I’m a big fan of kitchen gadgets, having bought just about everything that has come out in the past 40 years: food processors, bread machines, rice cookers, even special margarita blenders!
You know what I have discovered lately? Most of these items were used a few times, and then covered and put away in a cupboard.
Some of my favorite kitchen items are simple, manual items that have been used for at least 100 years. When we consider that our electrical grid could be compromised at any time, it might be a good idea to have a few of these hand-operated items on standby.
Let’s examine five you may want to stash away.
1. Coffee percolators
My father never got the hang of those electric coffee pots or coffee makers. He believed that they were a waste of money and that coffee tasted “funny” when made in the expensive coffee maker one of my brothers bought him. Until he was placed in a nursing home, he used the same old-fashioned coffee percolator that he and my mother had received as a wedding present. Of course, you can use a French press, as well, but there’s a certain appeal to listening to that old percolator on the stove.
2. Egg beaters
You can still buy these today, but unfortunately, many of them now have plastic gears. Shop around, however, and you can find old-fashioned metal gears. You might pay more, but it will be worth it. While hand-driven egg beaters won’t handle heavy work or anything that needs super-fast mixing speeds (such as whipped cream), they will do the job for just about anything else, including cake mixes and, of course, eggs!
3. Stove top toaster
You can find these in the camping section of most general department stores. These cost less than $5 and they really do a terrific job. Depending on the size, you can toast two to four slices of bread or bagels in the same amount of time as your electric toaster.
4. Pastry cutter
If you like to bake, you might be familiar with this one. Most of us have become accustomed to our food processors, but once you try one of these to cut butter or shortening for baking, you will wonder why you waste so much time cleaning your food processor when you can simply use a pastry cutter. Best part is that these use no electricity!
5. Potato masher
Although the name implies that this only works for potatoes, let me tell you from experience: You can use this handy little tool for more recipes than you can shake a stick at! Mashed potatoes, yes, but beans (think refried beans!) and cauliflower, too. Anyone who likes to make jam will find one of these invaluable if you have no electricity to run your food processor. I’ve used both plastic ones and metal ones. While the plastic ones are lightweight and I’ve never had a problem, I have an old-fashioned metal one with the old wooden handle that I found at a second-hand store, just in case!
Of course, there are many other hand tools that didn’t make the list, including can openers, pressure canners, apple peelers, and manual meat grinders, to name a few.
What are your favorite hand-operated kitchen tools?