Kitchen gadgets: Is there any point?

By | May 9, 2011

If you’ve ever been in a kitchen or home goods store, you’ve seen them: Those rows of cooking gadgets promising to make specific kitchen jobs easier.

Back in the States, I’d stare at the wall of gadgets in Bed, Bath & Beyond, wondering why I suddenly felt that just about all of them were absolutely necessary.

There was that lime-green avocado slicer that promised perfect slices every time, the $30 kiwi peeler, the cookie dough scooper for baking identical treats.

They have these sort of gadgets here in Israel, too, though maybe not to the same extent and probably not at the same price levels.

Are these items actually useful, or it it all a marketing gimmick?

A quick survey of my own kitchen reveals just a handful of gadgets:

  • purple silicone pastry brush
  • lemon juicer
  • “Garlic Zoom” garlic mincer
  • pizza wheel
  • ice cream scooper with cow handle

Come to think of it, I do actually use all of my “gadgets” pretty often. The pizza wheel does a nice job, not only with our homemade whole wheat pizzas, but also with the vegetable strudel my husband loves. I use the lemon juicer whenever I squeeze fresh lemon juice (which is all the time) and as for the ice cream scooper, I can’t say the cow handle makes it more efficient, but it certainly makes things more fun.

My favorite, though, is the Garlic Zoom.

I nearly went crazy mincing garlic by hand in the first few weeks of our marriage. But then a friend of my mother’s mentioned she’d be visiting Israel soon and could bring along something small for me. A garlic mincer, I told my mother. Please, please, send me a garlic mincer.

I didn’t want just any mincer, though. I had seen the Garlic Zoom video online at Bed, Bath & Beyond and had my heart set on that one. Imma happily obliged. (Thanks, Imma.)

In the months since, I’ve become convinced that every woman needs a Garlic Zoom. The mincing is easy and quick, and as long as the wheels and your hard surface are dry, it works like a dream. My one complaint is that it can be hard to clean, but so far, I’d still get one for all my engaged friends.

I think the bottom line on kitchen gadgets is to go for the ones you expect to use most often and avoid everything else.

What do you think? Anyone splurge on a kiwi peeler recently?


7 Comments

Sandy on February 16, 2012 at 12:58 am.

I have to admit that I’ve been married 28 years & only recently (within the past 2 years) acquired 2 tools that I have no idea how I managed without for so long: a box grater and a hand mixer. I do have a food processor, but sometimes I just don’t want to clean the darn thing. My family laughs when I bring out either (or both) of my “toys” and I still marvel at how I managed to get along without them for over 25 years!

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Tali Simon on February 16, 2012 at 10:06 pm.

I know what you mean about the food processor. As much as I love mine, sometimes I really can’t be bothered to clean the five pieces I’ll need for chopping some veggies.

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Nossi @ The Kosher Gastronome on February 17, 2012 at 6:04 am.

It’s hard to say what’s considered a “gadget” and what’s a “necessity” ..I don’t think everyone needs a lime and an orange and a grapefruit juicer, or a cake pop maker, or a pineapple corer…but something that’s pretty useful, like a pizza cutter, or an ice cream scoop, are more necessities than gadget…and there’s not question a food processor is way more than a gadget…

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Tali Simon on February 17, 2012 at 1:39 pm.

I think even basic gadgets like ice cream scoopers and pizza wheels aren’t totally necessary. You could just use a good knife for the wheel or a spoon instead of the hard-core scooper.

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elana on August 27, 2012 at 2:25 pm.

just saw this yesterday and i wish i had one for rosh hashana….check out the video about 30 seconds in…
http://www.leahcookskosher.com/show_recipe.php?id_recipe=89

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Mimi on October 20, 2012 at 9:27 pm.

I threw out my garlic press years ago, after reading Elizabeth David’s advice: smash the clove with the blade of your knife to loosen the skin, chop the peeled clove coarsely, then scrape the chopped pieces with the edge of the knife to obtain a paste. No more digging little bits of garlic out of a gadget with the point of a knife; no more washing said gadget. And it takes seconds. Especially great when you need just a smidge of garlic, like for salad dressing. Another good thing: the unwashed chopping block is going to be very garlicky, which gives a slight garlic flavor to cucumbers or tomatoes (or anything else) that you slice on it. If you love garlic, that is!

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Tali Simon on October 20, 2012 at 11:10 pm.

I moved to a garlic press after my Garlic Zoom became too hard to clean, and I really love it. To each her own, right?

Nice tip about the chopping block.

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