THE COOKING AT SEA SERIES

GALLEY BASICS...







 practical boat cook advice for every yacht and
                    boat owner

JUMP TO: COOKER / STOWAGE / POTS AND PANS / PRESSURE COOKERSCROCKERY / CUTLERY / UTENSILS / GLASSWARE / EXTRAS /oil /


Whether you are planning a long ocean passage or a day trip there are some basic essentials that really are needed in any galley.  If you've bought a pre-owned boat there is every chance that you have 'inherited' a lot of stuff that you don't want or need, and there will be some things that you will want or need.  So, let's take a look at the basics and work up from there.  Ensure that you have a crash bar fitted in front of your cooker that does not impede gimballing, and fit a galley belt.

THE BASICS

We will look at the above in more detail later.  But what about all those electrical items you're used to; food processor, electric whisk, toaster, kettle, the list goes on, and dare we say iron!  What about those cupboards full of crockery, a plate and bowl for every occasion, enough knives for a circus act - do we want them on board, need them, or even have space or power for them?  The answer is probably no.  Unless you are fortunate enough to have a particularly large boat or galley you will need to 'downsize', this does not mean going without.  Do you really need an electric can opener, the answer is no, and the coffee bean grinder?  Some might argue that it is an essential in life, but trying to grind coffee beans on a downwind passage might just send you searching for the instant! 


So, what stays and what goes?  Let's look at the few electrical 'luxuries' that even the most 'power poor' boat can handle.  

ELECTRICAL LUXURIES

ON PASSAGE

  • Electric whisk/Blender (200w)

If you like toast, then invest in a toaster, they will run off even the smallest of inverters.  An electric whisk/blender will make all the difference when it comes to sauces and soups, or even whizzing up hot chocolate.


AT ANCHOR

  • Electric whisk/Blender
  • Toaster
  • Microwave (800w)

Depending upon your inverter/power capabilities a microwave is a great investment.  Yes, they are power hungry, but only for a short length of time.  A lot of microwaves come with a grill, this is a great investment, however they are power hungry and normally a lot larger than a basic microwave.



IN HARBOR

  • Electric whisk/blender
  • Toaster
  • Electric Kettle
  • Electric hob
  • Microwave 
  • Electric grill/oven
  • Slow cooker
  • Coffee maker
  • The list goes on...
  • And yes, finally, the IRON!

How much space do you have?  If stowage is not a problem, invest in a few electrical items.  They make life so much easier, will save gas, that you might have problems locating locally, and really do allow you to broaden your horizons in the galley.  Not everyone likes to iron, but there are some occasions that owning one might come in handy. (Some of the crew here are currently shaking their heads!)


So, the electricals are now sorted, what about everything else?  Just how many plates do you need, and what size?  At this point, the question needs to be asked, plastic/polycarbonate, or porcelain/china?  If you are clumsy at home, don't think it will be any better on board and you might want to think about polycarbonate.  China has always been our way to go.  Eating from a proper plate, somehow enhances the meal.  Of course, when it's rough there is nothing better than eating straight out of the pan, which is why learning the rudiments of one pot meals can be so important.  Let's look at the basics...


THE BASICS

COOKER / STOWAGE / POTS AND PANS / PRESSURE COOKERS / CROCKERY / CUTLERY / UTENSILS


Cooker

Marine cookers are a huge investment, if you are looking to replace your existing cooker then take your time.  Just how much cooking do you really do?  Do you need 2, 3 or 4 burners?  Do you need a grill?  A lot of 3 burner cookers have the problem of not gimballing properly.  The burners do not sit in the middle, thus when a pan is on the stove top it is either at the front or the back, this can lead to spillages and accidents. 

Stowage

Where does it all go?  As was said above, 'downsizing' does not mean going without.  It is very important to have everyday items to hand when on passage, when the cooker is swinging back and forth, you really don't want to have to lean over a boiling pan to reach the salt and pepper.  There are many sets of pots and pans that stack, this is a great space saver, but can be annoying when you want the one in the middle.  Don't scrimp on the quality of plastic containers, good quality containers will last a life time, and should not split.  Take a look at the cupboards that they will be going into and work out how many you need, again, trying to get the one out of the middle without disturbing the rest is an art form, therefore put less frequently used items at the bottom.  If you are not using your fridge/freezer on passage use it for storage of dried goods such as rice and pasta.  It may be sensible to put the plates and bowls that you know you will use on passage in one area. 

Pots and Pans

How many and what size do you need?  A good quality deep sided frying pan is a must.  If possible get one with a lid.  A set of three pans should be sufficient for even the busiest cook (again with lids).

Pressure Cookers

A pressure cooker is one thing no boat should be without.  Price does not always mean best here.  Pressure cookers have come a long way over the years asthetically, but the principle is still the same.  A heavy based stainless steel pressure cooker with a simple 'take off/put on' weight is the best way to go.  Pressure cookers save time, gas and water, some foods even taste better cooked in one.

Crockery

Porcelain

Gone are the days of chipped china or plastic picnic plates adorning the galley.  Prices for good quality, long lasting china have made it possible for everyone to have a good matching set on board.  If you really do think that you might break one or two, then go for white, no matter where you are in the world you will always replace them.

If porcelain is not for you, then what are the other choices?


Vitrelle Glass 

A bit more expensive than porcelain, but worth it.  They are chip, break, stain & scratch resistant, and oven safe.


Polycarbonate
Some people refer to this as 'posh plastic'.  Virtually unbreakable, apart from the bank.  Polycarbonate does scratch, and can crack, it wont take long before it doesn't look quite so new.

Plastics

Plastic picnic sets cost very little, nowadays come in all shapes and sizes and can always be used for what they were intended for - picnics!

Cutlery

The marine environment is hard on everything, cutlery included.  No one likes eating with rusty knives and forks, buying good quality stainless steel is a worth while investment, and taking care to rinse all items thoroughly with fresh water if using sea water to wash up.

Utensils

You really dont need draws and draws full of knives, potato mashers, ladles etc...  A good quality large knife, a filleting knife and a paring knife should be sufficient.  Potato peelers make like easier, a few large serving spoons/ladles is all that is needed both on the stove top and the table.  A couple of wooden or bamboo spoons,  a hand whisk and a fish slice should then be all that is needed to finish. 

Glassware

It's always nice to drink from good quality glassware, however bare feet and broken glass don't make good friends.  Polycarbonate glassware is a great idea, but can be expensive.  If you are prone to dropping things buy polycarbonate, if not, and you also don't mind picking up broken glass, look for strong, heavy bottomed glasses.  Polycarbonate glasses will scratch and lose their clarity over time.

There will always be a few more things that you will want to make life more comfortable, and it's amazing just how little time it takes to fill up all your cupboards.