home cooked truths 5 - kitchen gadgets

Video: Kitchen gadgets and their false claims

Gavin Wren Food Opinion Pieces, Food Techniques, Writing, YouTube Food Videos

I hate clutter

Being a big food eater (I don’t mean that I’m big, but that my interest in the aforementioned subject looms overwhelmingly across large swathes of my conscious and unconscious existence), the accumulation of kitchen gadgets presents a difficult situation. Even if you have merely a whimsical attraction to cooking then you’ll be well aware that the food industry is a flabbergastingly vast arena in which your hard earned pennies can be tempted away from you by exciting, new, time & energy saving gadgets and accoutrements. There are tools and widgets for doing everything and each individual job is catered for by a niche product that will REVOLUTIONISE the way you complete that task if you were to believe the manufacturers. This level of product innovation is fabulous on many levels yet it presents us consumers with some very hard choices.

You’re all guilty

I’m guessing that almost everyone owns at least one item of kitchen paraphernalia that has been bought, used once for a specific task then archived and left to dwell under the counter permanently, either on purpose due to discovering that it’s abilities were not aligned perfectly to the hype surrounding it’s purported benefits, or simply through the discovery that it’s presence is largely extraneous to your day to day needs. Or thirdly, because it’s a pain in the arse to clean.

If I owned an extremely large kitchen with lots of capacious cupboards and had a generous disposable income, I could allocate many cupboards or drawers to these products. One drawer for baking tools, one for prep tools, one for serving tools, how incredibly exciting it would all be. Every time I saw a cool new revolutionary device, I could buy it, use it, and then vitally, I would have space to store it. When my cupboards became filled to bursting with cheap, flimsy, moulded plastic time savers after, oooh, probably a couple of weeks, I could go to a self storage place and rent a large unit, fit it out with wall to wall, floor to ceiling industrial racking and begin storing them there, alphabetised into storage boxes so I could easily access them when needed.

Because that’s how the kitchen gadget market feels to me, that if I embraced the legion products that are available to make my life easier I’d need to take over Amazon UK’s central distribution warehouse and staff to help store and index them.

Down with washing up!

Ultimately, the fundamental problem with absolutely any kitchen tool, other than my holy trinity of a knife, spoon and chopping board is they represent more washing up, and often more fiddly washing up at that. During periods of delusional fantasies, I dream of a kitchen where washing up doesn’t exist, or at least is carried out by someone else. Professional chefs employ kitchen porters whose specific job is to handle the pot wash, I’ve worked in that very position and discovered it’s a very, very demanding job. That’s because washing up is hard work and it sucks.

So every time that I add an extra item of equipment to my food preparation, I’m also adding a piece of washing up the mounting pile, which means I will need to contribute greater, irrecoverable precious seconds of my valuable life to the tiresome task of washing up. I’d much rather stare at a blank wall, or sit on the loo than do the washing up. So once I’ve washed up my knife, spoon and chopping board, I want as little else left to wash up as possible.

The humble garlic crusher

This ubiquitous little device is beloved by almost every home cook I meet. Why? Because the single press of the handles, that sole squish of a little garlic clove which is tentatively clenched between the macerating metal plates of the device takes about half a second and produces perfectly crushed garlic. What kind of Super(wo)man would you need to be to manually crush garlic cloves in a split second? But that unique selling point comes crashing down around you when you face the hellish torment of trying to wash it up, especially if you’ve got loads of bits of stubborn garlic skin stuck in the holes and they don’t want to come out. Most commonly I only crush one or two cloves of garlic at a time, and I’m not convinced that a garlic crusher is a time saving device, despite that sudden rush of productivity-hack-endorphins when you press those levers together, spouting pureed Allium Sativum all over your chopping board.

My manifesto

So I’ve worked out my position on these gadgets. I’ve come up with statement of intent to clarify whether or not I will use a time saving gadget. To justify the use of any additional device, the combined fetching, usage and cleaning time of an instrument must be significantly less than the time spent doing the exact same task without any more than the bare essentials. When I say significantly less, I mean loads less, not just ‘that’s swift’, but moralise ‘OMFG that was quick’.

That sounds obvious like an obvious point, huh? Well maybe not. So I’ve made a quick video to find out, using a garlic crusher to demonstrate.


Well, there you go. A garlic crusher is actually a slower way to crush garlic than using a knife to crush it. You heard it first here folks, on brainfoodstudio.com!

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