Preparing and storing tasty dishes very quickly is now easier, thanks to the contribution of household appliances such as choppers, peelers, blenders, mixers, graters, vacuum machines. The offer is always wider and includes solutions for all needs, but always paying attention to the technological content, design and practicality
by Lara Colombi
The time available is less and less, but people are more and more demanding regarding the quality of the dishes they cook. This is the case for many people who show themselves attentive to the quality of their diet, but do not want to spend hours and hours behind the cooker. Today, home technology offers a great help to overcome this problem and prepare food in a practical and fast way. In the kitchens, appliances as a hand blender are almost essential as well as whisk and chopper. But also other tools for food storage are becoming more and more popular as vacuum machines, food dryers and blast chillers, often thanks to numerous culinary programs that have helped consumers to understand the advantages of these technologies. In short, the world of small appliances for preparation and conservation is populated with new proposals that increasingly take the example of professional kitchens.
The healthy driver
The search for healthy and healthy food is one of the most evident trends in recent years in the food sector. This is a trend that involves very heterogeneous groups of the population, but that closely concerns above all the most modern consumers, who have little time available and who make extensive use of the Web. It is not a coincidence that foods that are experiencing a very strong growth in on-line orders there are precisely smoothies, centrifuges and fruit and vegetable juices, which recorded an increase of 86% according to data from Just Eat.
This “fashion”, so widespread, has consequences also on the choice of appliances in the kitchen. In fact, the traditional blender becomes even more indispensable to prepare fresh drinks with fruit and vegetables at home too. This very widespread kitchen tool must have certain characteristics, starting from the power and capacity of the container, which today can be particularly high, but also the possibility of having re-closable glasses, which can be transported anywhere without having to transfer what you have prepared to bring it with you. It is also essential that the blades ensure perfect mixing and that, power and heat, do not deprive the food of precious nutritional characteristics. Finally, design is not to be underestimated. The blender is often well visible on the kitchen worktop and the current trend wants it elegant, with a stainless steel body, glass container and bright LEDs.
More features in less space
Those who have little space, however, as increasingly happens in modern kitchens – smaller and often visible in the living room – renounce to the classic blender and choose a handy one, equipped with numerous accessories and therefore often able to perform the same functions. These models preserve the great advantage of being able to be disassembled and be less bulky or can be hooked to a wall support so that are always close to hand in the kitchen. The most advanced models have adjustable speed and are equipped with different containers and blades suitable for every need in addition to discs able to chop fruits and vegetables into perfect cubes. In this way handy blender can be used as a real compact kitchen robot. The equipment is often completed with whips that make the purchase of the traditional electric mixer superfluous. And thanks to these additional features minipimer , previously underestimated, has become indispensable and at the same time extremely practical to show everyone’s creativity in the kitchen. And after the use, very often it is possible to disassemble the different parts of the appliance to wash them comfortably in a dishwasher, thus reducing the space occupied as well as the time taken for cleaning.
Saving precious time
Time is another variable that often pushes us to purchase small appliances that can make cooking less hard. Regardless of whether in the kitchen there is an impeccable chef or just a good fork, for everyone it is essential to be able to skip boring operations that make the preparation of dishes long and tiring. Among the activities considered more laborious in terms of energy, there is certainly the preparation of vegetables that must be peeled, washed and cut. These are repetitive and not creative operations that today we prefer to avoid, using the help of electric peelers and choppers.
The latter are versatile and functional tools that help us in the kitchen to explore new culinary worlds since they allow to prepare very interesting recipes with different kind of vegetables, which enrich the dishes with different and heterogeneous details and processes. A good reason for using the food processor is precisely the simple and functional preparation of dishes with vegetables, raw or cooked, cut and processed in different ways. Thanks to this tool it is possible to cook vegetable and velvety soups, or innovative and colorful dishes in just a few minutes. On the market now there are models for every need and for all budgets.
You cannot miss then, always to gain time, an electric grater that today, thanks to technological developments, is useful not only for cheese. The multifunctional models are practical and, like minipimers, in a single device contain different tools for cutting, slicing and finally grating. The most comfortable are those without wires, essential to move freely in the kitchen, without having to depend on electric socket or cables.
More freedom with wireless tools
Many household appliances today take this need into account by proposing more and more frequently rechargeable battery accessories, which offer the advantage of great practicality and freedom of movement, with a worktop free of cables and plugs. Technological developments allow much longer autonomy and rather short charging times. Even from the point of view of safety and respect for the environment, considerable progress has been made in recent years: current batteries no longer contain cadmium, which is very polluting. Of course there are plenty of kitchen tools that have a battery: from handy vacuum to graters, from mixers and handy blenders. For this latter appliance, in particular, the absence of wire is a very interesting plus because avoids the risk of contact with hot surfaces during the processing of food. In addition, the support bases to recharge these devices are designed with a great care from the aesthetic point of view and allow users to save space inside the drawers or keep these tools in sight, almost as if they were kitchen furnishing objects.
Goodbye waste with vacuum, blast chillers and dryers
In addition to the healthy trend, another widespread topic in the contemporary debate on nutrition is that of waste. Contrary to popular belief, most of the food thrown away does not arrive from the large industries or supermarkets, but from homes. This is a very important problem that can be contained with a greater attention to how shopping is done, but also how food is stored. If once the only storage appliances in the homes were refrigerators and freezers, today the product range also includes vacuum machines, dryers and blast chillers. If used correctly, these technologies prove to be very efficient for food storage, each being suitable for different uses. If you want to keep a product for a short time, vacuum is a good choice. In fact, the absence of air allows to minimize the activity of mold and aerobic bacteria and to prevent the oxidation of foods, which therefore remain virtually unaltered both at sight and at taste. Another interesting application is vacuum cooking, which is very fashionable today. Using suitable vacuum bags, in fact, it is possible to cook food at a low temperature, maintaining even more intact the nutritional characteristics.
However, the vacuum allows only the expiration of the products to be extended by a few days, while for longer preservation it is possible to choose freezing or drying. This process can now be done at home, through practical tools that can deprive fruits and vegetables of water, allowing a natural conservation. This is obviously a process that almost completely modifies the product, which however preserves a good part of its nutritional qualities. Another increasingly common tool in the kitchens is the multifunctional blast chiller, which allows you to quickly lower the temperature of the food, limiting to the minimum the possibility that external agents can modify its quality. Sometimes these tools can even be used for some touch of originality in recipes, because they allow to crystallize sweets or other preparations. In short, these are tools that can find the widest applications in the kitchen, from the most practical to the most creative ideas.
|«Security and quality, if used carefully»
Antonio Trifirò , head of the vegetable conserves department of Ssica http://www.ssica.it/ (the experimental station for the vegetable conserve industry), explains the advantages of home appliances for storage, which, with little precautions, can offer very high guarantees.
«Many of the small storage appliances we find in our homes are simply solutions designed for the small scale food industry, suitable for the domestic format. The introduction of these solutions in homes is absolutely positive because it allows to achieve greater food safety and a better biological quality of preserved food. Once people had to settle for a refrigerator, but today the technologies available to families have increased: for example, vacuum machines are very useful, because they allow to substantially limit the growth of microorganisms, such as anaerobic bacteria and molds. Significant advantages can also be achieved with regard to the quality of the products, because the absence of oxygen allows the reduction of oxidation, keeping the organoleptic qualities of food unaltered for longer. It is necessary that these machines reach a high level of vacuum and, above all, that consumers use suitable bags for contact with the type of food to be stored and that have not previously been used to contain other foods. In addition to preservation, low temperature vacuum cooking is also more and more used: it is an interesting method to maintain the organoleptic characteristics of the product, but care must be taken to ensure proper cooking even at the heart, especially for foods that need to be cooked completely for security reasons. From the conservation point of view, also food dryers are very effective, because they allow to drastically reduce the water activity, a basic condition for the development of microorganisms. The downside is that the food obtained with this tool is completely different from the fresh one. I add a warning: generally at home people do not have all the necessary tools to measure the presence of water, having the absolute certainty of the level of drying achieved, so these products should still be used with caution and common sense.
In the future there may be interesting developments in the use of ozone in refrigerators for sanitizing purposes. Very often the fridge shelves are real breeding grounds for microorganisms. The use of ozone would limit the proliferation of bacteria and molds, with an improvement in the healthiness of our household appliance.»