These days, there’s a kitchen gadget for everything. But do you really need that cherry pitter? After all, you can use a chopstick and place the cherry on the lip of a soft drink bottle. Simply push down on the center of the cherry and the pit will pop out into the bottle. Voila! You just saved drawer space from an unneeded gizmo and saved your hard-earned cash. That got us to thinking: Are there other ways to use tools you may currently have lying around in your kitchen? There sure are: Here are 12 kitchen gadget hacks you can use to make life easier.
1. Make whipped cream with a French press
If your French press is collecting dust because you make quick trips to the coffee shop for your java jolt, you can use it to quickly make whipped cream for treats like this chunky apple cake. Simply add whipping cream to the halfway mark of your carafe and vigorously pump up and down until the cream thickens. It’ll save you from hauling out your stand mixer, and you can toss the press into the dishwasher for easy cleanup.
2. Ice cream scoop those muffins
Put your ice cream scoop to use when making muffins. Instead of directing dollops of dough into your muffin pan with a spoon, simply scoop up the mix with an ice cream scoop for a measured—and cleaner—way to bake muffins.
3. Grind more than just joe
Use your coffee grinder to make herb mixes you can store in airtight containers. Before you do it though, take a piece of bread and grind it down. It will collect the bits of coffee in the grinder. And do this again after you grind your herbs, so your French roast doesn’t have an oregano aftertaste.
4. Make brownie pie with your panini press
You may have gotten a panini press as a present, or thought you were going to panini the daylights out of every sandwich in the house, but over time the press sat unused. Well, now you can get more mileage out of it, creating a brownie pie any day of the week—without turning on the oven. Then pour the batter into an 8-inch cake pan (instead of the pastry shell) and place it on the press at a medium setting. Close the lid and 20 minutes later, you’ve got pie. Brownie pie. You’re welcome.
5. (Garlic) press those Key limes
A garlic press becomes a handy juicer for little Key limes. Simply slice the Key lime in half, drop it into the press and squeeze. More juice, less mess.
6. Roll out fondant with a pasta maker
Bakers, rejoice! Your hand-crank or electric pasta maker is a great source of smooth fondant for small cakes and pastries, saving you time and sore arms from rolling.
7. Let chopsticks be your guide
Making hasselback potatoes? Take a pair of chopsticks and place one on either side of a potato to ensure even cuts that don’t go through the spud. Your knife will stop at contact with the chopsticks, ensuring a hassle-free hasselback.
8. Test cooking oil with a chopstick
Test whether your cooking oil in a pan is ready to go with those very same chopsticks. Dip a chopstick in the center of the pan of heating oil: If bubbles form around the stick, you’re ready to go.
9. Crank out spaghetti with a meat grinder
Use a (clean!) meat grinder to make round noodles like spaghetti. Remove the cutting blade, drop the dough in, and crank away. Noodles will come out uniform and ready for cutting at any length.
10. Shuck corn with a fluted tube pan
Want to cut corn kernels off the cob without wrangling a sharp—and potentially dangerous—knife? Grab your fluted tube pan and place the tapered end of the cob in the pan’s hole at an angle; push the cob down against the edge. The kernels will come off and collect in the pan.
11. Make herby ice cubes
Even though many refrigerators now have cube makers, you can still get mileage out of the old trays. Freeze freshly chopped herbs in the trays with water or stock, to add to recipes later. Learn how to make the most of your ice cube tray, here.
12. Melon-ball an apple
A melon baller is a pretty specific piece of kitchen equipment. With it, you can ball melons and, that’s about it. But what if you took that melon baller and used it to take the cores out of apples? Instant apple corer. It’s great for making quick apple treats, for the kids. (And try it with pears, too.)
There you have it: a dozen hacks for those kitchen tools you thought had just one use.
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