Photo: Cambro
Rec RoomHearty recommendations from The Takeout staff.  

When I started regularly baking sourdough bread last year, I realized just how messy a hobby bread-making can be. Because a sourdough starter needs to be fed and maintained each day, flour flew and dough smeared constantly around my kitchen. Failure to immerse a dough-covered utensil in water less than four seconds after usage turns that goo to something like concrete, which sticks stubbornly to a bowl or spoon. (I’m pretty sure ancient Romans could have built the aqueducts out of this stuff.) I was sick of all my mixing bowls being tied up for bread making, so a few months ago I finally sprung for two, 6-quart plastic Cambro tubs. Now I can’t believe I didn’t buy these sooner.

They’re larger and easier to clean than my regular mixing bowls (Cambro-brand ones are dishwasher-, refrigerator-, and microwave-safe), and at about $8 each, they’re well worth having around for all types of kitchen tasks. I’ve used them to hold giant batches of spaetzle or pasta for a crowd; to batch cocktails for a party; to transport tomatoes from my backyard garden when they’re in season; and I have a vision of marinating some giant piece of meat in there, too. Plastic tubs are basically unbreakable, so I stack them, drop them, and generally toss them around with abandon. I can’t say that of my mixing bowls.

Cambro tub, with sourdough starter
Photo: Kate Bernot

For bread baking, though, they’re a must. If you’re storing your sourdough starter or mixing your dough in an opaque bowl, you can’t see the CO2 the yeast are creating like you can in a clear tub. I love being able to glance at the Cambro-cradled starter on a kitchen shelf and see the happy yeast creating vigorous, plentiful bubbles. The volume markings clearly show when my dough has doubled in size, so I know exactly when it’s ready to divide into loaves.

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The only negative reviews I’ve read of the Cambro tubs mention that they are not BPA-free, but Cambro tells me the particular tub I have actually is free of BPA. Regardless, I can’t stress enough how much you need a Cambro tub in your kitchen. You could even make me jealous and spring for the 22-quart model.