Surprisingly Handy Tool: A Pastry Brush

When we mentioned using our pastry brush to clean our coffee grinder, we called it a "rarely-used" kitchen tool. But the more we thought about it, the more we realize how often this little paintbrush comes in handy!

Besides brushing the coffee grinds out of all the nooks and crannies in our grinder, here are a few more ways our pastry brush gets used:

Basting Meats - We don't actually own a turkey baster, so we use this brush instead. The bristles do a great job of soaking up pan juices and distributing them over the roasting meat.

Adding Glazes - Along those same lines, a pastry brush is our must-have tool for brushing richly flavored glazes over foods right at the end of cooking - be it ribs, baked tofu, or Thanksgiving turkey!

Working with Sugar - We keep a pastry brush and a little bowl of water handy whenever we're boiling sugar to make any kind of candy. We use it to brush down the sides of the pan so sugar crystals don't form that might keep the sugar from melting properly.

Brushing Butter - We like brushing the tops of dinner rolls and pies with a little melted butter or egg-wash before putting them in the oven to give the crust a lovely golden color. A pastry brush helps us get an even layer with no drips.

Soaking Cakes with Syrup - Some cakes, like fruit cake and pound cake, are improved by saturating them with flavored syrup after baking. Once again, a pastry brush is the right tool for the job.

Maybe we don't use our pastry brush every day, but it definitely deserves a place in our drawers. Look for brushes with real bristles (that look like a paint brush). We've tried silicone brushes, but they don't hold the liquid nearly as well or coat the food as evenly.

What other ways do you use your pastry brush?

Related: Ten Most Useless Kitchen Gadgets

(Image: Emma Christensen)