There’s no question that small kitchen appliances save us time and effort every day. Everyone has their own “essential” list, based on how often they use those appliances, and how important they are to one’s lifestyle.
Here are some small appliances that just might make your essential list.
- Awesome Coffee Makers
There are many different ways to make coffee — French press, pour-over, cold brew, and pods, to name just a few. But the automated drip coffee maker remains one of the most popular and convenient methods of brewing your morning cup.
Many of these are standardly equipped with features such as programming options and heat controls.
Common features include:
- Permanent filters.
- Multiple servings: 12- or 14-cup carafe with a 1- to 4-cup serving selection.
- Pause and pour.
- Heater plate with high, medium and low settings to keep coffee at the preferred temperature.
- Auto-shut off programmable for up to 4 hours.
And then there are others that are designed to make coffee a whole new experience with features such as a stainless-steel carafe to keep the coffee fresh long after it’s been brewed, an integrated scale to weigh the grounds, precision water temperature controls, and LED display. The front load basket (so you don’t have to pull the machine out from under the cupboards) is handy, as is the removable water reservoir.
A good automatic drip coffee maker is more expensive than the average, and has more features, but the design and the materials ensure that when water touches the grinds, it has that perfect temperature to make a great cup of coffee.
- Toasters – The “Forgotten” Small Appliance
Toasters are SO underrated. It’s one of those things that nobody ever thinks about – until they don’t have one. If you’re thinking of replacing your toaster, here are some features to look for.
- Easy retrieval. The toaster pushes the toast up high enough that you don’t burn your fingers pulling it out.
- Anti-jamming and auto shutoff. While jams will sometimes happen even in the best toasters, an automatic shutdown prevents burning.
- Slot sizes to accommodate a variety of bread types.
- Defrosting and reheating buttons.
- Cancel button.
- Crumb tray that’s easy to use and clean.
- Style. The toaster complements your kitchen in style and color.
- Lift and Look feature to check on toast mid cycle (on more expensive toasters).
- Blenders – What to Get
If you prep a lot of tough nuts for nut butters, or vegetables for thick soups and chunky salsas, look for a high-end blender with a powerful motor, and a variety of dicing and chopping settings. They’re self-cleaning and built to last a long time.
These specialty blenders are all-in-one designs, and can be used for the following:
- Crushing ice
- Hot soups
- Baby food
- Ice cream
- Nut butter
- Grinding seeds and grains
- Mixing batters
- Making doughs
If you mainly use a blender for smoothies, soup, or cocktails, choose a full-sized blender that offers pureeing and powerful ice crushing. These are more moderately priced and not as powerful, but they get the job done, especially if you’re using them for smoothies.
Personal blenders (mini blenders) are small, making 1-2 servings at a time. They’re ideal for people who don’t have much counter or storage space. Usually, they come with different pitcher sizes and blades. They’re not intended for hardcore blending and are popular for making smoothies and shakes.
Immersion, or hand blenders, have a long, cylindrical design, and can be submerged directly into any food or drink you’re preparing — even hot food. The more advanced ones come with a range of attachments for various recipes. Many people use them as a complement to your countertop blender rather than a replacement.
- Countertop Microwave Ovens – A Fantastic Invention
Many people can’t live without their nukes. They use them daily for reheating coffee and leftovers, defrosting, cooking frozen dinners, making popcorn, and for cooking such food as vegetables and bacon. Small microwaves start around 0.5 cubic feet and are inexpensive. Up from that are the midrange models measuring between 0.9 and 1.6 cubic feet. Models over that size are too large for most countertop spaces.
The wattage for small microwaves can start at 600 watts, with the midsize models ranging from 900 to 1000 watts. The highest wattage doesn’t necessarily mean the microwave will cook the most evenly, or the fastest. These factors depend on how efficiently the microwave is programmed, and how the microwaves are delivered.
Basic features to look for in a microwave:
- Intuitive controls
- Time-cook that allows you to manually set the cooking time.
- Express cooking for instant cooking when pressing one of the numbered buttons (e.g. 1 through 6 minutes).
- An add 30 seconds button that tacks on 30 seconds to the cooking time.
- Preprogrammed cooking functions that use either sensors or preset power levels and times to cook various foods, such as popcorn, beverages, pizza, vegetables, potatoes, and frozen meals.
- A defrost function that can be programmed by time or weight.
Although not common, some models have a mute button that silences the beeping when the microwave has finished cooking.
Electric Kettles – How Hot is Too Hot?
An electric kettle provides a fast and easy way to heat water without using the stove. Many kettles will allow you to set a precise temperature, which is key to making the best-flavored tea or coffee. Different varieties of tea should be brewed at specific temperatures. Generally, the more delicate tea leaves require cooler water.
For pour-over or French press coffee, the water temperature should also be below boiling — it’s recommended around 200°F. There are even electric gooseneck kettles with thin, angled spouts that provide a steady, precise flow for pour-overs.
There are other features in the more expensive kettles, such as 30-minute keep warm options, selected hold settings if you remove the kettle from its base, audible “ready” tones, timers, real-time temperature indicators, and switches that toggle from Fahrenheit to Celsius.
Of course, you may just want a basic, no-frills electric kettle for boiling water for cooking, sterilizing jars and lids, softening lasagna noodles, reconstituting concentrated sauce and soup stocks, and for making coffee and tea without a precise water temperature. There are plenty of good brands of basic electric kettles available.
Basic features to look for in an electric kettle:
- Simple controls. Multiple temperature settings should be clearly marked and easily adjustable. Ideal temperatures for various beverages should be printed on the kettle.
- Accuracy. Temperature settings should be accurate.
- Boils quickly in 5 minutes or less.
- Pours cleanly without splashing or dribbling.
- Minimal Plastic. It’s recommended to use only stainless steel, ceramic, or glass electric kettles. Even these can contain some minor plastic, such as parts of the lid, a filter, or the water-level window. These plastics should be heat-resistant.
- Safety Features. Lids and handles should stay cool to the touch, and there should be an automatic shutoff feature.
- Easy to clean. There should be a wide opening for easy access into the kettle for cleaning and descaling. The spout should also have a scale filter to keep bits of lime deposits out of your cup.
You depend on your appliances. For expert maintenance and repair, call C&W Appliance Service at (855) 358-1496 or (214) 358-1496.