This is my list of some of the best kitchen gadgets I have. Naturally I think these are the kind of gifts someone would appreciate this holiday season, but you get to decide that. I'm simply sharing some of the tools I use often and how I use them. There are many more but this is a sample of what I picked out of my drawers.
Since cooking shows on TV have become popular (because obviously we like to watch people cook more than we actually like to cook) we have seen chefs using Microplane graters for everything. Microplane is a brand known for their high quality, razor sharp graters and zesters. From garlic and ginger to chocolate, cheese and spices these handheld gadgets come in a variety of sizes to grate anything. They have different lengths and widths with varying sizes of holes to grate coarse, medium or fine. They are quick and easy to use but I still like my old style short zester to make long strips of zest (for the lime glaze on my Chocolate Aztec Ice Cream) or if I want a different texture than what I get from the selection of graters I have.
Best Hand Juicer Ever
Up here above the 49th parallel, where we don’t have lemon or orange trees, some of us cook with…gasp…bottled citrus juice. But we do have grocery stores and there is nothing like the fresh taste of citrus zest and juice in both sweet and savoury recipes. When I want that I use the best hand-juicer ever. They come in orange, yellow and green to match the fruit they are intended to juice. (Mine is yellow so it was not allowed in this red and green themed photo.)
I use this little stainless steel funnel to refill my pepper mill and all the little spice bottles I have. It's a small gadget that is very useful.
A mandoline has razor sharp blades and it gets the job done. I don't use mine often but when I want perfectly sliced potatoes to make Scalloped White and Sweet Potatoes or see-through thin cucumber for Sushi Pizza I pull out my mandoline.
Every kitchen needs portion scoops. Use them to serve up ice cream, make perfect little meatballs or dozens of cookies all the same size. They make many jobs quick and easy and the uniform size is helpful for both even baking and a nice presentation. I have collected three different sizes but there are many more and you can even buy them in sets.
You can laugh at my Dymo label maker but I know how much xanthan gum to add to a cup of flour because the label tells me. How did I learn that glutinous rice flour is the same as sweet rice flour? I put two labels on that container and they are still there. In the fridge and the freezer labels serve as reminders of what you can serve for dinner and they can avoid those science experiments that grow in unlabeled plastic containers.
Digital Kitchen Scale
A digital kitchen scale has many uses including weighing meat, pasta, vegetables and flour. It is good for portion control too. These scales are especially useful for gluten free bakers who need to weigh different flours for baking. Be sure to choose one with easy to read numbers.
Whisks and Strainers
No kitchen is complete without a variety of wire whisks and strainers. They can be bought individually or in sets. Whisks are especially important for thoroughly mixing dry ingredients when baking. Strainers can be used for dusting cocoa over dessert or straining lumps out of gravy. I keep a separate strainer in my container of flour mix ingredients just to strain lumpy potato starch. So get all the right sizes you need for the way you cook.
Liquid Measuring Cups
No kitchen is complete without a variety of measuring cups for both dry and liquid ingredients. Of course they aren't gadgets but when I looked in my cupboards they jumped out at me. I have all kinds of them and choose different ones for different jobs.
- Oxo angled measuring cups (set of 4) are read by looking down into the cup and are convenient for many things. I especially like the small one that measures tablespoons, it's perfect for making salad dressing.
- I like to measure and microwave sauces right in my Pyrex 2-cup or 4-cup measuring cups and save myself a bowl.
Brown Sugar Disk
This isn't a gadget either but it is important to prevent cross contamination. If you know anyone who still puts a slice of bread in their brown sugar to keep it soft please give them a brown sugar disk. Even if you will never eat in their house we should encourage the end of that little practise. I soak my disk in water for twenty minutes every time I refill my container of brown sugar, sooner if it goes hard. Buy them with cute designs either individually or in sets of 6 or sets of 4.
The Art of Giving
On their own some gadgets or little items don't seem gift-worthy but they could be tucked into a stocking or wrapped in a pretty bag for a hostess gift. For a unique gift combine several gadgets and create a Kitchen Basket or Box. Buy simple items in sets of different sizes and chose bright colours. To make the gift more substantial or fun, add some specialty ingredients or even a cookbook. For bakers and cooks alike my top book pick this year is either or both of these two volumes from America’s Test Kitchen. They are packed with culinary wisdom and will last for years to come.
I'd love to hear in the comments below what some of your favourite gadgets are.