Gadgets – some people absolutely love them (me) and others can’t stand the idea of owning an item that usually only serves a single purpose. Generally most things a gadget does, you can do with some other kitchen basic, it just might not be as easy to get the task accomplished if you’re not a pro.
One of my favorite stories from selling gadgets is about a customer who came in shopping for a gift for his friend. He was hoping to purchase her a gadget of some sort — maybe for avocados since she really liked those. Perfect! We had just received several new avocado-related gadgets that I was very excited about. After showing him the options, he looked dismayed and told me that these were single-use items and he was hoping for something that did more than one thing. I tried holding back my laughter and told him that maybe a gadget wasn’t what he was after, then.
Your favorite gadgets are going to differ from other peoples’ because of what you love to cook the most. And of course, what works for one cook might not for another! Here’s some of my favorites.
|Makes the job quick and easy!
jo!e Strawberry Huller
|jo!e strawberry huller
There are TONS of strawberry hullers on the market. The purpose of a strawberry huller is to hull the strawberries, which is to remove the stems from the berries. The more basic ones that most people are accustomed to will look like a pair of wide tweezers and pulls the stem leaves out. They are starting to make some fancier ones these days, though! OXO makes a really interesting one that I kind of like, but I feel like it creates more work than necessary in trying to get the stem back out of the huller. This one by jo!e is my favorite because it has a serration around the metal part, which helps you really dig out the whole stem of the berry. I’ve also sometimes been successful at using this on tomatoes, so it has the potential to work on more than one item.
Peelers are a big deal to me. I remember having these awful metal ones growing up and having to peel a ton of potatoes because our family was so big and whining that my hand hurt by the end of it. I recall seeing indentations in my hands from the peeler! I vowed to never peel potatoes again; now it’s just to never own a cheap meal peeler again. 😉
I am a huge fan of the OXO peeler (it’s an extremely close 2nd place; I bought two for my mom!), but once after I moved, lost my OXO peeler and the store was out of this brand when I finally got around to replacing it. I remember this being the day before Thanksgiving and many types of mashed pototoes were going to be made amongst my roommates, as they were arguing over who made better ones. I am a fan of Zyliss, so I grabbed one of theirs, and it immediately became my favorite. I didn’t think it would because of the hard plastic versus OXO’s soft grip, but the shape is just perfect, in my hand at least. It’s slightly less bulky than the OXO one, so it’s my winner. They also make a soft-fruit peeler that looks identical in red; don’t buy the wrong peeler! (The regular one is available in other colors, too.)
Zyliss Avocado Tool
A few years ago everyone finally realized that people wanted something to help out with their avocados, and every new thing caught my eye as better than the last. Compared to a few other brands, the Zyliss is my top choice. It’s shape is like a knife, and for me that makes cutting the avocado easier since I am used to cutting it with a knife anyway. It’s size allows for scooping, and it’s interior is supposed to help with mashing but it doesn’t work in the bowls I utilize for guacamole so I’ve never used it for that purpose. The serrated edges aren’t very sharp to the touch but slice the avocado nicely. I like to chop it in half and then cut my slices right inside of the rind when I want it sliced for sandwiches.
|Zyliss avocado tool
|Chef’n SleekStor VeggiSteam
Chef’n Silicone Steamer
|The small in my 3qt. pot
I have sold many brands of metal vegetable steamer, and let me tell you, they all eventually break down. A lot of moving parts, the potential for rusting…plus they take up a lot of room in the drawer or cupboard. You might argue a silicone one takes up just as much room, but they are flexible and easier to work with in that regard. I love the Chef’n SleekStor VeggiSteam because it just works. OXO just came out with one that rolls up for better storage, but I don’t really see it saving that much space, and I don’t think the shape of it will mold to the pan quite like my Chef’n does. The silicone stays cool and/or cools right down, depending on if you get it hot or not. And unlike a metal steamer, you can throw this guy in the dishwasher. Comes in two sizes and multiple colors!
|Bottom of Chef’n silicone steamer; “feet”
Vacuvin Wine Sealer
|Vacuvin with stopper
I know, how dare I leave wine in the bottle? 😉 This thing is pretty darn inexpensive, especially compared to all the fancy doo-dads you can obtain in the wine world. And it’s literally the only thing that will actually SEAL the bottle, meaning I have actually traveled with a bottle of wine in my backpack around town feeling safe that it won’t spill! And of course the best part is, especially if you buy more expensive wine than I do, is that it keeps the wine fresh and tasting good. The Vacuvin literally sucks all the air out of the bottle, which is what breaks the wine down. It’s pretty nifty; you put the special cork on the bottle, place the Vacuvin on top, pump until you hear three “clicks” and it’s sealed! To open, you push the little knob in the center of the special cork, the pressure is released and the cork comes loose. I myself don’t use it for taste reasons, purely storage. I have some beautiful decorative glass wine corks but none of them actually cork the bottle if I want to put it back on my wine rack, which would require the bottle to lie on its side.
**A study done at Portland State University revealed that the Vacuvin loses its vacuum pressure over several hours, so real wine enthusiasts are starting to spurn this gadget, but like I said, it’s amazing for actual storage if you’re buying a cork/stopper and it’s pretty darn inexpensive.
zak! Garlic Peeler
|zak! garlic peeler
I cannot tell you how many years I grumbled at my garlic before I finally brought one of these home, and man has it changed my life! I know you’re supposed to be able to do this easily with the back of a knife, but I can’t. The zak! garlic peeler is probably the easiest to find, comes in fun colors and is a nice, easy-to-clean silicone. I’ve seen others that looked just like the “rubber husband” Tupperware gadget that helps you open jars, so if you already have one of those, try rolling your garlic around in it and see if it will peel! It was literally just a square piece of rubbery material, so I don’t think it actually has to be made of silicone, but silicone will last longer if you’re in the market for something new. The zak! one can actually even go in the dishwasher.
I had seen the OXO brand clips when they first came out and told my mom about them, and a month or so later QVC was selling these awesome ones called Pull Ties. She bought a few sets for Christmas presents and I think I ended up with most of them because I love them so much! I absolutely hate trying to use chip clips on freezer bags as they never seem to hold. I also prefer to purchase bakery rolls at the grocery store but can never eat them all before they go bad, so I like to freeze them but feel ridiculous using the expensive Ziploc freezer bags for cheap buns! This way I can use the bag they came in.