Clare Hunt sniffs out some gadgets that will become our best friends in the kitchen
For a dedicated foodie, browsing around a kitchen shop is nothing short of joyous. But even a really, really dedicated foodie would be hard-pressed to make use of every gadget out there. Admittedly, many contraptions exist when they probably don't need to. Step forward the banana guard, strawberry slicer and egg separator – we've got all those things covered without the participation of a 'plasticky doo-dah', thanks very much. On the other hand, there are lots of innovations that have changed the way we cook, encouraged us to cook more or made the act of cooking just that bit more pleasurable. From modest to mighty, there's a gadget for just about everything.
Some cookery is scientific, some a little more slapdash. When you're looking for precision in the kitchen, digital devices can make success just that bit more certain.
A collaboration between Heston Blumenthal and Salter, the Electronic Digital Dual Kitchen Timer steps up from the competition. Not only can you set two separate timers for up to 100 hours – it counts up or down (depending on your preference) – it also has a 'turn reminder' to make sure you flip your burgers at the optimum moment. £19.99.
When tempering chocolate, boiling caramel or bubbling preserves, reaching the right temperature is critical. Enter the Silicone Thermo Spoon from KitchenCraft. The flexible silicone spoon has an integrated (but removable) thermometer probe and digital display so you can stir and measure at the same time. £17.95.
With the Morphy Richards 3-in-1 Scales you can weigh, measure and mix in one fell swoop. The stainless-steel bowl features multi-volume liquid measures and clips into the handheld digital scales. Use the tare function to reset the scales after adding each ingredient, then add everything together in the mixing-bowl-come-jug. £29.99.
It's the little fiddly jobs that take time in the kitchen. And if they're jobs you do over and over, they can start to grind on your nerves. Luckily, the great minds of kitchen gadget invention have simple solutions for pretty much every eventuality.
Kale and woody herbs like rosemary and thyme have nice bits and nasty bits. The gnarly stalks can be a pain to remove and are distinctly unpleasant if you find one in your mouth. The almost ridiculously simple Kale & Herb Stripper, from Chef'n, strips the leaves from the stalks in a trice and features eight holes of different sizes for maximum versatility. £7.99.
Juicing a lemon: how hard can it be? Very hard, if the multitude of lemon squeezers on the market is anything to go by. For a satisfyingly straightforward way of taking a lemon and getting the juice out, try the Eddingtons Lemon Squeezer. Cut your lemon in half, squish it between the two bowls of the squeezer, catch the juice as it comes out. It's pip free and improbably satisfying. £8.95.
Coffee has become a high-tech performance in recent years, but Kilner has wound things back to a gentler time with their Coffee Grinder. The stainless-steel grinding mechanism can be adjusted for a fine, medium or coarse grind and sits atop a Kilner jar. Just pop in your beans, turn the handle and watch your coffee drop into the storage jar. No fuss or science there. £29.99.
When it comes to kitchen electronics, the selection is wide and prices can be eye-watering. Many machines will look glamorous on the counter but rarely, if ever, be used. Think about what you actually want to do with your machine and do your research – even if it boggles your mind. The coolest-looking model isn't always the best performer.
Raw food is a trend that doesn't look like it's going away, and if you're a lover of a bright-green veggie smoothie, you may have been tempted by a blender. The RPM Professional Blender from L'Equip is a powerful alternative to some of the more breathtakingly expensive jug blenders out there. It can cope with tough and fibrous ingredients and has an 8-pronged blade to ensure even, smooth blending. RRP £349.
Food processors can be huge time savers (if you ignore the washing up element) but they can also represent a mega investment. The Andrew James Multifunctional Food Processor has understated good looks and it blends, juices, chops, grinds and whisks without breaking the bank. £90.
If baking's your thing, a stand mixer takes the arm-ache out of kneading, mixing and whisking. It used to be a straight stand-off between Kenwood and KitchenAid, but the competition is hotting up these days. The Precision Stand Mixer from Cuisinart has glossy good looks (with the retro edge favoured by stand-mixer manufacturers) and versatile functionality. 12 speeds and a 5.2 litre bowl mean it's game for most tasks. £299.99.
While there's still a lot to be said for a saucepan on the hob or Pyrex in the oven, cooking gadgets can add extra fun or bring ultimate convenience to your kitchen adventures.
Go all-American with the Stove Top Waffle Maker from KitchenCraft. Suitable for all hob types (except induction), this unfussy iron heats quickly and evenly; its non-stick coating promises easy release of hot, crispy waffles every time. A sure-fire way to make yourself everyone's favourite cook. £24.99.
If the delicious aroma of a home-cooked meal appeals, a Crock Pot Slow Cooker could be a winner. Everything from pot roasts to puds are possible, with a bit of experimentation. Ideal if you're not a great fan of standing over the stove at the end of the day. £43.98 for a 3.5 litre version.
The cooking equivalent of the Tardis, KitchenAid's Artisan Cook Processor boasts enough intelligence to earn it a place on Mastermind. It's hard to comprehend that one – admittedly quite industrial looking – machine can replace pretty much every other device in the kitchen. From chopping to frying, kneading to blending, this clever machine will help you boil, fry, stew and steam your way to delicious meals. At £764 though, you'll really need to use it a lot.
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