Kitchen Appliances You Probably Don't Need
Infomercials will make you wonder how people ever survived without the latest food preparation gadget. Do you really need them?
Though I risk incurring the wrath of Jack LaLanne by writing this, juicers are one of the most over rated kitchen appliances for people who make juice very infrequently. What most people call the "juice" that comes from a cheap juicer is not actually juice, but more like fruit puree mixed with water. You can make the same beverage using a blender or food processor, which most people already have.
High-end juicers do catch the pulp and output liquid that is more like real juice, and a good model can withstand near daily use for about three years. This is a good investment for someone committed to juice diet; casual users are better off just eating more fruit.
If what you crave is homemade grapefruit or orange juice, you should consider getting a citrus press, which is cheaper and more compact than a power juicer.
A food dehydrator is another appliance that looks fun and exciting when you see it on TV, but once you have it at home for a few days, it's just another gizmo taking up space--unless you are dehydrating diva, in which case, it's your fantasy come true.
Who benefits from owning a food dehydrator? People who buy fruits, vegetables, and red meats in bulk will not regret investing in a dehydrator; it offers a cheap and heathy way to preserve perishable goods without harmful preservatives. But note that if you dehydrate in bulk and fill the unit to its maximum capacity, it may often take more than a day for the food to completely dry out.
What about people who casually dry food? Consider the old-fashioned methods of drying food that people used before dehydrators become available. Baking fruits and vegetables in the oven on a low temperature will remove the moisture, especially if you have convection over, which circulates hot air around the food. Cane sugar and salt are natural desiccants and preservatives that draw out water and prevent bacteria from multiplying in dried foods.
A bread machine takes all the fun out of making homemade bread since it does all the work, from mixing and kneading to baking. Some caveats are small loaves (compared to store-bought bread) and that you can only make square loaves with a uniform crust. That means no challah braids or poppy seed sprinkles. If you only make bread on special occasions, you'll enjoy it more if you do it by hand rather than buy a machine that will spend most of the year collecting dust.
Who can benefit from a bread machine? For someone who makes large batches of homemade bread, for gifts or bake sales, a bread machine is a life saver. The loaves come out quick and uniform.
Electric Can Opener
Most owners of electric can openers received their appliance as a gift; few people wake up in the morning and decide that their lives would be improved if they could just open their cans one second faster. Considering that more and more canned food manufacturers provide pull tabs, someday even mechanical can openers may become obsolete.
Who needs an electric can opener? Seniors and those with arthritis and joint pain who need a reprieve from opening cans.
Fun uses for electric can openers: One of the joys of pet ownership is training your furry friend to come and eat when he hears the whirr of the electric motor.