There’s a never-ending supply of kitchen gadgets out there, many of them offering you solutions to problems you never even knew existed (tomato ketchup guns, fondue mugs and fridge bottle lofts, anyone?). And the chances are, the vast majority will be used once and then spend the rest of their days gathering dust in the back of a cupboard.
But in amongst all that lot there are some kitchen gadgets that really do the business. These are the essential ones that genuinely do make your life easier and will be used and used to the point where you can’t believe you ever got by without them.
So here comes the most controversial kitchen gadget list you’ll ever read – '10 kitchen gadgets you will actually use'.
Obvious, maybe – but this is a kitchen gadget that many people still do without when they really shouldn’t, so it goes on the list. A dishwasher typically uses less water than washing your dishes by hand and it’s more hygienic, because the ideal temperature for cleaning crockery is 60C (140F) which is too hot for your hands. Also, guess what the dirtiest item in your house is? Yep, that yellow and green kitchen-sink washing-up sponge.
2) Digital scales
They measure far more accurately than their old-fashioned counterparts, especially for small amounts. You can also get some very compact models which will fit into a drawer easily, so they’re ideal if space is an issue. Many of them have an “add and weigh” function too, which lets you add new ingredients to the same bowl without having to be a mathematician – and you can switch units from metric to imperial, and even measure liquid volumes, at the touch of a button.
And we mean a mini-blender, not a juicer. Good juicers are so expensive, they’re a real pain to clean and most juicers will have at least five, awkwardly-shaped parts – and you don’t need that first thing in the morning. Mini-blenders are easier to use and easier to clean, and can be bought fairly cheaply as well. So as long as it’s smoothies you’re after rather than juice, a mini-blender is what you need. They’re great for sauces and soups as well!
4) Microplane grater
Developed, we’re told, from the design of a woodworkers’ rasp in the 1990s, these nifty little graters are dead easy to handle and are miles better than those clumsy box graters. Ideal for grating parmesan cheese, garlic, nutmeg and vegetables, the tiny, razor-like cutting edges slice instead of tearing or shredding, helping to conserve aroma and flavour. Because of their simple design, they’re also a doddle to clean.
5) Four-slice toaster
Unless you live alone, and always plan to, a two-slot toaster is never enough. And anyway, if you only need two slots, most four-slice models will let you heat just the two slots. Plus you get extra functions on a smarter toaster, like more variable cooking times, cook-from-frozen mode and higher pop ups. So get the biggest toaster you can, and literally halve the time it takes to do this daily morning routine. Now that’s what we call a gadget.
6) Magnetic kitchen timer
You may think we’re breaking our own rule about non-essential gadgets with this one, but bear with us. You see, if you set the timer on the oven, and go to watch telly, or vac the house, or do a bit of gardening, you will not hear that oven timer. So take a timer with you, stick it on the nearest metal surface, and Robert’s your relative.
7) Sharp knives and waterstones
Okay, this seems like another obvious one but if you’ve been sawing away with the same blunt instrument for the last 10 years, you’ll be amazed at the difference a set of sharp knives will make to your kitchen. Trust, us – you’ll never look back. Having a good knife makes cutting stuff up a pleasure (seriously – try it with an overripe tomato and you’ll see what we mean) and it makes the food taste better, especially delicate stuff like herbs, because you’re doing less damage than you would with a blunt knife. And the waterstones? They’re the things you use to keep your sharp knives sharp. It only takes a minute or two, after a glance at a YouTube video.
8) Heat-proof measuring jug
Again so useful, but never makes it onto a trendy gadget list. Why heat-proof? Two reasons: firstly, it won’t crazy-pave like a car windscreen when you put boiling water into it, and secondly you can pop it onto the hob as well. To be honest, that’s all you need to know.
9) Food processor
Food processors chop, slice and grate food, using interchangeable spinning blades in a plastic bowl. You can mix, whisk and whip as well as chopping, so they’re very versatile. Think of it as the Ian Botham of your kitchen – a great all-rounder who will make a basically long, dull game seem more interesting. You might want to see if you need this AND the blender we mentioned earlier. Some food processors have a blender function too.
10) Silicone spatula with a nice wooden handle
We’re not joking, you’ll wonder how you managed without it. The spatula combines the flexibility of traditional rubber spatulas with the heat-resistance of metal kitchen utensils. Plus it’s stain resistant and it’s dishwasher-safe. The wooden handle won’t conduct heat, and, well, it feels nice.
So there you have it – a proper essential gadget list, and not an egg-cuber, latte coffee art gun, sunnyside egg-shaper or monogrammed barbecue branding iron in sight…