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Ditch Your Electric Can Opener!

6 kitchen gadgets you don’t need!

Like avocado green and harvest gold, kitchen trends come and go (thank heavens!) As it is for decorator colors, so it goes for the things you think are going to make your life easier in the kitchen. If you’ve already purchased these products, don’t feel bad. Some of them you can chalk up to a phase you were going through at the time. Or you got them as a wedding gift. Or you were hypnotized by the salesman and his amazing demonstration at the county fair. (Guilty!)

Whatever the case, you can joyfully get rid of them right now, no questions asked. You’ll feel lighter, and you’ll have freed up some space for the things that really matter.

1. Electric Can Opener

hand held can opener
Hand-held can openers work better than electric ones — easier to clean, too!

I think at one time, it was cool to have one of these, but not so anymore. I remember the day I got rid of mine. A friend had commented that a friend of hers had called an electric can opener the most useless item in the kitchen. It takes up precious counter space, it’s hard to keep clean, and it doesn’t work any better than a good hand-held opener. I gave it about two second’s thought and pitched it. That was years ago, and I’ve never looked back. Hand-held openers do the job much better, you can throw them in the dishwasher, and they’re pretty cheap to replace when they wear out in like, 10 years.

2. Wok

You can saute vegetables just as well in an ordinary frying pan.

Back off, foodies! I know you can’t imagine life without this gigantic, round pan that won’t sit on the top of your stove without that special ring underneath it. Been there, done that. I had an electric one for awhile, too. It was just as awkward and took up even more storage space. I’ll admit it was a fun phase in my cooking career; but what I learned is that there is very little I can do in a wok that I can’t do in a regular frying pan. If you have all the cabinet space in the world, and you want to try your hand at some authentic Asian cuisine, you can go ahead and keep your wok. Otherwise, it’s no great loss to give away and let someone else learn their lesson.

3. Juice Machine

You don’t need a big, heavy piece of machinery to get a nice glass of OJ — use this instead.

Well, I’ve had two, both at the request of my husband, who apparently goes through culinary phases of his own. The last one we bought lives on shelf in the basement and we never use it anymore. It’s really hard to clean Every. Single. Time. And immediately after we use it, lest the remains get all dry and sticky. We did have some fun with it for awhile. Created some pretty interesting concoctions, though not all of them were actually potable. I always though it was a shame we had to put up with so much waste just to get out the juice. Our machine actually came with a few recipes for things like pancakes made of leftover carrot and apple fiber. Just no.

4. Garlic Press

Garlic press. Seriously, you don’t need it.

I’ve been in quite of few professional kitchens, and I know for a fact that a lot of chefs do not use a garlic press ever. My grandfather, who was in the restaurant business for most of his life, is the one who turned me on to the smash-peel-chop method of dealing with garlic. If you’re thinking the press will keep your hands from smelling like an Italian kitchen, think again. You still have to clean it, and that’s no picnic. Save yourself some time and trouble, and just sharpen up your knife skills.

5. Fry Daddy Deep Fryers

If you must fry, use an electric skillet.

In this day and age, does anyone really do that much deep frying? The Fry Daddy only holds 4 cups of oil, so that’s what, 2 or 3 drumsticks at a time? Maybe if you have a very small family. Of course, there’s the GranPappy now, which holds 6 cups of oil and comes with the same snap on lid, so you can use the same oil over and over again. But see, that’s the part I have trouble getting past. Unless you’re planning to use it a LOT, that oil is going to sit there, and it will get rancid after awhile. I don’t do a lot of frying to begin with, but when I do – we like beer-battered fish and onion rings once in awhile – I just use my electric skillet and dump whatever oil is left when I’m done. Do yourself a favor and get rid of this grease pit. Your waistline and your complexion will thank you.

6. Mandoline Kitchen Slicer

The only defense I can offer for why I bought this deadly gadget is that I was hypnotized. That guy at the Home Show demonstrating the magic of the mandoline could’ve probably sold ice at the north pole, too. I was completely taken in by his pitch, and I walked out of there with visions of homemade potato chips dancing in my head. Within two days of practicing, I succeeded in slicing off the tip of my thumb. I still wince if Alton Brown mentions that one of the Iron Chefs is using a mandoline in Kitchen Stadium.

Here’s the every day alternative to the mandoline.

In case you’re not familiar, a mandoline is really not much more than a flat piece of metal or plastic with a razor sharp blade in the middle. You use it for slicing things paper thin. What am I, a deli? I think not. I have 4-sided grater that works just fine, and will shred my fingers just as easily if I’m not careful, too. I just can’t recommend keeping a mandoline laying around your kitchen unless you’re a real professional. I buy my potato chips in a bag at a store, and so can you.

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So that’s my short list. I know some of you will disagree with some of the items here, and that’s fine. Leave a comment if come up with anything else you can live without in your every day kitchen!

8 thoughts on “Ditch Your Electric Can Opener!

  1. Ha ha thanks for the awesome post . I had a few good nostalgic laughs and thoughts. I am almost 40 years old and I grew up seeing all of these items in my moms kitchen.

    It is pretty interesting how you recommend kind of going back in time with replacing the electric can opener. But it makes sense. You will save room and electricity . Ha ha ha!

    1. Yes, my mom had all of these, too, except for the Fry Daddy, and so did I. The can opener just goes to show that not everything newer is better. I’m still waiting for the day when ALL cans have a pop-off top. Guess it’s too expensive to put that on everything now, but if they did that, you could kiss your hand-held opener good-bye too. Thanks for reading. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  2. There are just way too many kitchen appliances nowadays that we don’t have enough room to store them all.

    Some of the ones you mentioned are totally unnecessary and you can do a lot better without them. For example the garlic press is pointless as you can chop the cloves up pretty quickly with a good knife.

    Good article and very informative.

    1. So true, Craig! I’ve used every one of these, and I’m much happier living without them. Thanks so much for reading and for leaving your comment. Glad you liked it!

  3. Great advice.. The fry daddy was given to me as a gift, I never used it. I can’t remember the last time I opened a can. This is great advice!

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