On average, we spend over two hours per day in the kitchen preparing meals and cleaning up, so it’s no surprise that many are always on the lookout for a gadget to make the job quicker and easier. Clever inventors have developed numerous items that have changed the way we cook. Electric mixers have replaced hand beaters, food processors help us to chop, dice, and slice to perfection, and the microwave oven has revolutionized the way we cook.
Then we have those unusual and sometimes weird inventions. We see them every day on online shopping sites, kitchen shows, and in our chain stores and supermarkets: must-have gadgets that are going to save us time in the kitchen. Some of them truly are ingenious and make our daily cooking easier. Others seemed like a great idea when we originally bought them but lie forgotten at the back of the kitchen drawer. And then there are the gadgets that we can’t believe were ever actually invented.
What’s lurking at the back of your kitchen cupboard?
Health authorities have been educating us for many years on the need to remove fat from our diets. Many of us have moved toward lower-fat cooking methods and ingredients—like grilling our fish instead of deep-frying it, choosing leaner cuts of meat, and including more fresh fruits and vegetables in our diets.
However, the Fat Magnet has become an attractive alternative for health-conscious cooks. According to the marketing claims, you can still cook your fatty stews, but this handy gadget will successfully remove the harmful fat from your meals.
Simply freeze the handy gadget for a couple of hours. Then skim the metal plate over your soups and stews. It will basically pick the fat up, solidifying it to be easily scraped away, giving you a healthy, lower-fat meal.
Throughout history, people seem to have had little trouble picking bananas from the trees, peeling then, and chomping through them with their teeth. This popular fruit has been cultivated and eaten since ancient times, and in more cultured societies, we began slicing bananas to eat them more delicately or to sprinkle them across our morning cereal.
Knives have served well to slice our bananas for centuries, so it’s surprising that anyone even thought to invent a banana slicer. Therefore, it’s little wonder that it has become one of the most mocked kitchen gadgets available today.
The banana-shaped crescent of plastic has a number of blades which instantly slice through an entire banana at once. It’s perhaps useful for those with arthritis or other disabilities which make holding a knife difficult. For the rest of us, it would probably take longer to fossick in the kitchen drawer to find the gadget than it would to simply grab a knife and cut the banana.
Grapes have been one of the world’s most popular fruits since Neolithic times. Simply grab a handful off the nearest vine and nibble on them. Of course, it wasn’t long before we discovered how to make this handy fruit into wine.
Egyptologists have found depictions of servants peeling grapes for their wealthy masters. Older grape varieties had thicker skins, which may have been more palatable when peeled and seeded. However, cultivation over the centuries has led to grapes which are so thin-skinned and easy to eat that it’s surprising to find that there are actually people who peel grapes today.
Nevertheless, meet the grape peeler, a handy kitchen utensil with a thin wire loop that enables you to individually peel your grapes. It’s no doubt a godsend for serious cooks who don’t want grape skins in their recipes. The rest of us could eat a whole bunch of grapes in the time it takes to peel a few.
Do you like the idea of eating your Asian food with chopsticks, but you haven’t quite mastered the skill of successfully getting the food to your mouth? The Chork could be just what you need. This handy invention has a fork on one end and a set of chopsticks on the other.
The nifty plastic utensil is becoming popular in a number of fast food outlets, providing diners with options, depending upon one’s skill with eating utensils. Non-chopstick users can simply use the fork end to eat their fried rice in a traditional Western manner. Those who want to experience a little authentic Asian culture can use the chopstick side, reverting to the fork to save chasing those pesky portions of food around the bowl.
Experts can snap the two sections apart, transforming the Chork into a set of disposable plastic chopsticks. The utensil might be great fun to use at home, to teach the kids how to use chopsticks with their Chinese takeout.
When ordering pizza, we all end up with those leftover slices in the fridge the next morning. Many of us enjoy a slice of cold pizza for breakfast, while others prefer to reheat the pizza in the microwave or oven. This usually results in either a soggy mess or an overcooked, hard slice of pizza.
This is why the Pizza ReHeater was invented. The triangular tray utilizes a measured amount of water to absorb excess heat, enabling you to properly reheat your pizza in the microwave.
Do you enjoy chicken wings, ribs, or other finger foods but can’t stand the sticky mess? Most of us hate the greasy juices on our hands after tucking into a plate of wings. This is precisely why Trongs were invented. The handy silicone finger covers act as a pair of tongs to pick up messy foods, leaving your hands and fingers clean.
Simply place the claw-like utensils over each finger. Then pick up and chomp away at the messiest food without the risk of your hands being covered in a greasy, oily residue.
Peeling carrots and other cylindrical vegetables can be somewhat of a chore using a knife or a conventional vegetable peeler, so it’s little wonder that someone has invented an ingenious way to complete the task more quickly. Designed in Israel, the Karoto looks and works exactly like an oversize pencil sharpener. Simply place the vegetables into the hole and twist, just like sharpening a pencil.
The device is said to enable you to peel the skin from carrots in as few as 30 seconds, without removing skin from your fingers in the process. So very simple yet effective.
Eating spaghetti can be a messy business, unless you’ve mastered the art of putting your fork into the pasta, taking a couple of twirls, and lifting the bundle into your mouth like a true Italian. If you are after a little more precision, you can also use a spoon to help with the procedure.
Or you can try the Hog Wild Twirling Spaghetti Fork. The battery-operated piece of cutlery automatically twirls the spaghetti onto your fork for you to lift into your mouth.
Some hilarious videos exist online of kids and adults alike attempting to eat with this invention. It certainly has the potential to make a lot more of a mess than the simple, time-honored method of spaghetti-eating. On the other hand, it may make mealtime more fun for kids, if possibly messier to clean up after for Mom.
There are two types of people in the world: dunkers and non-dunkers. For many, dipping Oreos into a mug of warm milk or coffee is the ultimate comfort food. Others dislike the soggy mess that ends up floating in their cups.
You would think that dunking is such a simple process that it couldn’t be perfected. Yet you can now buy cookie dunkers, such as the Dipr, to make your morning coffee even easier.
These cookie dippers range from simple, fork-like contraptions that enable you to pick up your cookie and dunk to magnetic devices that enable you to safely submerge your cookies into your milk. How did we ever manage to dunk our cookies without these?
Making the morning coffee is a fairly simple process. Many of us have an automatic tea or coffee maker from which we simply pour our morning brew. Others can’t face the morning without their fresh barista coffee.
For those of us who prefer instant, we spoon in the coffee or jiggle a tea bag, pour on the hot water, and then perhaps add a little sugar and milk for taste. The spoon is no doubt still in the mug to make those couple of stirs to complete the perfect cup of coffee.
However, it seems that this simple process became a little much for some, hence the invention of the self-stirring coffee mug. The mug holds two small batteries which power a small whisk to stir your beverage when you press the button on the handle.
Isn’t that what the spoon was for?
Lesley Connor is a retired Australian newspaper editor, who provides articles for online publications and her own travel blog.