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The best kitchen gadgets

I'm thinking of writing a blog post  on excellent kitchen gadgets and I'd like to pick the hive mind.

So far I would rate:

A mechanical apple peeler
A bread maker (capable of jam and compote)
A slow cooker
A hand held blender/liquidiser ( the type you can plunge into a pan and means you don't dirty a liquidizer
A lemon juicer which drains into an integrated glass jug

And my least favourite gadgets
The Whizzy Whisk

And suggestions?

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sort of a tangent, but how about something on basic stuff like, say, good knives and pans? I'd be interested to know what you and others think.

I've just bought a mechanical apple peeler for next year...

Agree very much about the lemon juicer (mine's metal, but the drainer is the crucial bit).

I really love my flat silicone whisk. Think I got it from Lakeland, but they don't seem to sell it any more. But it's a brilliantly simple idea because it means you can get right into the corners and scrape stuff up from the bottom of the pan, and it's fine for non-stick.

I love my potato ricer. I'm often too exhausted to mash potatoes properly, but they're always lovely (and not wallpaper paste-y) if I put them through the ricer.

Definitely yes on bread maker - don't think I've used any others on your list apart from the hand blender, and not in years for that. I'm a pretty basic sort of cook.

Having said that, I'd rate sandwich makers as an obnoxious nuisance (greasy and disgusting), microwaves ovens as well-nigh essential, ditto toasters, kettles.

What else do I have...

Popcorn maker (hot air type) - works and is low fat but microwaved with a drop of oil tastes nicer.

Steamer - used it about three times, it's just more trouble than it's worth.

Ice cream maker - good if you have the patience to come up with recipes that work for you.

Grater with a plastic catch box - really useful.

I _love_ my ceramic knives.

And the recent ceramic frying pan I got is fantastic too - amazingly non-stick and easy to clean.

Also: The Tea Tool. Makes it so much easier to stir tea and remove tea bags without making any mess, ever.

Edit: Forgot the mesh sheet. Amazing for cooking things in the oven, because you don't have to turn them or worry about uneven cooking. Cheap too.

Edited at 2013-10-20 07:18 pm (UTC)

A hand blender is pretty much essential; we have a nifty one that also doubles as a mini food processor (bowl attachment that is good for finely chopping onions and other veg so that small children can't pick them out of dishes).

The handpresso espresso machine that I was bought last Christmas has been a wonder (looks like a bike pump, makes good coffee).

Not overly keen on electric lemon juicers (I use a hand reamer, when I use something other than my hands). I can see why a mechanical apple peeler might be useful (if I was making large quantities of chutney), but I don't really have the need.

I don't make bread that often, and when I do I like using my hands. Not convinced by bread makers, not least because the bread that I've had that's been made with them doesn't seem to have proved for long enough or been kneaded well enough to really develop some character.

Oh, and the best knife we have is a second hand 8" Sabatier that I reclaimed from a dumpster of stuff that the students in Bath had left behind. Keeps a beautiful edge (better than our other Sabatier).

A pressure cooker. Not that I cook but I have noted that since Alan got his he has found it incredibly useful for all sorts of things.

Lemon zester.

The mash attachment for my food processor, which is like an effortless ricer.

Electric veg peeler, saves my hands and also produces ribbons from courgettes, mooli, and other penis shaped vegetables.

Very very old hand-held rechargable electric whisk. Doesn't liquidise but does make excellent gravy and custard. Also no trailing cables.

What did I ship from England? A handful of favourite pans; knives from Germany and Japan; the wooden spoons I love; a grain mill and a pasta maker, both hand-cranked; a big granite pestle and mortar. And the potato ricer, oh yes.

The wedding-present list of essentials to be replaced started with a chopping-board. (I have a thesis that says if you have the best knife you can afford, a means of keeping it sharp and a board to work on, you have all the gadgetry you really need.) I love the blades on the Microplane grater, though the box frame - as ever - is disintegrating.

The big purchase-indulgence so far has been a vintage KitchenAid mixer, which is a boon and a blessing for baking, to a man with RSI in his hands.

I came here to say Microplane graters too!

My hand blender is an ancient Braun one, and after more than 20 years of heavy abuse the bearings on the little chopper part have gone. I will probably replace it with a grey import as they are no longer sold in the UK and every hand blender on Amazon has a little sprinkling of reviews that say 'everyone seems to like this, but I got this to replace my ancient Braun and it's just not as good...'

In fact, I'm a big fan of ancient kitchenware generally. My stand mixer is a 70s Kenwood Chef, and it's fantastic. Stand mixers are one of those things that a lot of people get without really needing them, and I managed perfectly well without one for my first 25 years of regular cooking. But there comes a point if you're baking regularly when it really helps.

My slow cooker is a 70s Swan too. Old slow cookers really are better because newer ones tend to have a higher minimum temperature and so cook faster.

Every time this discussion comes up I say that I love this pan. I use it for everything really.

I use a mandoline but have heard too many A&E horror stories to really be able to recommend them. My knife work is better now so I often find myself just chopping with knives anyway. I use Global knives but knives are very personal. I'm short and have small hands so I often use knives a size smaller than their 'official' use.

Le Creuset pans I think are really a bit heavy for me, but I adore their gratin dishes. Irritatingly, they no longer make cast iron ones, which was sort of the point. So once again, it's eBay for the second hand stuff.

Also in cast iron, I have one of those ridged grill pans that put stripes on your food. I find it very good for quickly making indifferent bits of chicken look as if they've been barbecued.

I like the poundland version of bake-o-glide. It definitely doesn't last as long but that means you feel much more comfortable about cutting it up for different uses.

I have a really fantastic muffin tin where the cups are silicone but the structure is metal so it doesn't flop. It's Tefal, and like so many things Tefal, it's no longer available.

And finally, I have one completely outrageous unitasking gadget; it's a Tefal Crepe Party that makes six mini crepes. You put it in the middle of your dining table and make tiny pancakes for everyone without having to stand at the stove. As homemade crumpets are the Plokta food of the month I'm wondering whether I can also use it for that.

Rice cooker - for those who eat rice in industrial quantities like we do, anyway. Measure rice, measure water, press button, go away, come back to cooked rice.

Modern ones can double as a steamer - and I have my eye on one of those when our current model gives up the ghost. However, since's it's only the second one we've had in the twenty-eight years we've been together, and if memory serves the first one lasted at least fifteen, I don't imagine that'll be any time soon.

Our slow cooker was a wedding present in 1989 and is still going strong. Had to replace the pressure cooker which was also a wedding present year before last. Both get plenty of use in this household.

A good quality stand mixer, which in practice means either Kenwood or KitchenAid.

I'm very fond of my garlic crusher, which not only crushes garlic well but also gets the smell of garlic and onion off your fingers when you wash it.

A round sheet of Bake-O-Glide, but that does rather presume that you have an Aga to use it on.

A cheese grater with a box built in to catch the cheese -- mine comes from IKEA and thus costs almost nothing.

I quite like my new Joseph Joseph kitchen utensils that have weighted handles and built-in rests so that you can put them down on a worktop without messing it up (except that the spatula's not a very good spatula).

Oh, and I should have mentioned flick's enormous new Finnish fruit juice steamer, as recently featured on BoingBoing/Cool Tools. But it's probably more use if you have a lot of space to store it in, and you have a source of free apples nearby (we have a couple of trees in the garden and a couple of dozen trees on a nearby common).

I'd agree with the utility of the Potato Ricer, mine was a gift and has been unexpectedly useful for all sorts of fruit and veg.
If I had space I would probably fill up kitchen with many gadgets but the only one that is out all th time is the smoothie maker which I almost never use for smoothies but frequently use for soups and sauces

Edited at 2013-10-23 11:23 am (UTC)

I don't have any of those! I do like my Superior Cake Engine (kenwood prospero.)

After some thought:
Griddle pan. Everything is more delicious when stripy. Even toast!
Folding steamer basket. Broccoli is much nicer steamed and you can do it over the potatoes or pasta to save energy. Takes up less space in the dishwasher than an extra pan.
Pastry brush. I took the p when bytepilot bought it (just because the recipe says brush with egg - oh actually that is much easier isn't it.) Also makes fast work of oiling tins or trays to prevent sticking.

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