Join 3,418 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Tags:

Slices, dices
December 4, 2011 4:24 AM   Subscribe

20 Cool and Useful Kitchen Tools. Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
posted by twoleftfeet (92 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
1 Cool and Useful Kitchen Tool: Shun Classic Chef's Knife.. Does all the above cutting functions and more.

Pair with this whetstone for twice the fun.
posted by Gordion Knott at 4:31 AM on December 4, 2011 [18 favorites]


I second Gordian Knott's motion to recognize the coolness and utility of a good knife. And I will point out (here I am pointing it out) how annoying it would be to have a kitchen cluttered with a large number of single-purpose tools.
posted by noahpoah at 4:35 AM on December 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Well, at first I too thought that most of these accessories could be replaced by one good knife and some cutting skills.

But keep going through the list - the Star Wars stuff is genuinely really charming and clever, and from then on there's a real uptick in the "why didn't I think of that" factor.

I can vouch for the garlic peeler, btw, although I admit I still most often do this the traditional way with a flatbladed knife..
posted by pyotrstolypin at 4:40 AM on December 4, 2011


Gordion Knott: "1 Cool and Useful Kitchen Tool: Shun Classic Chef's Knife.. Does all the above cutting functions and more.

Pair with this whetstone for twice the fun.
"

If you're okay with saving money in exchange for style, you can pick up a MAC knife or a Kyocera ceramic knife. Cuts at least as well for much, much less.
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:01 AM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Cook's Illustrated was a little unsettled that the Victorinox Fibrox Chef's Knife (a $40 stamped metal knife), performed as well as knives that cost 5 times as much.
posted by JonahBlack at 5:06 AM on December 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


Some of the slicers feel gadgety and that strawberry thing is a waste of good strawberry but I'd buy the avocado cuber
posted by infini at 5:14 AM on December 4, 2011


Uh oh, just looked through part 2 - I have one of those lemon squeezer thingies, a designa object from Eataly in Torino

and this is too cute

Cupmen: A useful tool that keeps the lid closed while the noodles are heating up and as the temperature rises it changes color to white, letting you know three minutes have elapsed.
posted by infini at 5:20 AM on December 4, 2011


Page 8 item 1 is a pretty handy-looking anti-boil-over thingy. Nothing else really jumps out at me as a must-have, though. There's only so many garlic-peelers I need.
posted by Leon at 5:23 AM on December 4, 2011


Ok, rather than complain about the gadgety, link-bait nature of the post, here are two kitchen tools I find genuinely useful. The Tala Cooks Measure and a decent-sized marble pastry board.
posted by Leon at 5:37 AM on December 4, 2011


I have one of those lemon squeezer thingies

As do I. It works pretty well, too. I bought it as a jokey gift for a friend, there were two in the box, and I ended up with one. If it took up any more space in my kitchen drawer (or I squeezed fewer lemons/limes), I would ditch it, however -- buying/storing gadgets that do something I only do occasionally is a waste of time and money.

I guess the Produce Washing Net might be handy if your kitchen doesn't have space for a colander, but I bet it's not good for draining pasta, but the Koku Cutting Board on page 5 looks basically hard to store, hard to clean, hard to use, and hard to imagine needing. And, guys? If I ever need to make a hamburger shaped like a hot dog, I have two of the best, coolest cooking tools of all -- they are called hands.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:40 AM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I got a set of pizza scissors free for buying a wooden crate.

They give off a sense of lethality, for no good reason.
posted by davemee at 5:44 AM on December 4, 2011


Cook's Illustrated was a little unsettled that the Victorinox Fibrox Chef's Knife (a $40 stamped metal knife), performed as well as knives that cost 5 times as much.

I picked one up and can attest that it cuts and holds an edge as well as my more expensive ones. Rare case where cheaper is just as good.

A lot of these gadgets look like the sorts of things that mostly take up drawer space.
posted by middleclasstool at 5:55 AM on December 4, 2011


i really don't know how to react to this: cool! or oh, come on!?
posted by Partario at 5:58 AM on December 4, 2011


Gordian Knot beat me to it. So much so that:

Pair with this whetstone for twice the fun.

This very water stone is currently sitting on the bit of counter between the sink and the wall, only I wasn't sharpening anything I was going to use on food.

If you want to save money on a premium knife, you can get A2 steel pretty cheap (as air hardening tool steels go) and shape it with hand tools and heat it up once. NOTE: I just said cheap, not quick or easy. Or, if you don't want to sharpen your knives more than once every few years (but don't mind an epic struggle when you do) there's D2 steel.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:02 AM on December 4, 2011


I can vouch for the garlic peeler, btw, although I admit I still most often do this the traditional way with a flatbladed knife.

The most important thing to remember about garlic, is that it makes things taste like garlic, and garlic is delicious.

How to peel a head of garlic in less than ten seconds
posted by clearly at 6:12 AM on December 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


The most important thing to remember about garlic, is that it makes things taste like garlic, and garlic is delicious.

I hate garlic. Every half-assed wannabe chef from here to China thinks that they can make something awesome by adding garlic. You know what...there are other things you can add to your meal that make it taste great. Fuck you garlic.
posted by Fizz at 6:20 AM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hate garlic.

Well, at least we can agree that everyone loves oregano.
posted by clearly at 6:30 AM on December 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Those banana cutters are completely ridiculous. First of all, how hard is it to cut a banana? Not at all, is how hard. But worse, how hard is it to clean those cutters? Very, is how hard. Attempting to clean banana from "between" anything is a recipe for bacterial and fungal growth.
posted by DU at 6:31 AM on December 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


I have made it a hard and fast rule to never buy another single-use kitchen gadget, though they show up as gifts every so often. Once in a while I encounter one in a drawer and the stupidness of the single-use design irritates me enough that I'll throw it away on the spot.

A lot of those seem like devices to keep you from having to actually touch food with your hands, which maybe says something about our ambivalent relationship to food and cooking -- we both fetishize it and want to keep it distant.
posted by Forktine at 6:31 AM on December 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Most of those actually look pretty gadgety, and the rotary peeler actually reminds me of a ladies' razor that was popular in the 1980's. But I would be all over that "vegetable spaghetti" thing and the "spice leaf" book (depending on how strong the spices actually were).

A friend and I discovered the secret problem with the rotating spiral cutting tools (like the "rotato" potato peeler) -- if you're easily amused, you end up peeling and cutting more than you intended because you want to see it keep going. We tried an apple one and ended up having to make four apple pies because we'd gotten into a frenzy of "cool! Let's get another apple and try again!"

The only gadget I've found usefully lately are these egg poacher things -- good for if you don't poach enough eggs to want a dedicated pan, but then get occasional uncontrollable cravings for eggs benedict.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:31 AM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Spiral Hotdog Cutters: This creative hotdog and sausage cutters can produce 10 advantages per cut.

Advantages???
posted by ian1977 at 6:54 AM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am an acolyte of Alton Brown, and as such try to avoid gadgets and the dreaded "unitasker".

However, I will admit to a couple of gadgets I love, outside of a good knife and a cutting board. I've had one of these food choppers or more than one for years. I've never tried a slap chop, but this is the original as far as I am concerned. And I use it pretty much exclusively for garlic. When you cook the quantity of garlic I do at such quantity, this is just the simplest way to mince 40 cloves of garlic very quickly. It doesn't do much more than mince, but I use it multiple times a week, and it's well worth the cost for me. And Fizz, you are history's greatest monster.

I have a rice cooker. Just a cheap $20 one that I've had for more than five years now. And I use it maybe three or four times a week. I have a mushroom cutter, which is sort of like an egg slicer but with blades. I actually used egg slicers for a while, but those metal strings kept snapping on the harder mushrooms. I love to cook fungus, and this is my favored way to get uniform slices.

That's it about these days. I have a variety of pans, but these days, there are maybe three that I use. They're of the cheaper variety, and as they wear out, I'm upgrading, slowly. There are a few pans I can't bear to get rid of yet, even if I only use them two or three times a year, such as my beloved crepe/omelet pan.
posted by X-Himy at 6:57 AM on December 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I had no idea that there were so many things I am glad not to own.
posted by foodgeek at 6:58 AM on December 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


It's amazing how people have figured out so many ways to make people pay for what is essentially garbage. This kind of stuff gets used like three times max and then moulders in a drawer before eventually being carted off to the landfill. It brings no joy to anyone, improves quality of life not a whit. It is the Future Trash. Future Trash that someone wants you to pay money for. The best that it can do is let you tick off a box on your Christmas shopping list for someone who you don't really know or care much about but for whom you feel obligated to buy something, anything so as not to feel like some kind of ungrateful wretch.

Gross.
posted by Scientist at 7:11 AM on December 4, 2011 [14 favorites]


Boiling Buoy: Just place this boiling water chime in your pan of water, turn up the heat, and wait for the chime to ring; it will let you know your water's ready to go.

At last!!!! Someone came-up with a way for me to know if my water is boiling! All those bubbles kept getting in the way.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:14 AM on December 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Most of this stuff is useless, but there's a few good ideas in there: the onion-holder thing (because onions are slippery and cutting them is a pain in the ass), the lemon-squeezer thing (because when you squeeze a lemon over something you inevitably have to pick out the damn lemon seeds afterwards) and although it's not there, a sort of adjustable universal corer would be extremely helpful.
posted by mightygodking at 7:15 AM on December 4, 2011


Jesus, the negativity in here... Although I did refuse to buy recently wedded friends a strawberry corer.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:15 AM on December 4, 2011


I have a rice cooker. Just a cheap $20 one that I've had for more than five years now.

Rice cookers are versatile as hell. Roger Ebert wrote a whole cookbook for them after his surgeries and the end of his relationship with food, he's so fond of them. I've been thinking of getting one myself -- I'm told you can hack them to do sous vide.

the lemon-squeezer thing

One of the best kitchen purchases I ever made was a cheap tea strainer. Perfect for catching seeds and pulp.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:19 AM on December 4, 2011


Rice cooker with steamer thingie on top - most versatile affordable kitchen appliance ever.
posted by infini at 7:24 AM on December 4, 2011


Sigh. A big collection of single purpose kitchen clutter that will only serve to OH MY GOD SLAVE LEIA APRON I AM SO BUYING THAT FOR MY WIFE.
posted by CaseyB at 7:25 AM on December 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


How to peel a head of garlic in less than ten seconds.

We tried that and couldn't get it to work.

I don't think there's anything wrong with a "unitasker" if you're actually going to use it all the time.
posted by zennie at 7:28 AM on December 4, 2011


Bottle Caps Punch: This cool device is designed to make holes in the metal caps of soda-bottles, and you can enjoy your drink through a straw without opening the caps.

I don't get it.
posted by mikelieman at 7:30 AM on December 4, 2011


OH MY GOD SLAVE LEIA APRON I AM SO BUYING THAT FOR MY WIFE

I will confess to having the same reaction.
posted by Forktine at 7:32 AM on December 4, 2011


I have a big salad bowl (a Lock and Lock) that I also use to peel one or more heads of garlic. It takes more than 10 seconds, and some of the cloves look beat up, but it works for me and is a hell of a lot faster than peeling them individually or in small groups by rolling them in a silicone trivet.
posted by SillyShepherd at 7:32 AM on December 4, 2011


1 Cool and Useful Kitchen Tool: Shun Classic Chef's Knife.. Does all the above cutting functions and more.

Pair with this whetstone for twice the fun.
posted by Gordion Knott at 8:31 AM on December 4


eponysterical.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:38 AM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


When volunteering in a kindergarten, one learns the value of an apple divider at snack time. The time saved is used for explaining why the skin is a good source of dietary fibre, and no I'm not peeling it for them; that the little bit of browning is a result of oxidization, a natural chemical process that I'm not going into right now but it's fine so please just eat it; taste it with your mouth, not with your eyes; that yes, I could soak the apples in a bit of lemon juice and water to stop said browning, another natural chemical process, but that can make them "taste funny" too; and that everyone's slices are the exact same size so no, his slices are not bigger; and that the blue spots on your apple slices are because you didn't wash your hands well enough and thankfully the paint is non-toxic please wash your hands better next time.
posted by peagood at 7:42 AM on December 4, 2011 [29 favorites]


It's amazing how people have figured out so many ways to make people pay for what is essentially garbage.

THIS IS NOTHING.

Go to the sporting goods section of any department store and look at the vast array of products that claim they will make you a better golfer, hunter or fisherman. Now, compare the amount of time someone claims to be a golfer, hunter or fisherman spends at the golf course, woods or lake relative to the amount of time someone who claims to be a cook spends in the kitchen.

Don't even get me started on woodworking tools!
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:49 AM on December 4, 2011


The best kitchen tools I have picked up in the last few years have been a toaster oven and a magic bullet blender. It would take me longer to find one of these specialty slicer/corer things than to just use a knife. However I don't make pies etc. Depending on what kinds of things you make most often, even the most seemingly ridiculous single-tasker could conceivably be worthwhile.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 8:23 AM on December 4, 2011


If you want to save money on a premium knife, you can get A2 steel pretty cheap (as air hardening tool steels go) and shape it with hand tools and heat it up once. NOTE: I just said cheap, not quick or easy...

Wow, you sound like fun, Kid Charlemagne. Not:)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:23 AM on December 4, 2011


Unitaskers abound.
posted by crunchland at 8:25 AM on December 4, 2011


They do seem really silly if you assume that some individual person would have all of them, but I don't assume that. (Sure, some people do, but some people just really like shopping and buy too many things in general.)

I make lots of apple pies. Sometimes, I get a bushel of apples and make tons of pies at once to freeze. As such, I have and use an apple divider. It's relatively small, it wasn't expensive, and I get a lot of use out of it. So that makes sense for me. I don't have a mezzaluna right now, but I should have one of those, too, because I chop a whole lot of herbs and garlic.

Similarly, if you put up strawberry jam every year, or if you eat a whole lot of avocados or pancakes or something, unitaskers might make sense for you. Sure, these are all things you can do with much more generic tools like a knife or something, but the small performance hit of coring and slicing a single apple with a knife adds up when you have a whole bushel to get through in a day.

Therein lies my beef with Alton Brown. He's super-prescriptive and far too prone to making overarching pronouncements. He has some sort of 'shortlist' of acceptable unitaskers, and then deems all the rest unnecessary and pointless. And some people take those pronouncements really, really seriously.

I think most people have figured out that you don't really need a separate tool for every thing they need to do in the kitchen.
posted by ernielundquist at 8:39 AM on December 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I liked the watermelon knife whose only distinctive characteristic was that it was... watermelon coloured.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:44 AM on December 4, 2011


I think most people have figured out that you don't really need a separate tool for every thing they need to do in the kitchen.

This applies to the iOS interface as well.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 8:44 AM on December 4, 2011


Those banana cutters are completely ridiculous.

until you havealota banana's
posted by stbalbach at 8:55 AM on December 4, 2011


I actually do have a sudden craving for eggs Benedict, now.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:57 AM on December 4, 2011


As someone who has a ridiculous amount of kitchen equipment (dozens of Euro/Japanese/custom knives, pots and pans of every conceivable construction and material, commercial vacuum sealer and several laboratory recirculating water bath heaters for sous vide cooking, commercial VitaPrep 3 blender, etc.) I am hardly in a position to criticize in the area of kitchen equipment. (Although, in my defense, I have written about cookware so a lot of this was free or deeply discounted.)

My golden rule in acquiring any new cookware has always been to ask: What do I want/need to do (or want/need to do better) in the kitchen that I can't do with what I already have? Most of the time this is a good reason not to buy new kitchen equipment. How many bell peppers do you have to core on a regular basis before it makes sense to get a specialized bell pepper corer? And yet, the very same people who do core that many peppers never use gadgets like that.

The only time it makes sense to acquire single-purpose equipment is when there is something you want to do in the kitchen that you can't do effectively any other way, even if you don't do it very often. Single-purpose tools that, when you need them, there really is no substitute. Waffle irons only make waffles, but if you don't have one you can't have waffles.

Or to make another example, I have a spätzle maker. I happen to love spätzle and like to make it every so often -- let's say a half-dozen times a year or so. And while there are various ways one can make spätzle without this tool, none of them is particularly satisfactory in my experience. Reliance on these other methods leads to less frequent preparation and consumption of spätzle in the slkinsey household, or even outright cessation, and, well, we just can't have that. When my previous spätzle maker broke, there was much moaning and gnashing of teeth during the spätzle-free year it took me to remember to buy a replacement. But I can't imagine that breaking a bell pepper corer or boil buoy would lead to any decrease in bell pepper consumption or, yanno, boiling of water around the house.
posted by slkinsey at 8:58 AM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I would probably use the shit out of the avocado cuber, and I'm interested to see how well the mango corer works. Mangos can really put up a fight. The rest of it, eh - though I have been thinking it'd be fun to have some egg rings, so I could make fried egg sandwiches.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:03 AM on December 4, 2011


I think it really depends on how much you use a certain type of food. Since I found out I was diabetic, I'm supposed to be eating a lot more fruits and vegetables, and I've found that an apple slicer definitely contributes to an "apple a day" habit. Grab an apple, slice it up, and you have eight apple slices to choose from for the rest of the afternoon -- instead of numerous less healthy choices.

I think I'll get my mom davemee's pizza scissors, too, because it would keep my her from using the same scissors she clips recipes with and god knows what else, which is gross. (I use a rolling slicer and complete the job in half the time, but that's just me.)

On the other hand, when I thought I was about to start dating someone I got all planny and bought this nifty wine-glass-and-bottle picnic device, but the relationship never went anywhere and the gadget has been taking up space in my closet for the last couple of years. Every time I see it, I'm reminded of that flame-out, too. DAMN YOU GADGETS-slash-objective correlatives.
posted by dhartung at 9:03 AM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, way too much negativity early in this thread. C'mon it's links to a bunch of lists of interesting, if niche, devices. Srsly mefi, sometimes you need to get over yourself.

Yes of course, a good knife is the most important kitchen implement that can do most of the things that these unitaskers can do, but SO FREAKING WHAT. As ernielundquist says above, if you do a lot of that particular task, a well designed unitasker can make a huge difference.

The Oxo apple slicer we have in the kitchen gets used every single day in our house. It's actually dulling now under so much use that we may need to buy a new one. We have a garlic peeler tube, which I think I picked up for like $3. I use it every time I peel garlic, not because I don't know how to do it with a knife, but BECAUSE IT DOES ITS TASK ELEGANTLY AND QUICKLY. $3 very, very well spent, thankyouverymuch. We also have the mango corer, which doesn't get daily use like the apple corer does, but damn do I like having it because CUTTING MANGOS SUCKS. I also have a friend with a cherry pitter, and boy howdy can you eat a lot of cherries when you have one of those. Hers is rigged up with a mason jar to the pits fall right into the jar after pitting. Gadgets like that rock.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:05 AM on December 4, 2011


I can see the banana cutters in use at preschools where bananas are allowable food for the very little kids but must be sliced. That's a lot of banana slicing.

I sort-of want the strawberry huller, because of all repetitive kitchen tasks that aren't actually hard, hulling strawberries makes me want to kill myself and has for years, to the point that I get grumpy whenever we have strawberries. So possibly a single-use tool would be helpful there.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:06 AM on December 4, 2011


I hope to someday have a separate device for slicing each type of fruit and vegetable. I also hope to someday have a much larger kitchen.
posted by overglow at 9:28 AM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hope to someday have a separate kitchen for every type of fruit and vegetable. I also hope to someday have a much larger compound.
posted by notyou at 9:33 AM on December 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


They misspelled separate when describing the garlic peeler. Just had to get that grindy off my chest.
I loved perusing the lists, but never knew there were so many tools to slice kernels off corn. Most of this stuff I wouldn't ever purchase, but a few things looked interesting. I would personally never buy any avocado tool, because a knife and spoon are the best, and don't take up extra space in my kitchen. The apron guide would make a great gift, the jigsaw cookie cutter is clever, and I just bought the herb chopper/slicer thing as a possible gift for someone a couple of weeks ago.
posted by annsunny at 9:35 AM on December 4, 2011


Since going paleolithic diet, all I have is a rock.
posted by stbalbach at 9:37 AM on December 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


I have to say that I agree with the sentiment that gadgets are essentially "future trash." Even for tasks that I perform many times, I find myself reaching for general purpose tools (knives, mostly) rather than specialty gadgets. Take apple slicing -- even if you're slicing twenty apples for a pie, it's just as easy to slice them with a sharp chef's knife as it is with one of the eight-segment gadgets, if only because the eight-segment gadgets have a tendency to bog down in the middle.

The most important kitchen gadget I have is this AccuSharp knife sharpener. For less than ten bucks, it can't be beat.

I honestly think that, the more you cook, the fewer gadgets you buy. When I didn't really cook that much, I bought tons of things that now clutter my kitchen and never get used, like an egg slicer, a salad spinner (?!), and a garlic peeler. These days, I largely use a few pots and pans and one of three knives (a 10" chef's, a 8" chef's, and a paring knife), or a swivel peeler.
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:53 AM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


We just got a salad spinner, because we were tired of drying our salads. We eat a lot of salads, so its worthwhile.

I think a lot of gadgets are like that - if its something that you do a LOT, then the specialized tool can make sense.

Except for onion goggles.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:27 AM on December 4, 2011


The problem is that there's no editing at all to this list. Here's an apple corer. Here, two pages later, another apple corer. Here, two pages after that? A slicer! Whoa crazy! Here's six different ways to remove corn from a cob spread out across 12 pages!

You want to make a list like this of neat kitchen gadgets? Fine. But don't give me six tools that do the exact same thing.
posted by graventy at 12:00 PM on December 4, 2011


Most of this stuff is useless, but there's a few good ideas in there: the onion-holder thing (because onions are slippery and cutting them is a pain in the ass)

Now, wait a minute.

Finely cutting an onion

Another approach that can be coarse or fine

I can't find a video, but you also follow the second video but instead of the first set of slices being up and down, they are radial from the edge toward the center. This is a bit more uneven, but I find it quicker and less finicky.

All of these are safe, super-easy, and don't require an "onion holder."

Lastly, cats don't like onions, even if they beg for them
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:04 PM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: Srsly, sometimes you need to get over yourself.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:12 PM on December 4, 2011


I have been thinking it'd be fun to have some egg rings, so I could make fried egg sandwiches.

Actually, you could make your own fairly easily out of old tuna fish cans -- you used a can opener to take the top off, now just use it on the other side to take the bottom off, sand down the sharp edges on the top and bottom with some sandpaper, and wash it well. Presto!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:25 PM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


The one item that's improved my cooking more than anything else is this cast-iron pan.

Yes, that says 15-inch. No, it won't "fit" on the burner: it will in fact barely fit on an entire side of the stove. But you won't care, because getting perfectly-browned meats and actually-stir-fried stir-fries will be easy every time.

I have been thinking it'd be fun to have some egg rings, so I could make fried egg sandwiches.

Oh! I also do this in cast iron! That pan seems too small, much as the one above seems too big, but it's perfect for doing things like cooking eggs, frying sausage, sauteeing onions and mushrooms, making little one-pan cornbreads, etc. These two, a saucepan, and a 12" stainless-steel frying pan are really all I use.
posted by vorfeed at 12:34 PM on December 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Cast iron is OK if you have the legendary seasoning, which tends to be a troublesome art that evades many people. Someone came up with a seasoning method that survived even a run through the dishwasher w/ degreaser at the Cooks Illustrated test kitchen. This thread has more.
posted by stbalbach at 1:07 PM on December 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Nice to see someone finally invented the melon baller.

And what was that, 15 different corn-related items? It's as if we're living in a bleak nightmare world where corn is impossible to cook and eat. Boil. Pick up. Eat. I don't need a batter powered corn silk shaver in the shape of a helicopter flown by a piglet.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:09 PM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Most useless item on this list.

I mean, come on. For a single can!?!
posted by chavenet at 1:29 PM on December 4, 2011


I hated everything until I saw the notepad toaster and now I am at one with seething avarice.
posted by elizardbits at 1:31 PM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cast iron is OK if you have the legendary seasoning, which tends to be a troublesome art that evades many people

I dunno, all I ever do to clean it is heat the pan, scrape it with one of these, and follow-up with salt and paper towels if needed. If it seems to need more seasoning at that point, I coat the inside of the pan with peanut oil and heat on high until smoking. It also helps to wipe out the pan when you're finished cooking, but sometimes I forget... either way, it always comes clean using the above method.

The real key to seasoning is: don't use water or soap, and cook often. As long as you're using them frequently, these pans pretty much take care of themselves -- a lot of the things you're likely to cook in them (bacon, pork chops!) amount to seasoning anyway.
posted by vorfeed at 1:36 PM on December 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


What's with all the tools for holding and/or pouring from bottles and cans?

Do many people have that much difficulty pouring from bottles and cans?

I can vouch for the garlic peeler

I was impressed by that garlic peeler until I discovered that it works just as well if you leave out the garlic peeler. That is: instead of rolling the clove between your palms inside the peeler, just roll the clove between your palms.
posted by ook at 1:49 PM on December 4, 2011


Not to further derail, but the only time I ever season cast iron pans is after I get them home from the thrift store. Once properly seasoned, you just basically cook in 'em, and wipe 'em down with a paper towel, or a green scrubbie and cold water if there are tough bits.

And +1 on garlic peelers. Use mine every day.
posted by jetsetsc at 1:54 PM on December 4, 2011


Let's say I'm making a fruit salad with five different fruits apples, bananas, strawberries, mangos, and melon.

According to this list I'd need eight different tools: an apple corer, an apple peeler, an apple divider, a banana slicer, a strawberry huller, a strawberry slicer, a mango pitter, and a melon scoop. Plus something for dealing with the mango after pitting it (a paring knife and a "mango spoon?" — that makes ten). Don't know how I've survived without any of these.
posted by beagle at 2:00 PM on December 4, 2011


My experience, from cooking on cast iron from whenever I was first allowed to start cooking as a child until the present, is that cast iron takes care of itself as long as you fry bacon or hamburger reasonably often. As long as you have nice greasy meat in the cooking rotation, you can use the pan to make acidic sauces or whatever, and even if you strip off part of the seasoning, it will be replaced as soon as you next fry up some meat.

But when I had a vegetarian interlude, I was not happy to discover that keeping my pans seasoned became much more difficult. So I sometimes wonder if some of the people I read about online who have so much trouble with cast iron seasoning just aren't frying very much meat (and maybe aren't using a metal spatula, which helps keep things polished smooth). I'm sure that the flaxoil method linked above works great, but it seems like far, far more work than a $10 frying pan is worth, especially compared to how easy it is to just fry up some burgers and call it a day.

To link this back to the original topic, a cast iron pan is the opposite of a single-use gadget. It can be used for frying, making sauces, and baking; the weight helps when making chicken under a brick, too. And it takes a lifetime or two to wear them out, so you aren't going to be replacing it every year.
posted by Forktine at 2:08 PM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


A cast iron pan ... takes a lifetime or two to wear them out

This one must have concluded its second life...
posted by beagle at 2:13 PM on December 4, 2011


This looks incredibly realistic to a chicken sub sandwich with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and olives on honey oat bread.

This looks incredibly like a sentence. But it isn't.
posted by Splunge at 2:19 PM on December 4, 2011


Wow. Just, wow.
I've never seen so many poor substitutes for a good knife and knife skills.
posted by plinth at 2:43 PM on December 4, 2011


Due to the high carbon content, cast iron is really brittle. I lost an heirloom pan when I carelessly set it on the edge of the counter, and it crashed down, and shattered. The loudness of the crash rivaled my sobbing when I realized what I had done.
posted by crunchland at 2:59 PM on December 4, 2011


All I really want are those Jar Tops lids... only really useful thing I lingered over.
posted by DisreputableDog at 3:23 PM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am happy the Mango Pitter is suitably NSFW.
posted by swift at 3:50 PM on December 4, 2011


Ronald Reagan frequently used to tell a story about this fella who saw a problem - when you hold a can of beer in your hands it gets warm very quickly - and this fella found a solution; it's a handle, like a Stein handle, that you can clamp on to the can. And he became a millionaire!

I get the feeling that there must be a lot of inventors out there like this, thinking EVERYBODY IS GOING TO NEED MY WONDER GADGET AND I'M GOING TO BE RICH!

Of course, Reagan used to tell the story to encourage the belief that the rich were basically hard working ordinary folk who thought up a better way to do things. And you can too! So go easy on the rich! So often did he tell this story that it was quickly parodied, for example, in this remix (about 3 minutes in): Well, this fella's made a very economical stein handle. You buy a dozen of 'em and have 'em like you have your silverware. You're serving people, aah, poison foods the a can, you just clamp the snamp, s-snap the snant, clamp clamp the snan, s-snap the handle.....

But everybody is going to want my Chia Obama.

posted by twoleftfeet at 3:57 PM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]




It is entirely possible that hamdogs will one day make an appearance at the goodfamily's dinner table. One day.

posted by peagood at 3:58 PM on December 4, 2011


Although not mad for single-use tools and able to do most kitchen functions with a proper knife, I must confess I do have one of these. It works insanely well.
posted by kinnakeet at 4:27 PM on December 4, 2011


@sonic meat machine, we have a salad spinner, because we have a big kitchen garden from which we get a ton of greens, which are all covered in dirt. They require fairly vigorous washing, and then you gotta spin them unless you want icky soaking wet salad that won't hold a dressing. It just lives on top of the fridge since it a) is big so doesn't fit well in cabinets and b) gets used almost every day in the spring and summer.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:38 PM on December 4, 2011


There is a Japanese art form called Chindōgu. It is the design of inventions that have a use, but a use that nobody would ever want or need and often cause more problems than the solve. The classic example is glasses with funnels set into the lenses to help you put in eyedrops.

I am convinced these gadgets are examples of Chindōgu. Come on , that banana slicer?
posted by Ad hominem at 6:46 PM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Don't even get me started on woodworking tools!

I can get behind the uni-task hate, but now you've gone too far (casting a nervous eye over the 40 or so gouges & chisels, 6 slightly different carving mallets, and 16 (oh God, thats the first time I ever actually counted them!) hand saws hanging in the racks across the room)...
posted by Chrischris at 7:28 PM on December 4, 2011


@Eyebrows McGee, fair enough. I do use mine occasionally, but I don't make salads often. Perhaps the salad spinner was a bad example; the garlic crusher (which never gets clean, no matter how much you scrub it) is a better example, especially after I got better at doing the same job with the side of my knife.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:29 PM on December 4, 2011


Those links made me yell at my computer screen a lot. "What? No. No. WHAT? No."

Eyebrows McGee, you may need this collapsible salad spinner!
posted by librarina at 7:58 PM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I eat a lot of bell peppers. I will never own a corer. I explained how to get perfect bell pepper sticks before. Most of these are single use, but weirdly enough, the boiling buoy would be great. I always wander off while waiting for water to boil. It's designed for people like me.

My roommate buys a kitchen gadget about every six months or so. So far, the Foreman grill and bread machine have not left their boxes. The juicers have been used regularly though.
posted by Hactar at 8:02 PM on December 4, 2011


We also have the mango corer, which doesn't get daily use like the apple corer does, but damn do I like having it because CUTTING MANGOS SUCKS.

You guys aren't eating mangoes properly. All you need to do is make a cut at one end, peel off all the skin, stand at the sink and start shoving sweet mango into your mouth with loud slurping sounds till only the seed is left.

What do you mean I can't have the whole mango all to myself?
posted by destrius at 9:00 PM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


cool and useful? absurd and useless would be more accurate...

These are the sort of thing you buy as a christmas gift that the recipient can just throw away and forget about.
posted by mary8nne at 12:41 AM on December 5, 2011


Cook's Illustrated was a little unsettled that the Victorinox Fibrox Chef's Knife (a $40 stamped metal knife), performed as well as knives that cost 5 times as much.

I wouldn't say "unsettled", JonahBlack. It's what they do best, better than any other cooking show/mag/book I've ever seen except Alton (may his name be praised) Brown.

"Conventional wisdom says that, to make a perfect X, you should do Y, then Z. But after trying 4 different cuts of X, and ruining 2 crockpots and 1 stainless steel ricer, we discovered that wrapping W in cellophane, then leaving it on the counter to warm to room temperature produced the best results."
posted by IAmBroom at 5:45 AM on December 5, 2011


A cast iron pan ... takes a lifetime or two to wear them out

This one must have concluded its second life...


beagle, that's not wear; it's abuse. Cast iron is sensitive to thermal shock, unlike stainless steel.

Ask me how I know.

Go on, ask.

Grr...
posted by IAmBroom at 5:48 AM on December 5, 2011


Can it core a apple?
posted by mikepop at 7:51 AM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


@mightygodking Most of this stuff is useless, but there's a few good ideas in there: the onion-holder thing (because onions are slippery and cutting them is a pain in the ass)

I've never had problems with slippery onions. They can be a pain in the ass to cut but that's generally only true if you don't have a decent knife. See the first comment on this page. It's what I use and easily slices onions. Check out the Victorinox also suggested on this page if you want a cheaper alternative.
posted by briareus at 12:46 PM on December 5, 2011


I've been eyeing up that garlic rocker, but there's no way to hang it on my pegboard. Who designs something so lovely and pricey and ostensibly useful without a f'n hangyhole?! Chumps, that's who.
posted by mimi at 6:30 AM on December 6, 2011


« Older "2,3,4 or more microphones are suspended from the ...  |  "Almost everything I do is bas... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments