There are some inventions that have made life in the kitchen so much easier for home cooks. We take for granted fridges and freezers, ovens and stoves but often it isn’t that latest electronic gadget that gives us the greatest edge in home cooking, but far more conventional inventions and common place devices.
1. Greaseproof or waxed paper. We may not think of this as a modern invention (in fact it goes back to Medieval times) but it is certainly a great versatile kitchen tool. Its non-stick properties make it excellent for all baking – without the need for oiling a tin or pan with fats that we probably don’t need; while it can be used for storing cookies and other food items to keep them fresh (and prevent water getting in or out). You can also use it in microwave cooking to prevent splashes since the paper will not combust (under normal usage) and it wont melt like clingwraps.
2. The potato peeler. Life has been made easier by the simple potatoe peeler. While we could use a sharp knife anyone knows that doing so almost always results in a mishap at some point. While we also want to eat vegetable skins where possible there are many occasions when skimming off skins from non-organic vegetables is a useful thing to do.
3. Electric blender and whisk. While in theory we can do all mixing with hand implements the electric blender has certainly made it easier and quicker to produce mashed and blended foods of uniform consistency. While we might think of it as an necessary luxury to mix those light easy flours and sugars for cake mixtures, it comes into its own when we are trying to make a fruit smoothie with milk and youghart and whole strawberries (that just wouldn’t mash otherwise) or when we want to mash cooked potatoe into something smooth enough for a baby.
4. The microwave. While microwave cooking has its pros and cons – with much discussion about its safety and whether it really does keep more vitamins etc. in foods than boiling, it is certainly a useful gadget for fast heating and de-frosting of foods, melting butters and chocolates, and of course some cooks manage to use it for baking and roasting.
5. The kettle. The humble kettle is perhaps the most common and frequently used device for boiling small quantities of water quickly. We may think of it as more a kitchen fundamental than a gadget, but before kettles were invented, life was far harder boiling water in saucepans and the like.
While we might be able to serve quite a decent meal without the electric knife, the automatic chopper, the pie warmer and the self-cleaning sink, chances are that we used the kettle, the microwave, the blender, the potato peeler and greaseproof paper almost daily.