Welcome to Counterpoint, a series in which we challenge commonly held ideas about well-known products. This time: single-purpose cooking tools.
The world of kitchen gadgets is vast and unwieldy. Most of those gadgets are what people call "unitaskers," or hyper-specific tools that perform a single task. If you need an example, check out an avocado slicer, which as its name suggests only slices avocados. Even beloved celebrity chef Alton Brown is on record knocking unitaskers for being useless, overcomplicated and, in a lot of cases, just really stupid. But not all unitaskers are created equal, and some of them are just pretty damn ingenious.
In professional kitchens, chefs only really need a handful of tools to perform a plethora of kitchen tasks. Except most people are not professional chefs, and some unitaskers are actually clever ways to make cooking and food prep easier. Take the humble garlic press for example. While crushing and mincing a clove or two of garlic is not complicated, imagine having to do that for a whole head of garlic. The garlic press (unitaskers don't have very inventive names) makes light work out of a tedious process. Where kitchens hire food preparation workers to do work like that, home cooks have things like the unitasker.
As Brown demonstrates in his takedown of unitaskers, some do deserve some light-hearted flak. I'm pretty sure I don't need Wolverine's claws, er, pulled pork shredders when forks exists (albeit cosplaying as everyone's favorite X-Men is worth the price of admission). Is one person eating that many taco salads that they need a taco bowl mold taking up valuable cabinet space? While we're poking fun at these somewhat arcane contraptions, they do make certain kitchen tasks more accessible. Those with disabilities could find great use in products like an apple slicer or a butter dispenser, just two tools that make everyday tasks less challenging.
While those who hate clutter could make a case for having as few cooking tools as possible, those who cook often enough will know that they'll take as many shortcuts as they can to get food on the table as quickly as possible. Here are five unitaskers that deserve a spot in your kitchen.
Zyliss Garlic Press
Although the recipe calls for two cloves of garlic, you know you're going to end up using the whole head. And you can mince it all easily with a garlic press.
Oxo Strawberry Huller
Whether you're prepping strawberries to make a shortcake or you just need a snack, this huller makes it fast and easy to get the hull out of your strawberries without wasting precious fruit.
Tovolo Seal N'Store
So often produce goes to waste because you don't need the whole thing for whatever you're making. Ditch the plastic wrap for these mixed-material produce savers that save your fruits and vegetables, and your wallet.
Cuisinart Stainless Steel Chopper
All those dumb hacks for preventing watery eyes while chopping onions are moot when you have a hand chopper like this.
Chef'n FreshForce Citrus Juicer
If you're squeezing citrus by hand, you're missing out on 60 percent of the juice. That's a made-up number, with owning a juicer makes sure you get every last drop of citrus juice with just a bit of forearm strength.