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What’s the best feature of your kitchen gadgets?

Kitchen appliances

Many of us own at least a couple of kitchen gadgets – appliances designed to make everyday cooking and baking tasks easier. But what’s the difference between a favourite food prep product and the one that sits in the back of the cupboard gathering dust?

For me, it doesn’t always come down to how well the appliance does its job, or even how fast it is. I don’t have a dishwasher at home, so my gadgets that are easiest to clean seem to get the most use in my kitchen.

Kitchen gadgets

My mum bought me a great Kenwood food processor for my last birthday which made delicious hummus quickly on two occasions. But since the large bowl and blade were such a pain to wash, I now never think to use it when I’m preparing an elaborate meal (and I’m more likely to buy my hummus from the local supermarket anyway).

Similarly, my housemate loves smoothies and was quick to jump on the personal blender trend. A year later it’s safe to say we all have a love/hate relationship with her noisy Nutribullet. While it makes tasty, healthy smoothies and can even blend pine nuts for a homemade pesto, it ruins all chance of having a conversation or listening to the radio when it’s switched on in our shared living space.

Buying the right appliance

Our reviews test scores are broken down into different features, so if you have a particular product bugbear you can make sure to avoid it. But it can be hard to know before you buy whether a kitchen appliance is going to revolutionise the way you cook or spend its life unloved in a drawer.

What makes a product a fad or a kitchen staple? It seems to be different for everyone. Some people love hybrid products, as one appliance with lots of different accessories saves space and money over time by not having to shell out for each individual gadget.

Or if you don’t need all the capabilities of a (often very large) hybrid appliance, you can buy smaller, cheaper and more specialised gadgets that are often less expensive and easier to store.

Your kitchen preferences

What matters most to you when buying and using new food prep products?

Maybe like me, you can’t stand spending ages washing up every night, you hate waiting around for your gadget to work its magic, or you simply want a product that does its job well. Let us know by voting in the poll or leaving a comment below.


Best kitchen gadget: the electric kettle.

I quite agree. It’s the only one that is virtually indispensable.

That might be why Which? tested kettles for its first issue, a little over 60 years ago. An indispensable product for dispensing boiling water.

I would definitely agree! It’s interesting though because it’s such a staple in the UK but elsewhere it would not be seen in the same way. The American equivalent may be a coffee maker :O

By the way, we just got a Tassimo and the tea pods are not good 👎 We’ve reverted back to the classic tea bag.

Tea bag? Have you tried investing in real tea leaves and a china tea pot? I’d recommend a trial.

I knew someone would pull me up on that 🙁 Yes I might need to experiment! Is there any you would recommend?

We use a white china pot and a traditional tea strainer, and M&S Luxury Gold Loose Tea (“other teas are available”). Not as convenient as tea bags, but I’d suggest a far nicer drink. You can get tea pots with infusers built in to contain the tea leaves and they work well.

If you do invest, please let us know how your experiments progress.

Have a Quooker and the kettle is eminently dispensable.

As for tea bags etc where they have plstic components … I think we need a Conversation on that : )

Presumably one of these has to remain on permanently in order to supply instant boiling water. Am I right in saying that there is a storage tank as part of the kit? I can see the advantage of boiling water for tea and cooking when ever it is wanted, but is this an added electricity bill for the household? I’ve often looked at these and wondered.

I saw an advert on the front page of the D. Telegraph the other day for a new Quooker system that features a pull-out hose so you can spray around the sink area. Although it can produce boiling water as well as cold and filtered water, the boil function is disabled once the hose is deployed, presumably in order to avoid scalding. The advert made no mention of how the water is continuously maintained at boiling point and I have often wondered whether there is any energy saving.

I expect that taps that produce boiling water will gain popularity because of the amount of money that many are spend on new kitchens. It’s worth factoring in the maintenance cost, particularly if you live in a hard water area.

The Qooker operation is shown here http://www.quooker.co.uk/fileupload/Documentation_UK/Facts_and_figures_UK.pdf
I’m sure its very convenient for making hot drinks, for example, but my value-for-money mind is quite happy with our new, quick, quiet, taint-free £30 delivered Russell Hobbs Dome kettle. A handy feature is that it can be detached from its base to transport boiled water to anywhere in or out of the house.

This morning I used a kettle filled with boiling water to clean a washbasin drain that has been installed horizontally rather than at an angle. Like Malcolm, I appreciate the portability of an electric kettle.

What puts me off having a hot water tap is the thought of having to grovel under the sink to remove it for servicing, or paying someone else to do this. Here is a video showing what is involved: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bc7bpswqHqY Anyone who does have one of these devices installed should check that the power socket is not mounted directly under the sink, where it could get wet. The video shows poor practice in this respect.

Limescale can be prevented by using a water softener but that may remove essential nutrients from tap water.

I have found that tea bags in my compost bin have NOT degraded after more than a year. Why do they have to contain plastic? – isn’t there enough in the enviroment already? I’ve gone back to my tea pot and loose tea. No hassle.

Sue Cox says:
26 February 2018

Try Miles west country tea.

but the Colombian coffee is great

Yes this is number one. No question about it. How many kettles go on in the adverts of a TV programme. We are always using it. Sometimes even without thinking, we automatically put the kettle on.

My favourite kitchen gadget at the moment is a breadmaker and it passes the important test of being easy to clean. I’m not to keen on single-function products but the variety of breads that can be produced with little effort compensates for this.

I must replace my Kenwood food processor which is worn out, thanks to use of a plastic component that should have been made of metal. Cleaning it is tiresome and finding a replacement that is easy to clean will be a high priority.

Freshly made bread is one of my favourites, although ‘they’ say you shouldn’t eat it warm 🙁 I like making bread but haven’t had time to do it recently, I suppose a breadmaker would solve this problem.

How often do you use it?

I generally make a small loaf every two days because homemade bread goes stale quickly. Supermarket bread usually contains additives so that it keeps longer.

When I first made my own bread by hand I came to no grief from eating warm bread. Within five minutes of turning out a loaf it can be cut with care. Yum. 🍞

I’m not keen on leaving electrical equipment on overnight for safety reasons, but the breadmaker is set so that baking stage does not start until I am getting up in the morning.

Great for dividing orange peel into sections that can easily be removed. Only trouble is they are easily forgotten and discarded with the peel.
Sorry to take up so much space! They are about twice life size on my screen.

That’s because the image is 1500 x 1097 pixels. The image size gives an indication of how large it will appear here. Amazon must have taken over from Betterware in selling products you did not know you needed.

It’s orange on purpose, so that you discard it every so often with the peel and have to buy another one.

The one we own is green. It has still been thrown away in the kitchen bin, hidden amongst the peel, but then recovered. Another useful gadget is a mesh splatter guard that sits on the frying pan – particularly good at containing flying fat globules when cooking steak,

Favourite and most used gadgets are kettle, microwave, table-top grill, slow cooker, mini food processor and blender.

Least favourite is the juicer that is too much hassle to put together and clean.

I am thinking of getting a new food processor for mixing bread but haven’t really looked into it yet.

I had forgotten about my trusty microwave which is at least 25 years old and used daily. Unlike most microwave ovens it does not have a turntable and the microwaves are distributed evenly by something that rotates in the roof of the chamber. Microwave ovens without a turntable are coming back and are now called ‘flatbed’ models.

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Is yours a Phillips? Mum had one without a turntable in the 1980’s. My microwave was 37 years old when it died just after Christmas. Switched off, on standby, (clock and timer) the magnetron did a quick short circuit. It didn’t trip the “fuse” box and the display was still visible, but the burnt electrical smell was enough for me to pull the plug and wish it a fond farewell. The replacement is an essential part of the kitchen, but though more powerful, it doesn’t seem to cook much quicker. Which magazine put me off some flatbed models because of uneven cooking. I found the information useful, but needed to supplement it before making a final choice. In this case, size mattered as I have some large bowls that I use to cook things in.

It is indeed a Philips microwave – model M511. I bought it because it was compact, had nine power levels and no turntable. My parents had a more recent Philips microwave but the magnetron failed after about six years and I found that parts for microwave ovens are not easy to get hold of unless you are in the trade. Sorry to hear about the demise of your microwave, Vynor, but at least it had a longer life than most modern ones are likely to have.

Duncan – Wave spreader does sound familiar.

In a US rental villa we had a microwave with a glass plate that moved from side to side in operation. I thought it was quite a good idea as the food was likely to be more evenly cooked.

I used to have a hand mincer and now have one that goes on the end of the Kenwood. I use my food processor more now as it minces everything and is less hassle to clean when doing a shepherd or a cottage. This conversation has reminded me that I haven’t made “potted meat” for a long time. This uses a bain-marie to cook equal quantities of beef steak and smoked bacon. Put through a mincer, when cooked, gives it the correct texture and a little nutmeg adds something extra. The finished product is pressed firmly into ramekins and coated with a little melted butter. When Mum made it, she put some bread through to clean the mincer. These were “my crumbs” and we queued up for our share. So, though gathering dust, I won’t be throwing away the bain-marie or the mincer. My juicer comes out at irregular intervals as it is a pain to clean. I have a giant blender, that blends EVERYTHING, and can be cleaned in less than a minute. This is regularly used and will even make hot soup if left running for a few minutes. It knocks the Nutribullet into the wheatgrass. My grandmother’s bread tins are still used and, with a bag of white and a bag of wholemeal I get six good sized loaves at a time. Taking the crust from one as it comes out of the oven, is my idea of heaven and bu**er the indigestion.
I have an unused ice cream maker and a portable grill that remains in the cupboard taking up space and I need to trade in my ancient slow cooker for one that actually cooks something worth eating. I forget when I last had a toasted sandwich – and the catch broke so I have to hold it down. It is hard to clean. The yogurt maker is disappointing too as results are variable. The other one, that came with packets of yogurt mix, does work well, but the packets are not all that appetising and they tend to separate after a few days. I cheat and buy the ones from the shop. There is also a coffee percolator given as a gift back in 1970. It was a posh model, but seldom used then and never now. I could rationalise the kitchen space, and clear out the unused things, but somehow, there are always more interesting things to do.

For years I have used a ‘Mouli Grater’ which is grate for producing cheese toppings. Like many gadgets, it’s difficult to clean and I wonder if there is a version that is all-stainless steel and will survive a dishwasher.

I have a grater similar to this that gets a lot of use:

Favourite gadgets don’t have to be electrical.

I have one of those and a mini-version for lemons etc. They are easier to clean, and will fit in a shallow drawer.

I had an old metal one many years ago, but the plastic/metal version is good at grating and I don’t find mine that difficult to clean with a brush. Wrong aisle in Tesco and half asleep, I now wash up with a toilet brush.

I use a washing-up brush when going round the bend in the toilet because the curvaceous handle is more suitable for the task than the useless straight-handled things they sell as toilet brushes. I hate toilet brushes with their unhygienic tubs and won’t have them in the house.

Where do you store this washing-up brush, John?

Few things seem to spawn more jokes than the toilet brush…

I just knew there was going to be a supplementary question, Sophie. We store it with other cleaning utensils in a cupboard in the utility room. It has a red handle so we know it is not to be used for any other purpose. It is thoroughly cleansed and sterilised after each use. I anticipate a further question but I shall not be answering it.

Last time this came up, we agreed on the need for a loo brush that went around the bend but manufacturers were not listening. ☹️

Totally agree.

It looks as if the accusations of manufacturers not listening was the reason why we now have loo brushes with microphones.

i wondered if Which?had a section on cleaning tips – backed up by science – but not anything at all shows on the Index directly. Several promising sounding Conversations but the best apparently is this one which mentions denture tablets for cleaning toilets.


However not useful in the end. It does suggest a handful of cleaning topics most of which seem to involve purchasing a machine but for this – that does not mention toilet cleaners at all!!

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I was rather alarmed when my new Panasonic microwaves window started steaming up in between the glass door so decided to check it out via the Panasonic website which states:

The door is designed to stop microwave energy escaping, however does not need to be airtight in order to do this. There are small holes around the door seals because the temperatures on either side of the door differ (i.e the air in the interior cavity is hotter than that on the outside of the microwave.) This causes air expansion in the door cavity, so there are air release holes in the seal of the door to accommodate this so the pressure does not build.

Apart from my two God given hands that thankfully still work, I have recently resurrected a Molineaux food processor from the back of a cupboard to make gluten free bread (which is on hold at the moment) so with that, plus my lovely old glass Cona Coffee Maker (Hubble Bubble) plus toaster, plus kettle, plus teapot, plus Combi Microwave, space is now at a premium in the kitchen. The juicer is no longer used as I prefer to eat fresh fruit for its fibre and drink filtered water from a jug which is kept in the fridge. The cheese grater is stainless steel and four sided in a block with a sturdy handle on the top which holds it very steady when used.

If one of the high tech guys would be so kind as to remind me how I can transfer a picture from my iPad to Convo, I would like to send a pic of my 40 year old coffee maker which still works.

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Thank you Duncan, my old microwave didn’t do this so I thought I had bought a faulty one. I will probably order a Maplin checker if you recommend that particular one.

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We used to have some useful plastic funnels but over time the surfaces degraded and now they are in my shed and used for decanting white spirit or other nasty liquids. I have been trying to find replacements with a long neck that goes well into the bottle but the only ones on sale nowadays seem to have very short necks and they do not sit down well and stay there when being used to transfer liquids from one vessel to another. I would appreciate any suggestions. I would prefer to by them individually rather than in a set. I suppose I should patronise an old-fashioned hardware shop noted for its fork handles – that’s where the fun’ll begin.

I suggest you lookout for Titanic brand, John. Four funnels that should go down a long way. 🙁

To be serious, it’s fairly easy to find plastic funnels in shops selling ironmongery, DIY shops and even large supermarkets. As long as you avoid powder funnels, which have a short neck, they should be fine. I have some ancient metal funnels that I use for materials that might damage plastics. Stainless steel funnels may be available from suppliers of catering equipment.

I can assure you I have tried all these sources, Wavechange, except the traditional ironmongers which will be my next port of call. Funnels seem to be a scarce utensil and tend to come in sets. I went to a catering equipment suppliers but they could only offer Kilner funnels which have a short neck and a bowl-type head. I just want something that used to be so common years ago! It’s becoming a titanic struggle!

Having examined the box of funnels that lives in the garage I have that the only new ones have short spouts and that is probably why they have remained unused. I did not buy them with a purpose in mind. The most useful small filler was given to me by a friend who had witnessed my attempts to fill a petrol-powered generator without using a funnel. It used to carry the name of a brand of paraffin or paraffin stove.

I suggest looking for stainless steel funnels on Amazon. I often do that before buying elsewhere. 🙂

At one time, funnels with a short spout were relatively uncommon and sold as powder funnels but now they do seem much more common. I now feel rather possessive about my old metal funnels.

Lots online.

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Google worked fine for me, Duncan. I don’t know why funnels with shorter spouts have become popular.

I love my breadmaker, my hand held blender, my smoothie maker and my new hand mixer which doubles up as a stand mixer. I use them fairly frequently, and I have no complaints about the results.

I have a food processor I use occasionally, but one of the pieces is broken (the slicer), and anyway it isn’t as all singing and dancing as I thought it was going to be. I bought a plastic thingie, a bit like what Alfa shows us above but with a guard to protect your fingers, but it isn’t very efficient.

I have a manual cheese grater I use all the time, and also a manual rotary herb mill (I had to look up what you call this), which is very useful too.

I’ve kept my grandmother’s electric coffee grinder (and her manual one too!) and it’s great for bread crumbs.

I’ve got a small veg spaghetti maker and it’s awkward to use, I’ve only used it a couple of times. I’d like to give this veg spiralising thing a better shot, but I hesitate to buy a more sophisticated model in case it ends up not much used either. I can’t find a Which? review, is there one somewhere?

My waffle/toastie maker comes out of the cupbard from time to time, but I can’t say I would really miss it if it disappeared.

Tattie peeler, now, there’s another very simple, very handy thing to have, unless you’ve got hens and pigs to feed, like some my family used to have, in which case you can feed them the thicker peels you cut with a normal sharp knife.

Orange rinder, same principle as the tattie peeler, great!

Tattie masher. Don’t need to say more.

Tomato/egg slicer / chip cutter / apple coarer, one handle, 3 grids, new for Christmas, not tried it yet…

There may be more I’ve forgotten.

Another oft-used gadget in our kitchen for undoing tight lids and caps on anything from milk to pickles. We often think of frail old people when battling with a jar lid or trying to get at the milk – although a gadget to peel off the sealing foil would also be handy.

I have the same gadget malcolm, and very useful it is. I also used to have a rubber disc that was good as it didn’t crush the lids but it perished and I haven’t seen one that gripped as well since.

P.S. Good picture. 🙂

Thanks alfa – no credit to me though, just as it copied 🙂

The problem with stiff jar lids was solved years ago: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1376459/Duerrs-finally-invents-easy-open-cap-jars.html It’s a pity that other manufacturers have not adopted the same design to help the elderly and disabled: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1376459/Duerrs-finally-invents-easy-open-cap-jars.html

Be interesting to know if anyone else adopted it (I think M&S did something similar) and if there are any reviews on its success.

I am not aware of any other companies using the same system, probably because it is patented and manufacturers would have to pay. 🙁

This is the company that developed the cap used by Manchester-based company Duerrs: https://www.crowncork.com/news/press-room/new-orbit-closure-crown-makes-jars-easier-open

Since its initial launch in 2011, the Orbit Closure has been adopted by popular and trusted brands across more than 10 European countries for a wide range of markets and applications. The closure is currently available in 63mm, 70mm and 82mm diameters.“.

Another contribution from manufacturing industry to help consumers 🙂

That’s why I mentioned it, Malcolm. Unfortunately, most of the food manufacturers don’t seem to be paying attention.

I had forgotten to mention electronic kitchen scales. At one time these were expensive and sold for laboratory use, but now inexpensive and sufficiently accurate versions are widely available for home use.

The main advantage of electronic scales is the tare feature, which allows them to be reset the reading to zero with a bowl, pan or other container on top. There is little need for measuring spoons and jugs when you have electronic scales.

Mine agrees with the one in the post office, so I use it for parcels as well as food.

That was one of the reasons I bought my first electronic scales. In the days before email was popular I sent many letters and did not want anyone to be charged because I had exceeded the (then) 60g weight limit. My uncle gave me a set of brass weights (like those we had in physics classes) when I was a young lad and I used them to calibrate my first electronic scales, but the newer ones were spot on.

My electronic kitchen scales register a weight when I just wave my hand above the base. 😟

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Mine does not do that. May the force be with you, Alfa?

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I’m a lucky one too. Some just seem unlucky but others don’t seem to understand how to look after equipment.

I get static electric shocks when touching metal objects all the time and switching on lights with metal knobs. Not sure whether it’s due to the synthetic fabric I am wearing or me, but it’s not at all pleasant.

Carpets, perhaps?

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The problem is synthetics and the solution to this unpleasant problem is to switch to fabrics that are at least part-natural. There are anti-static sprays for clothes and fabric conditioners but I don’t know what they contain. Cheap carpets are all-synthetic where as traditionally they were 80% or more wool.

Its probably the laminate floor insulation not being earthed and a combination of dry air and dust ………….or something similar. Apparently a wet mop is supposed to calm it down but I always thought water and electricity didn’t mix?

It would be easy enough to check, though I don’t think a wet mop would become a favourite kitchen gadget.

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I wonder if we should take this to The Lobby, which I assume has fine woollen carpets that should not cause a problem.

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Fabric conditioner is anti-static, though I’m not keen on the idea of having a bunch of chemicals in contact with the skin. Isopropyl alcohol is similar to ordinary alcohol but like methylated spirits does not carry duty because both would make you sick if you drank them.

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I do but have not witnessed it, Duncan. It’s very sad.

This seems a topic for elsewhere (Lobby?) not kitchen gadgets?

I’ve already suggested this.

Rachel Crookes says:
22 February 2018

I love my Nutribullet, doesn’t just make smoothies but chops nuts, makes breadcrumbs, blends up soups… Small, versatile, easy to clean!

Hello Alice

Just a quick note reference your research…..A conversation that took place yesterday at work about the difficultly hearing at home in open plan kitchens particularly in relation to noisy gadgets and hard kitchen surfaces etc. Definitely a problem for multi-generational families and open plan living.

Bean to cup coffee machine,

I would have one tomorrow if I thought it might be reliable. I’m not impressed by the build quality of those that I have seen.

I have a Rowenta filter coffee machine and the best feature is the gold filter that looks as good as new. It’s a pity about the plastic parts, which now look very tatty.

Sylvia says:
24 February 2018

I’ve just had a new kitchen fitted, AEG microwave /oven ,induction hob, and all purpose oven ,quite expensive, however I can’t even set the clocks, one needs a degree to work it all out! Plus the booklets are flimsy, basic and seem to have been translated from another language! One used to get a good glossy recipe and instruction book when buying these items, when I bought my first Panasonic microwave I was given a video on how it worked! This is the third fitted kitchen I’ve had installed over thirty years and eyebrows were raised when I said no dishwasher, no tumble dryer, no extractor hood, I’ve had them all and hardly ever used them. The extractor fan was loud and collected a lot of grease, the dishwasher took ages and again was noisy and used gallons of water, and the dryer beside shrinking items was very expensive to run!

If your extractor hood collects lots of grease then it might be a useful feature.

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I cannot understand why the major manufacturers skimp so badly on their instruction manuals for complex domestic appliances. Many of these products have a wide range of functions which one might only wish to use occasionally so reference to the manual is required. The books are often produced in feint monochrome print on soggy grey paper and are written in German translated into English in the Orient. Their production standards are certainly not suited to a kitchen environment. The low-grade utlitarian standard of the instruction book is not consistent with the quality values of the machine [however deceptive that might be] but the purchaser does not see the manual until the appliance has been delivered and can hardly return it because the booklet is not fit for purpose.

I don’t know about AEG, but most manufacturers have manuals available to download from their websites that give a lot more info than any provided with the product.

I got my very first dishwasher nearly a year ago and would not be without it now. I only got my first tumble dryer a few years ago and wish I had one a long time ago. Both appliances are started first thing in the morning and make the most of cheap rate electricity. So 2 appliances I will never be without again. I am also on my first extractor hood and although not particularly quiet, not particularly noisy either.

The availability of instruction manuals for downloading has certainly been a big benefit, although many are merely unmodified copies of the printed version with awkward pagination, sizing and layout – and the language is still incomprehensible sometimes.

It has been useful to be able to download instruction manuals for appliances of all types ‘inherited’ when buying a pre-owned home. Previous owners have not necessarily kept the books or they are in such a state that replacements are required. With more built-in or integrated appliances in use this is a growing requirement.

It is surprising just how many manuals are available to download. I recently found one for a Landmaster Cultivator some 50 years old – still haven’t got it running though.

I don’t like on-screen manuals though and tend to print off the important bits. Much quicker to flick through some papers than go back and forth to a screen, particularly if you are in the garage.

Deciphering some pictograms can be quite a task, but worse are those weighty tomes that accompany what should be relatively simple devices. I recently replaced our cordless phones – 44pp instructions. Our old non-smart tv – 72pp. An equally old dvd recorder 152pp. It tests our patience when we’ve upset a setting and try to find the remedy.

Food mixer with attachments for grating, liquidising, juicing etc takes up a lot of room on both the work surface and cupboard space and are rarely used. Very useful when needed though!

Vitamix blender that does not work very well for smaller quantities – fabulous for soup or large puree anything.