Take a quick look around your kitchen. Chances are you have more than a few items collecting dust. The reality is that there are some truly indispensable kitchen gadgets (we're looking at you, coffee machine, chef's knife and slow cooker) and others that seem like a good idea when you buy them, but end up being more work to use or clean than, say, reaching for a knife. Some even increase the risk of cross-contamination — no thank you! Here are eight gadgets you can confidently leave behind.
1. Garlic Press
Stick a clove of garlic in the chamber of a garlic press, press down really (we mean really) hard — and voila! — minced garlic. If only it were that easy. "I'm always left with extra unpressed garlic in there that I have to dig out and chop up anyway," says Sophia DeSantis, food blogger behind the popular website Veggies Don't Bite. Her go-to method? Cut each garlic clove as small as you can, and then run your knife through all of the pieces to chop them even more finely.
Read more: 10 Incredible Garlic Hacks
2. Pizza Stone
The idea behind a pizza stone is that it maintains heat, which helps give your pizza and other doughy creations crispier crusts. The reality? A baking sheet gets the job done just as well. Food blogger Sophia DeSantis even likes to take a no-equipment approach and put the pizza directly on the oven rack or grill for maximum crispiness and minimum cleanup. And if you're wondering what to put your pizza on after it comes out of the oven, go with a cutting board or stick with the baking sheet.
3. Salt Cellar
You've likely seen these small, wooden salt-filled bowls on cooking shows. While reaching in for a pinch can make you feel like you really know what you're doing in the kitchen, bacteria from your hands can transfer to the cellar and lead to cross-contamination. Yuck! According to Cook's Illustrated, even though the bacteria dies within minutes of touching salt, it can still hang out on the container itself. The solution? Use a simple saltshaker (making sure to wash your hands if you've touched raw meat or fish), or grind some salt into a bowl to use while cooking, and then stick the bowl in the dishwasher when you're done.
4. Kale Stripper
If you've never heard of or seen a kale stripper before, here's the deal: With this device, you pull the stalk through a hole and it (supposedly) removes the leaf from the stem. It's a good idea in theory, but since you're going to be doing all that pulling anyway, your hands are the best tool for the job. "For kale and other tough greens, I simply use my fingers and run them down the stalk to separate the leaf from the stem — nice and easy," food blogger Sophia DeSantis says.
5. Apple Slicer
Unless you've been going to CrossFit every day, apple slicers seem to require superhuman strength to fully slice through an entire apple. Plus, they add yet another gadget to toss in the dishwasher, and you have to get in between all the blades without slicing your fingers if you're washing it by hand. "By the time I get all the way through the apple, get the apple and core that's stuck out of it and wash it, I could've cut three apples with a knife," food blogger Sophia DeSantis says. Save yourself the aggravation (and save your strength and energy for the gym) and use a chef's knife to cut your apples into slices.
6. Burger Press
If you mastered Play-Doh as a kid, forming a burger patty with your hands shouldn't be a challenging task. So skip the fancy burger press to save yourself time and frustration. "With a burger press, you still have to remove the burger with your hands, so in the end you lose the shape getting the darn burgers out," food blogger Sophia DeSantis says. Plus, every time you introduce another tool that touches raw meat, you up the risk of spreading bacteria in your kitchen. Form the meat into patties with your hands, plop them onto a plate, grill or pan, and promptly scrub your paws with hot, soapy water.
Read more: The 10 Best Homemade Veggie Burger Recipes
7. Grape or Cherry Tomato Slicer
No one loves the monotonous task of slicing through lots of grapes or cherry tomatoes one by one, but even if you shell out for a dedicated grape or cherry tomato slicer, you still have to cut them individually. Instead, try this hack from The Kitchn: Place a small plate or food storage container lid on a countertop. Spread the tomatoes or grapes in a single layer on top of the plate or lid, and then cover with an equal-size plate or lid. Using a serrated knife, gently saw back and forth as you slice through them all at once. Ta-da!
8. Egg Tray
Sure, that egg tray would look so cute in your fridge! But according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it's safe to store eggs in the cartons they come in. That's because egg cartons are specifically designed to keep eggs covered. So if bacteria are present on the shells, they can't transfer to other items in your refrigerator, and bacteria in your refrigerator can't hitch a ride on your eggs. On the other hand, egg trays are open, leading to a bacteria free-for-all. Another benefit to keeping your eggs in the carton? You'll be able to clearly see the "use by" date (the FDA says to use within three weeks of purchase). Always stick the carton directly in your refrigerator and not on the door, where the temperature is often higher.
What Do YOU Think?
What are your go-to kitchen gadgets? Do you have something you can't cook without? Tell us! Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below.