“Need” is a strong word. “I need a better phone charger.” “I need a beer.” There is a vast difference between what we need and what we want, and advertisers love what we want, but think we need. There are endless advertisements for new, innovative pieces of sci-fi kitchen gadgetry that have gone from fictional to functional. They can lure you in to spending money you shouldn’t for stuff you’ll never use. Know when to borrow someone else’s specificity junk for the ONE time you will actually need it. Or pull an Alton Brown and improvise!
Remember, advertisers don’t care whether or not you really have a need something; they just want you to buy it. They’re favorite strategy is to create a need when there is none. Most of the junk they’re selling is stuff you might think you need, you might actually need once or that just looks really, really cool. So here, for the safety and betterment of all, I offer you my list of kitchen tools you will never, ever need.
1. Egg yolk separator
Problem number one is that they take forever. This might be ok for a single egg, but if I’m baking I’m usually doing at least half a dozen. Problem number two is that they simply don’t work very well. Use a spoon, or best of all, your hands.
2. melon baller
When? When will you really need to make perfect little spheres of cantaloupe? Fancy yourself a full-time, at-home entertainer/mixologist? Go for it. Plus, one of these guys will do the job just fine and has a whole host of other uses.
3. egg slicer
It looks so maniacal. Unless you want perfectly sliced boiled eggs on a daily basis, this takes up precious drawer space. A paring knife will do the same thing just fine and also won’t rust the way these tend to.
4. strawberry huller
Cute, isn’t it? It’s also useless and ironically not very good at the one job after which it’s named. If you demand your strawberries come without cores, carve ’em out with a paring knife or use a star pastry tip like ol’ Alton Brown does.
5. tomato corer
Noticing a pattern with “-er” words? These things are better at puncturing innocently bystanding finger flesh than they are at cleanly removing a tomato core. They’re ok on those black potato spots, though. Again, use a paring knife.
6. pineapple slicer/corer
Must you? Must you have perfect pineapple rings? Let me guess, for the grill? For your upside-down cake? If you’re cooking them like that, just grab canned, slice pineapple anyway. It’ll have the same nutrient content by the time you’re done with it. You also won’t end up with a bunch of wasted pineapple flesh.
7. Corn peeler
I just… wow. No. Cooked corn is so delicious right off the cob, but if you’re removing it for any number of acceptable reasons, use a serrated knife. How often will you really need this thing? You’ll probably lose or break it.
8. Herb mincer
This thing looks like a perfectly good pizza roller after it came out of the teleporter from “The Fly”. This, unlike a good chef’s knife, won’t mince herbs, it will bruise them and make a huge mess. Go ahead. Try it out. I dare you.
9. avacado slicer
I’m upset. Cool idea, sure, but not all avocados are created equally and this won’t work right every time. Plus that paring knife OR a serrated knife I keep bringing up will do everything this thing can but probably better. And you can use those for other tasks. What else can you do with this? Kind of looks like a cockatiel with a mohawk and braces.
10. Shrimp cleaning tool
There’s not even a clever name for this one. First of all, that black line running down a shrimp’s back is the digestive tract, not a vein. I can understand how some want to remove it, but this thing looks tricky to operate. And to clean. Know what I’d use? You guessed it, my sweet little oh-so-useful paring knife.
11. automatic anything
Can openers, wine openers, etc. Having something with a lot of tiny, moving parts for such simple tasks seems like hunting rabbit with an elephant gun. This just one more thing that can run out of batteries, or you’ll drop in the sink.
12. wine aeration vortex thingies
You mean to tell me you’re so picky about having your aerated wine and that you want it so very right now, you need a device that does it as you pour into your glass??? My friend, you have a problem. Seriously, though, who doesn’t enjoy wine? Wine should be aerated, right? Well, that’s what decanters are for.
UPDATE: I took the Pepsi Challenge using one of these things and it really does make a difference, but you better drink like a fish to justify having one hangin’ out in your kitchen.
13. This f*cking thing
Marketed as the Multifunctional Fruit Peeler Paring Knife Sugar Cane Knife, my friend dubbed it, “The Sharknado of Cutlery.” It’s a seemingly honest attempt at a combination paring knife/peeler/bottle opener/fish scaler? I saw one at a Vietnamese market and thought, “Well, I’m not not buying that.” I almost never used it, it didn’t really work at all and then it broke. Remember, the longer it takes you to say something, the less you probably need it in your life.
14. Utility knife
Cooks love their knives, but I just never understood this one. It’s too big to perform the microsurgery of a paring knife. It’s too short and narrow to chop, mince and otherwise be a chef’s knife. Sometimes they’re serrated and sometimes they’re not. It’s name suggests no clear purpose. I always saw one in other cook’s knife bags, but never in their hands. I think it’s the knife you buy when you want the chef’s knife, but this little one is more affordable.
15. garlic press
I hate these things. I hate them so much. I first saw one left in the kitchen after I moved into a new house. I thought it was for cheese, and it worked great. When I found out it was for garlic, I was baffled. Why invent a machine for turning fresh garlic into useless mush? You can chop garlic, roast it, con fit it, use in sauces, etc. I just never understood the end game here. Know what works great on garlic? A Slap Chop. You’ll never hear me bash those.
I hope this saves some time and money for anyone furnishing a new kitchen or seeing a late-night infomercial and thinking, “Hmm, I could use that.” Find yourself a good chef’s knife, paring knife and a serrated knife and you’ll be well-equipped. Take a little time to practice and you’ll be in business. Unless you’re just lazy, then reach for the Slap Chop. I love my Slap Chop.