Thanks for all those great comments on using or not using scales.  It’s a hopeful trend.  It got me thinking about useful kitchen tools, just as Ed Charles, Australian journalist and blogger, has been inspired by The Elements of Cooking to consider his own kitchen and not what is useful but what isn’t and asks people to name their least useful kitchen tool.Piemakerwpm118_2

I’m not the first to suggest that a tool that has only a single use is just as useful in the garbage as it is in your drawer.  A mango slicer, please.  An egg separater—Jesus, an egg separator!  We are born with the perfect egg separators, right at the end of our arms!  Why would anyone be moved to invent one? Sarah on Ed’s blog said her “pie maker” was the most useless thing in her kitchen.  Another commented that they love their pie maker.  What is a pie maker?!  I’ve never heard of a pie maker.  I use my egg separators to make pies! (Google search: sunbeam pie maker, at right.)

I was sure I had some useless crap stored in a box in the basement but no—I don’t have a single useless gadget any more.  I even threw out those ridiculous corn cob shaped corn holders my mother puts in my Christmas stocking every year.  I only have practical gadgets, so I took a picture of them.  Were I forbidden to use any one of them, I would be cranky indeed.  Were I to go stage in a kitchen, I’d feel pretty confident that if I had these items, I could get just about anything I needed done.

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                                                                                                                        Photo NOT by Donna
My favorite kitchen gadgets:
From right to left, big knife and little knife, rubber spatula, wood spoon with flat edge, fish spatula, microplane, instant read thermometer, Sharpie, sauce whip, string, fine mesh strainer, two spoons, measuring spoons, peeler, heavy side towel for grabbing hot things, and, the most important tool in the kitchen, kosher salt.

Comments welcome: be brief: single most valuable and single least valuable kitchen gadget.

post script 4/30: many people have noted their affection for tongs and wondered how this tool could not be pictured here. I have one good sturdy set of tongs that hang from the bar to the left of the hood and i use them all the time. But i don’t think they should be considered an essential kitchen tool. I know most cooks will disagree and I understand why.

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208 Wonderful responses to “My Favorite Kitchen “Gadgets””

  • Lucas

    A large nonstick skillet and a knife are the most important (I can’t decide between them). Most useless: a juicer my girlfriend bought at a yard sale. Never used once in our home, and covered in dust. I would love to throw it away, but she has nostalgia for fresh-squeezed carrot juice.

  • Sharon

    I’m surprised tongs are not on your list! I suppose I could do without them but why would I want to ;)

    I use:
    Blender (I make my kids smoothies, gazpacho in summer etc.)

    KitchenAid Mixer ( I could do without but it makes such short work of creaming butter, certain very sticky dough’s like pizza dough ) If mine were to disappear, I would live but I would miss it.

    Salad Spinner: hmmm, I’m sure I’ll get a lot of slack for this but…
    I wash my lettuce by submerging in the bowl part, pour the lettuce into the strainer part… my kids take turns with the spinning then I’m left with nice dry salad.

    I use to put the lettuce in a bowl, pull it out and drain in a colander, than use copious amounts of paper towels to drain and pat dry and it still wouldn’t be as dry as the spinner.

    Bottom line, it saves my time, I have the space for it, and its an easy way to get my kids involved in making the meal.

  • Kitt

    Tough question! Most valuable: My cleaver. But if you’re discounting knives as “gadgets,” then silicone spatulas top my list. How many spatulas did I accidentally melt before these came along?

    Least valuable: avocado slicer. But I still use it.

  • Sonya

    I couldn’t live without my immersion blender. I tend to use them a little rougher than recommended, so I end up replacing them every year or two, but they are always replaced within 24 hours of death.

    Useless: butter slicers

    Question for the masses: Anybody know of a good egg/mushroom/strawberry slicer that has blades instead of wires?

  • cory barrett

    What no offset spatula?!?! i couldn’t live a day with out mine, by far the most important to me.

    Least important… I hate measuring cups of differnt sizes 1/2 cup, 1 cup, 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup…. scale it.

  • Tyler

    The most important is a great chef’s knife, but a close second is a good pair of tongs.

    And I would say the apple slicer thing (that circle with the wire that usually cuts half the core off doesn’t ever work) is very useless.