I'm not big into kitchen gadgets, but I have a kitchen and there's more than a few tools I've come to love over the years. I've slowly built up a kitchen with all the things I need and like... such as my matching Sophie Conran dishes and my collection of enamel bowls. But even more than these, I simply couldn't cook happily without these five gadgets. They make me a better cook and life in the kitchen easier.
I've defined "gadget" as something with a little more design to it than a basic kitchen tool. So this list doesn't include wooden spoons, chef's knives, cast iron pans, spatulas, cutting boards or other basic kitchen tools. It also doesn't include small electrics like food processors, which is another thing I couldn't do without. Leave a comment if you have any favorite gadgets you'd like to share!
Kuhn Rikon Epicurean Garlic Press
I only recently bought a garlic press after going my whole cooking life without one. I thought it was just as easy to flatten and chop a garlic clove as it would be to use a garlic press, and I would be improving my knife skills and saving myself from the awful chore of washing and cleaning a press. And perhaps I'm still in the honeymoon phase but my new garlic press is the best.
I did buy the best so maybe that's why I feel this why. Kuhn Rikon is highly recommended because it minces with less effort than other garlic presses (thanks to its curved handle). The large sieve hinges out to easily clean under running water. I bought mine at Plenty but it's also sold at Muffet & Louisa and online. It's expensive but worth it, so very worth it.
Vintage aluminum juicer
This is a vintage Wear-Ever aluminum juicer for lemons, limes and oranges, made in Canada in the 1930's. I was first tipped off to this gadget by chef extraordinaire Heidi Fink at one of her cooking classes. The fact that it was vintage and hard to find made me want it all the more. But I've come to love it for a few reasons: a few easy presses and you have fresh citrus juice, it has a removable strainer that catches the seeds, and it has a spout which makes it easy to pour the juice and measure out what you need. It washes up easily and is clearly designed to last.
Ceramic ginger grater
A beauty, this gadget is a minimalists dream: simple, white and with nice edges. I can't remember what I did before having this handy grater, but likely choking on chunks of ginger. With rows of sharp teeth, this grater easily grates and juices fresh ginger root and it's easy to wash. I bought mine at Ming Wo Cookware in Vancouver but I've seen them around at various kitchen shops.
A good electronic scale is crucial for baking. I don't do a lot of baking but I still find my kitchen scale essential when it comes to cooking soups, stews or anything that I need to weigh vegetables in half, one or two pound quantities. I have two vintage EVA Gepo wall scales from Denmark, one in red and the other in yellow. I love both of them- not because they're Danish (I do love Danish design!) but because they hang from the wall, take up no counter space and are always ready to use.
Pepper and Salt mills
Another kitchen essential that I've had so long I don't know what I'd do without are my salt and pepper grinders. Good salt and pepper mills are great for grinding fresh salt and pepper to season you cooking with. Peugeot is considered the best for quality, durability and classic good looks. I especially like the pepper mill because you can adjust the size of grind- a larger grind for salad dressings or pasta sauces and a fine grind when you want a more subtle seasoning.