Thomas H. Ptacek

You Need Deli Cups

Deli cups are one of mankind’s greatest inventions, and also one of the most important kitchen tools. But most of my friends don’t have any, or, if they do, they don’t have enough. You need all of them.

You don’t want, like, five of them. You want a box of hundreds. Never to be without them. There are two important species, the squat 16oz and the taller 24oz. You should have both, but push to shove, the 16’s are more versatile. Shop around on Amazon and you’ll find a couple hundred for $40 or so.

What’s the use of a deli cup? What isn’t the use of a deli cup?

  • A deli cup is a rigid zip-loc bag. Anything you’d put in a zip can go in a deli. For obvious reasons, liquids (soup, sauces, oils) work far better in delis than zips. But almost everything else is just as happy in a deli as in a zip, too. Delis are smaller than zips. That’s a good thing! A 16oz deli stores a humane portion for one person. Most people don’t re-use zips (I don’t either). Delis give you /optionality/: you can clean them out and put them back on the stack, or, if you’re cleaning out the back of your fridge, just chuck them in the recycling.
  • A deli cup is a cup. Imagine having no other kind of cup. It’s easy if you try.
  • A small stack of deli cups makes an ideal /mise en place/. Fuck ramekins.
  • Deli cups are pickling jars for fridge pickles.
  • Deli cups hold sugar, kosher salt, and bulk spices. The tall ones are big enough to hold a meaningful amount of flour or cornmeal.
  • Measure out the dry ingredients for biscuits or muffins or whatever. Several batches. Each in its own deli. Weeks of biscuits and muffins with no effort.
  • Strain fryer oil (through 2 sheets of paper towel) into a 24oz deli. I wasted so much oil before delis.
  • As luck would have it, a 24oz deli is almost exactly the perfect shape to make stick blender mayo or hollandaise. Egg yolk, salt, couple tbsps liquid, then whir while pouring oil or butter in. Foolproof.
  • 24oz delis are tall enough to store pens and pencils.
  • You could plant in delis. Erin says you’ll have to punch holes in the bottom. Small stack of garden delis.
  • A 16oz deli will store electronic parts.
  • Paint.

I honestly don’t understand why there is tupperware.

Having a practically limitless supply of deli cups is life-changing. Anybody can afford them. I would cook over sterno for a year before I gave up delis.

You need deli cups.