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Everyday Cheapskate: 6 Kitchen Tools That Are a Complete Waste of Time and Money

Mary Hunt on

Celebrity chef Alton Brown contends that a kitchen tool that does only one job is mostly useless. He calls anything like a garlic press, strawberry stem remover or hot dog steamer a "unitasker."

His advice? Don't waste your time and money on any kitchen tool if it is only good for one thing.

It sounds a bit like Brown spent time with my grandma who was big on buying a sack of flour to bake bread and then sewing the sack into a dress. And when the dress wore out, she would cut it into rags for a rug. Or pieces for a quilt.

Grandma Schwartz, an elegant woman of means, would save bread wrappers and crochet them into kitchen rugs. When one of Grandpa's shirts would begin to show wear, she would meticulously take the collar and cuffs off, turn them and re-sew them in place. Voila! The worn sides would now be on the inside, where they wouldn't show, offering that shirt a whole a new lease on life. Oh, wouldn't Alton be proud?


It does just one thing, and not so well, according to more than a few professional chefs. Brown doesn't think you need one. Well, actually, he said, "There is absolutely no reason for a garlic press to exist. It is utterly, completely, magnificently useless."


Mincing the garlic with a sharp knife is quick and easy, and you won't lose all of the oils and garlicky goodness that gets left behind in a press. Besides, who wants to spend the time cleaning one of those things?


Easy to use, for sure, and kinda cute, too. But this tool does only one thing: removes the hull of a strawberry. Alton sees no reason anyone should waste the money on this gizmo. I have to agree, since I've learned to do the exact same thing but so much better -- with a plastic drinking straw. Just hold the strawberry in one hand and push the plastic drinking straw up through the bottom of the strawberry. The entire hull and stem will pop right through the top.



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