Cooking is wonderful.
It is life-affirming, sustaining, and profoundly spiritual. Nearly every religious tradition includes extensive treatment of food and its place in society. Judaism and Islam stress the purity of foods with the Kosher and Halal traditions. Wicca and other neo-Pagan traditions include eating as part of sacred ritual. When people travel to other countries than their own, they most often speak of the food they’ve eaten and the meals shared with others.
It’s unfortunate than that cooking is also messy, time-consuming, and exhausting. Working in a hot kitchen is often described as “Slaving away over a hot stove.” The cleanup of dishes and surfaces is frequently cited as the chore most people “put off” or get tired of doing.
Fortunately, we live in a technological golden age. More devices and appliances are available to us than have been present at any other time in human history. These machines can save time and energy in the kitchen, allowing us to enjoy the act of cooking without consuming a whole day in preparation and cleanup.
With that in mind, here are 11 devices we thought were some of the most relevant to making the cooking process easier and more enjoyable.
1 – Instant Pot
Pressure cookers have an extensive tradition in many countries, but have not been particularly popular in America. The Instant pot is a daring attempt to change that dynamic. To call it a pressure cooker is actually to state only the least fact of this wonderful machine. The Instant Pot Duo 80 is 7 in 1 device that can steam, cook, sautee, warm, and more. It can even be used as a yogurt making machine, allowing you to save by making homemade yogurt. The key components are machine washable, and most of the recipes available can be prepared in under half an hour. Quick to clean and quick to cook, it can replace up to seven other devices, so it definitely takes pride of place.
2 – Dehydrator
Dried foods such as fruits or potato chips are a great alternative to store-bought snacks when prepared properly. You can save money in the long run by drying your own food instead of going with store-bought, and you skip out on heavy preservatives and salts. Newer models of dehydrator are very straightforward to use, making this a lovely addition to your home.
3 – Powered Mixer
Using handheld mixers, whether powered or hand-cranked, is tedious at the best of times, and often quite messy. If you spend a lot of time baking, prepare to deal with numb hands and batter splatter in many cases. Alternatively, you can get a powered stand mixer like the Kitchen Mate, which will handle the mixing for you without the need to handle it on your own.
4 – Vacuum Sealer
Vacuum preservation keeps food fresh for longer, whether in the fridge or the freezer. A number of devices like Food Saver can make the process easy and efficient, allowing you to buy choice cuts of meats or vegetables in bulk, and preserve them for later use without worry.
5 – Food Processor
Shredding, grating, chopping, and mixing are messy and tedious. Some folks enjoy the process or hand-feel of preparing food, but others do not. Some people just don’t have the time to deal with it all either, but still want the benefit of particular food preparations. A modern food processor can handle all of these tasks quickly and easily, saving you the time and effort while still providing the results.
6 – Electric Kettle
These devices are very common in Europe, but haven’t penetrated the American market in quite the same way. This is a shame, because it is without a doubt one of the most useful devices you will come across. Do you want hot tea? Use the kettle. Do you want boiling water for one-cup noodles? Use the kettle. Do you want to heat up some water for any reason at all? Use the kettle. It removes the need for an additional pot to boil water in, and tends to bring water to a boil faster than stovetop boiling.
7 – Electric Griddle
Essentially an electric-element cooking surface, a griddle is a must-have for the modern kitchen. You can fry up or lightly sautee just about anything with one of these devices, and some models come with integrated attachments such as panini grilling surfaces.
8 – George Foreman Grill
For folks concerned with fat intake, the Foreman Grill is a very useful appliance to have in your kitchen. The sloped surface and electric-element frying system work just like a griddle, and drain the fat into the collection tray. It works with steaks, burgers, bacon, sausage, and many other meats, so why not grab it? In a pinch, it can even grill a panini or grilled cheese sandwich, with a little adjustment for the ingredients.
9 – Pod Brewing Coffee/Tea Appliances
Keurig is the king of this particular field, but generic models of pod brewers have become available too. For folks who enjoy a nice “cuppa” but don’t want to deal with grounds and filters, it’s an excellent investment. Hot, tasty coffee and other warm drinks in a variety of recipes is a pod and a button push away.
10 – Convection Oven
Most ovens are radiation only ovens – the heating element, whether gas flame or electric, provides heat that builds up in the cooking chamber. A convection oven uses forced air to blow the heat around, making the heating of food more even and effective. It can speed up cooking and results in a more uniform cooking process, saving energy and time. They can be bought in small “toaster oven” sizes, comparable to the average microwave, adding a much-needed functionality to the modern kitchen.
11 – Immersion Blender
A very useful handheld blender that allows you to quickly puree or whip up food in a container. It has the drawbacks of other hand-mixers, but it is useful if needing to blend in a confined space, and for when you don’t want to break out the full sized mixing machine or pitcher blender.