9 Fancy Toys for High-Tech Kitchens
Your kitchen counters and cabinets already house a food processor, a stand mixer, a Vitamix, and a juicer. You already know that if you’re going to have a seriously tricked-out kitchen, you need a sous vide immersion circulator, an induction cooktop, a butane torch, and a kitchen tablet. When you’ve stocked up on liquid nitrogen and need a new wishlist, take a good look at these fun gadgets. Just remember that the antimicrobial and easy-to-clean surfaces can only get you so far. Please disinfect where you drool.
The Smoking Gun
There’s a chance that you don’t have room for a large smoker out in back of your soon-to-be tricked out abode. Turns out, that may be fine — after all, how were you going to home-smoke your tequila to make small-batch mezcal in a big outdoor smoker anyway? Enter Williams Sonoma’s smoke gun. You can put small wispy wood chips in here to experiment with flavors and “quick smoke” anything your heart desires. Meat? Go for it. Try some applewood. Salads? Why not? Throw in some hickory. Did someone pick up plain potato chips when you definitely requested barbecue? Toss a little paprika on there and smoke them with some mesquite chips. In fact, you can bluff your way through pricier smoked paprika by smoking your own.
Don’t stop there: smoke salts, sugars (smokey is the It Thing in baking now), spirits, soups, anything you can think of. Don’t even restrict yourself to wood chips. Try smoking some tofu and mushrooms in a dashi broth by replacing the wood with tea. I recommend an oxidized oolong.
For more than just the grill, this little smartphone adapted thermometer comes from iDevices, Inc. and will alert your smartphone when your meat is cooked just the way you like it. The accompanying app will let you set the cook to your preferred level of doneness and the minimum and maximum temperatures as well as track a line graph visual of temperature over time. Then, when you pull your perfectly cooked meat off the heat, you can snap a photo and share it through your favorite social media channels.
The debate, of course, between probe thermometers and infrared thermometers is a valid one. There’s something to be said for not puncturing your meat when you cook it. However, an infrared thermometer only takes the surface temperature. For the perfect cook (not to mention food safety), you need to know the internal temperature. Just make sure you don’t remove the probe until after the meat has rested to ensure it stays perfectly juicy.
Price: Standard model (iOS and Android compatible) $79.99; iGrill Mini (iOS compatible) $39.99
Foodini, the 3-D Food Printer
We’ve seen them make guns and prosthetic hands, but soon you’ll be able to print your own food straight from your own kitchen. Barcelona-based start-up Natural Machines is releasing a countertop 3-D printer called Foodini that can print anything made from dough, paste, or a viscous liquid that can come out of a wide-mouthed syringe. So far, they’ve showcased spiderweb cookies, perfectly round individual pizzas, veggie burgers and burger buns, dino-shaped chickpea nuggets, dino-shaped spinach ricotta quiche bites, goldfish-shaped cheese crackers, ravioli, pumpkin gnocchi and, of course, chocolate sculptures.
The machine has an internal heating element to keep ingredients warm but doesn’t cook the food, so be sure to print directly onto some parchment paper or a pan for easy transfer to the oven or stove. Natural Machine’s goal is to cut the prep time for more involved dishes to encourage healthier eating, home cooking, and a break from processed foods.
Projected Price: 1,000 euros ($1367.30)
Ravi Instant Wine Chiller
Maybe you forgot to put your wine in your humidity-controlled cooler before dinner. Hope you have this wine chiller in your freezer! After working with experts for a few years to create a device that chills wine instantly without altering the taste, the folks at Ravi Solution up in Canada have developed the Ravi Instant Wine Chiller. As the wine travels down the metal pour spout, the chiller cools the liquid itself. The chill canister needs 6 hours in the freezer, but it’s made to be stored there (so no excuses).
The pour spout is made from the same stainless steel used in fermentation tanks, so it won’t affect the taste of your wine. There are two models, one for white (chills to 45 degrees Fahrenheit) and one for red (chills to 60 degrees Farenheit). The device will chill an entire bottle poured at once or stay cold up to an hour, whichever comes first. It’s not small — but it works like a charm.
Price: $39.95 CDN ($37.48 USD)
Kalorik Electronic Measuring Cup Kitchen Scale
With the Internet providing recipes written by people all over the world, you’ll inevitably run into one recipe that measures by weight and one recipe that measures by volume. This measuring cup is coming to your rescue; it has a built in scale! Featuring a detachable 1.5 L/qt stainless steel bowl for easy cleaning, an LCD display for reading the weight of the item you’re measuring, and specific modes for oil, water, milk, and flour. It’s not super high tech, but it’s an elegant cross between a bulky kitchen scale and a whole set of measuring cups. The downside? Batteries.
You should stop lighting your grill with lighter fluid. It’s bad for the environment and makes your food look like chemicals. Instead, use this Swedish invention to light your charcoal or wood chips in 60 seconds or less. The powerful heating element is combined with air flow for maximum directional heat. You can even use it to pre-heat your charcoal chimney to speed up the process of heating your charcoal. You do heat your charcoal in a chimney, don’t you? Oh, and it has a built-in bottle opener (as all good grilling tools should).
Touch Screen Countertops
Long a feature of Microsoft Home, the company’s model futuristic house, this isn’t far off. The technology to project from beneath and for you to interact with the “screen” that is your countertop exists. According to Silicon-Valley technology writer Mike Elgan written on Houzz.com, the London restaurant Inamo uses this technology to display its menu to diners, allowing them to select their order by tapping on the tabletop. As a feature of your kitchen counter, you’ll be able to read recipes projected right into your counter. Need to roll out a pie crust to a 9-inch diameter? No problem. This also stops the problem of getting food all over your tablet. When you’re done cooking, simply wipe down the counter like you always would. This one is still a couple years out, and does not have a priced prototype.
Sharp Electronics is working with their contest-winner-turned-intern to put her idea for an interactive cutting board into a working prototype and, soon after, a salable product. This is basically a chopping block with a super sturdy tablet embedded in it. The device is water-resistant (and will hopefully become waterproof), WiFi connected, and charges wirelessly so you won’t accidentally electrocute yourself with a stray chop to a wire. It’s a scale, as well, and when you need to actually do some chopping, you can turn the sensitivity on the touch screen down. Granted, it’s going to do a number on your knives, so make sure you get a really good knife sharpener, too. Sharp is putting a lot of emphasis on healthy portion sizes, so look forward to using this for your diet plans.
Last, not least, but certainly most expensive is Scanomat’s TopBrewer – a Danish-designed coffeemaker that, with a tap of an app on your smartphone, tablet, or embedded touchscreen, makes you an espresso in 25 seconds flat or a full cup of filter coffee in 15 seconds. It has patented the world’s smallest milk foamer, located in the tip of the faucet, to bring you a delicious cappuccino late or macchiato with your custom ratio of milk to espresso in record time. All the machinery is located below the counter it’s built into, including two burr grinders (so you can choose between, say, a dark roast or a light roast).
Concerned about how it’s making your espresso? According to Scanomat’s specifications, it uses 20 kilograms of tamping, pre-infusion, and 9 bars of pump pressure. It uses absolutely no power while it’s idle, flash heats the water for each portion of coffee so as not to degrade the water quality and taste, and it self-cleans after each use. Move over, siphon brewer. This is the ultimate toy for the high tech kitchen.
Price: Anywhere from $12,000 to $21,000, depending on the unit.