The German word “eierschalensollbruchstellenverursacher” translates as “eggshell predetermined breaking point cause.” It describes one of the most useless cooking gadgets I’ve ever heard of, a tool that lets you remove the top of an egg without cracking the rest of the shell.
If you want to present a softboiled egg in an elegant cup during breakfast, I suppose this tool will get the job done. But it strikes me as the quintessential example of something that only serves to add clutter to your kitchen drawers.
A quick survey of my own kitchen reveals at least 20 devices collected over the years that, while often evoking fond memories of travels or cooking adventures, could mostly be replaced by some essential kitchen tools. These cooking gadgets range from single-use to the practically useless to the completely whimsical (but super-fun!). If you’re a home cook like me, with precious drawer and cabinet space, you might consider relegating some of these items to the storage closet — or the dustbin.
- The wooden fork with holes that help you measure the right amount of pasta before cooking
- The ceramic tortilla warmer
- The quesadilla maker
- The empanada press
- The matcha tea whisk
- The tea ball infuser
- The cherry pitter
- The apple corer
- The pie beads and silicone crust wrapper
- The cheese shaver
Practically useless tools
- The battery-operated automatic stirrer called, well, Stirr that I recently received as a gift. I tried using it to mix a cake the other day and it barely stood up in the bowl. A whisk or a stand mixer would have been a much better choice!
- The battery-powered ice cream cone that, I guess, rotates so you don’t have to turn the ice cream while you’re licking it. As an alternative, I’d suggest using your wrist.
- The hot chocolate frother that aerates the drink after mixing. Again, a whisk would do a better job here.
- The Slap Chop that slices! And dices! And minces! I think that’s what knives are for.
Whimsical but fun
- The bagel guillotine (although, I have to admit, it slices my bagels perfectly every time)
- The bear claws for shredding pulled pork or other meat
- The hedgehog-shaped cheese grater
- The dinosaur-shaped taco holder
In a recent video on Master Class, Chef Thomas Keller explained that both professional chefs and home cooks can benefit by eliminating unnecessary tools in their kitchens. And in this category he includes measuring cups and spoons, which he says can be completely eliminated when you measure by weight instead of volume. “I’m happy enough to be able to use my essential tools to accomplish anything that any gadget can do for me, or any convenience a gadget can offer,” Keller said.
So what are the essential tools a home cook needs? With inspiration from Keller, I’d take these items, along with my digital scale, to my desert island kitchen:
- Good knives and kitchen shears
- Cutting boards
- Spatulas, spoons, ladles, and whisks
- Tongs and tweezers
- A microplane grater
- A vegetable parer
- A strainer
- Cheesecloth and kitchen twine
What other cooking tools do you find essential, and what are the most ridiculous gadgets that take up space in your kitchen? Let me know in the comments!
What I Ate: Lemon snacking cake with coconut glaze