Kitchen gadgets are to cooks like Jimmy Choo shoes are to stylish women — you can never have too many (as our kitchen drawers attest) and there is one you would never be without.
"The top selling kitchen gadget right now is the vegetable spiralizer," said Gary Pemble, manager of Different Drummer Kitchens in Lenox, "It's fairly new on the market and it's especially popular this time of year." He added the best seller at the Lenox shop was an Oxo tabletop spiralizer.
Also popular are kitchen shears, Pemble said. "They are supremely useful in the kitchen. They're an indispensable product that have so many uses.
He named a few other gadgets a cook shouldn't be without:
- Microplane. " It's good for lots of things — garlic, cheese, lemon zest."
- Mandolin slicer. "It was a predecessor to the spiralizer," he explained. "It's helpful for potatoes au gratin and anything you want to have the same consistency in slices. It's important to have the same thickness for the foods to cook consistency." He added the mandolin also juliennes vegetables.
- Immersion blender. "It has lots of uses — soups, smoothies," Pemble said, adding some of the models have a potato masher and can be used as a mini-food processor. "It's not a one-trick pony; you're getting the whole package."
-Food scale. "This is extremely useful if you are a baker. You need consistency in baking and weighing, say flour, is more consistent than measuring it in cups."
We asked staff members what their favorite kitchen gadget was — and why. Here are their picks:
"I cannot live without my spiralizer! When I went grain-free and of a more Paleo nature, I thought, 'How on earth can I possibly live without my favorite pasta dishes?' But now whether it's beets, zucchini, sweet potato or whatever I can think of, I can now enjoy all my favorite dishes and have a little fun still with the twirl of the fork!"
— Beth Maturevich, Digital sales specialist for New England Newspapers
"I can't do without my vegetable peeler. And also my egg cups."
— Peter Greenberg, Senior IT tech
"The Simplex garlic press. Unlike so many of today's kitchen tools, it's solid metal. Like its name, it's simple: You squeeze the two handles together, which push a piston against the garlic clove, forcing it through the perforations. Period. No fancy cleaning apparatus, no high-tech scuba gear. Most important, it's designed to get the maximum amount of squeezed garlic out of the clove with a minimum of hand pressure. Many newer, more sophisticated models are inefficient and don't yield much crushed garlic. A classic, like the Kitchen Aid mixer, that has never been improved upon."
— Chan Lowe, Deputy editorial page editor, The Berkshire Eagle
"My cheap vegetable slicer! Slices onion, garlic, celery and carrots nice and thin. Just watch your knuckles!"
— Cicely Eastman, The Brattleboro Reformer
"I love kitchen gadgets, but the one I love the most is my pair of onion glasses. Judith bought them for [us] many years ago, and you can slice onions without tearing up. Pure magic."
— Fredric Rutberg, President and publisher, New England Newspapers
"I use my grandmother's Foley grinder to make tomato sauce. It is at least 80 years old."
— Ben Garver, photographer, The Berkshire Eagle
"A dough scraper. I use it to scrape flour into a pile when I'm kneading dough. I scrape my work surface afterword and everything comes clean. It's great for cutting dough into portions and won't hurt your pans when using it to cut brownies."
— Jennifer Huberdeau, interim managing editor for news, The Berkshire Eagle
"If I could bring only one kitchen gadget with me to a deserted island, it would be my kitchen scissors. I use them to cut everything — chicken, string, herbs, the dog's pills, plastic packages and bags, marshmallows ... Plus, there is a bottle opener on one handle, a screwdriver head on the other and between them ridges for opening a small jar cover. And they pop apart for easy cleaning. What's not to like?"
— Margaret Button, Associate features editor, The Berkshire Eagle
"My old-fashioned potato masher, which I bought almost 10 years ago at a tag sale for 50 cents. With it's long, sturdy handle and wide, easy-to-clean metal squiggly masher on the end, it's the perfect tool for just about any recipe that requires mixing things by hand. The funny thing is, I don't think I've ever used it to smash potatoes, but rather for mushing bananas for banana bread or smoothies, fruit for desserts or jams and even cooked vegetables for when I need to hide them in my toddler's food."
— Lindsey Hollenbaugh, Features Editor
"Non-stick silicone baking mats are perfect for lazy bakers who don't like cleaning things. When I bake cookies, I simply pick up the baking mat and they slide right off. All I have to do is clean off the baking mat."
— Stephanie Zollshan, photographer, The Berkshire Eagle