by April Lisante
Foodies, get ready to salivate over what may just be some of the coolest new spring and summer food gadgets to hit the market in a long time. The items we’ve curated are testaments to just how sophisticated home chefs have become and how seriously they take their cooking, their entertaining and their fun in the kitchen.
This year’s crop of new products is less utilitarian and more, let’s just say quirky, from ice cream balls to singing timers. Here is a look at some of our foodie favorites, items that will make your spring and summer cooking so much more interesting.
• The YayLabs Ice Cream Ball:
OK, so who doesn’t love ice cream, but this make-your-own contraption takes the process to a whole new level. Targeted toward outdoorsy types who want to get the kids involved, the ball looks like those dodgeballs we used to get pelted with in gym class. But the ball opens on one side to hold cream, sugar and vanilla, and then on the other side to add ice and rock salt. Throw it around outside for about 25 minutes and you have yourself some fresh ice cream. $49.99, REI, L.L.Bean, Amazon.
• The Fissler Electric Multi Cooker:
The all-in-one pressure cooker, slow cooker and sous vide is flying off the shelves at Chestnut Hill’s Kitchen Kapers because it does just about everything in a fraction of the time. Full dinners in 20 minutes, a slow cooker for that pulled pork everyone loves. Heck, it even makes yogurt, according to manager Melissa Fendelman. “This is just huge right now,” she said. “You can do all sorts of things in 20 minutes.” $149.95, Kitchen Kapers.
• AeroGarden indoor herb growing kit:
This electric garden is perfect for the cooks who love fresh herbs all summer but don’t have the green thumb to grow them in the backyard. The 20-watt LED lights grow up to six different herbs that each reach about a foot tall. The herbs grow in water, so there’s no need to use soil. $149.95, Amazon.com. Once you grow the herbs, try the Herb Stripper or the Kale Stripper to easily trim the stems from the greens before you cook. $7.99, Kitchen Kapers.
• Insignia 26-lb Portable Ice Maker:
If you like being the life of the party, show up with this neat machine, and you can be the bartender all night. It makes two sizes of ice in six to 12 minutes and can sit on a countertop. $129.99, Best Buy
• Smart Touch Singing Pasta Timer:
If you’re the one recruited each year to make the family reunion pasta salad, this cool gadget is an absolute riot. Drop the rotund little chef figurine into the pasta water, leave him in while the pasta is cooking, and he starts singing when the pasta is al dente. Who knew? When I was a kid, we called the crazy Italian guy who sang in the kitchen grandpa. $19.99 Bed Bath and Beyond.
• The Ben and Jerry’s Pint Lock:
OK, where was this when I lived with five girls in one house in college? For $9.99, you can rest assured no one can pilfer your precious Cherry Garcia. Touted as a “state of the art security system,” it features an actual combination lock at the top of the container. $9.99, store.benjerry.com
• The OXO Thermocouple Thermometer:
If you want to be the grill master, the meat has to be cooked perfectly. This thermometer is a hot item at Kitchen Kapers “because it is incredibly accurate,” according to Fendelman. $109.95.
• Jokari Bottle Top Baster:
You’ll never accidentally dump a whole bottle of barbecue sauce onto the grill again with this tricky little gadget. Attach a brush to the top of the bottle and start basting. It has “flow control” for an even baste, and it comes in three-packs. $6, Amazon.
• Prepara Taco Holders:
Kitchen Kapers isn’t really sure why, but these melamine taco holders are huge right now. Colorfully decorated with Spanish art, they replace your plates on Taco Tuesdays by holding two tacos and all their fixings upright. $6.99 each.
April Lisante, former food editor at the Philadelphia Daily News, is a resident of Flourtown. She can be reached at email@example.com