frequently used in raw granolas or to make raw oatmeal, which is great with some almond milk, agave nectar, and raisins!
Perfect for soup or to flavor the savory recipes. Miso is fermented soy that retains all its essential enzymes. Mellow white miso is the most commonly used.
This raw food equipment and pantry list may seem overwhelming, so don't try to run out and buy everything at once! If you are interested in making the switch to raw, start simply and try it for 30 days. As you get used to raw living, you can add more raw food equipment and supplies to your kitchen.