Utensils, gadgets, small appliances, large appliances – there’s a lot of things competing for precious space in your kitchen. As kitchen design trends toward smaller, more efficient spaces, it’s more important than ever to separate the must-haves from the kitchen drawer detritus of the future.
Here’s a simple guide to what you need in the kitchen, and what you don’t.
If something can be described as a gadget in the kitchen it’s probably not something you need. A good rule of thumb is that if it has an ingredient in the name, avoid it. From egg slicers to bean splitters, single-ingredient gadgets are the impulse buys of the kitchen.
For some reason garlic seems to attract a lot of equipment. Flexible tubes for peeling, mechanical presses for crushing, and even pieces of metal that supposedly get the smell off your hands – all answers to questions few were asking in the first place. All you need to deal with garlic is a knife. Bash it with the flat to peel it and squash it, or chop it with the blade.
Food processors can be useful, but in truth I moved mine from the “sometimes” cupboard to the “almost never” storage years ago.
The promise of efficiently chopping or shredding vegetables in seconds is a false economy for anyone halfway proficient with a knife or box grater. That said, if you’re regularly making short pastries, breadcrumbs, fish cakes or commercial quantities of coleslaw, it might not be a bad thing to have.
High-end, high-speed blenders might be seen as the ultimate in small appliance gimmickry, but here’s the thing – they’re great. I grew up in a kitchen where blenders were used regularly to make spice pastes, sauces and soups, and half your time was spent trying to coax them into working properly. The modern crop of high-speed devices are a game-changer. Even if you have no interest in smoothies, these can blitz super-fine flours, nut milks, pastes, sauces and soups without needing to strain them. I use mine a lot. Adding a heating element in it is a bit of a luxury, though.
Stick blenders are useful in that there is no transferring of hot liquids from pot to blender, but at the same time they don’t do as complete a job of blending as the vortex of a jug blender can. The thing that makes stick blenders really useful, however, is the small capacity food processor attachments they can power.
As with all appliance choices, what you need will depend entirely on what you cook. If you’re making lots of apple crumble, fish cakes and creamy soups perhaps a full-sized food processor and blender will be best for you, but otherwise you may