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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Zyliss Kitchen Tools & Gadgets {product review}

Every cook loves their tools.  Some cooks love their gadgets.  Most cooks have at least one (disorganized - please tell me I'm not the only one) drawer full of equipment with various degrees of use.

I am a tool lover (knives, wooden spoons, hand-held graters, strainers)...and a gadget hoarder (cherry pitter, garlic slicer, various zesters and peelers, and doo-dads).  So when I had the opportunity to choose from an array of Zyliss food slicers, choppers, tools, and gadgets - the hardest part was deciding which ones to try first!

I'm pretty good at making a dollar stretch.  What can I say, I have plenty of practice.  So I chose five different items that I knew would get use in my kitchen.  Well, I knew that four would get used for sure - one was a toss-up and something I may not have tried if I had to shell out my own money.  Okay, I probably would have given in eventually, but this gave me the opportunity to try it sooner.

The Zyliss kitchen tools and gadgets listed here each cost $15 or less.  What I like about all of them in general is their thick, sturder construction and their bold colors.  I had a bit of fun testing them out, and here is what I found...

Zyliss Kitchen Tools review |
product: Corn Stripper
category: gadget
uses: stripping corn from the cob (duh)
pros:  sharp / solid / nice to look at
cons: Since the width of the serrated blade is substantial, you have to watch your corn-holding thumb, or you may lose a little skin.
toy or necessity: toy
recommend: If you're in the market for a corn stripper, then yes.
overall thoughts: So, obviously I can just use a knife to cut corn from the cob.  But since I had the chance, I wanted to give the corn stripper a try.  I like the slight curve of the serrated blade, it helps alleviate those square corners you get from using a knife.  The only thing I notice is that you have to be sure to put pressure on the tool when  you're in the process of pulling it down, otherwise you'll only strip a thin layer from the top.  What's that mean?  Possible corn waste if you're not paying attention - nobody likes tiny kernels.  If you're not a gadget-freak, you'll probably just want to sharpen your knife.

Zyliss Kitchen Tools review |
product: Coarse Grater
category: tool
uses: grating hard cheeses and vegetables
pros: rubber feet on the grater to keep it steady / sharp! / heft, comfortable handle / protective cover for safe storage / it's pretty (but not too pretty for a guy)
cons: I couldn't really find any
toy or necessity: necessity
recommend: Definitely, every cook needs both a fine grater and a coarse grater in their arsenal.
overall thoughts: I can't think of anything that I didn't like about this grater.  It's sturdy, it's sharp, and it's comfortable to use.

Zyliss Kitchen Tools review |
product: Vegetable Brush
category: tool
uses: scrubbing the dirt or residue from vegetables and some fruits
pros: sturdy bristles / fits nicely in my hand / again, it's bold and visually pleasing
cons: I haven't found any so far.
toy or necessity: I'd say necessity
recommend: yes
overall thoughts:  This brush has coarse bristles for scrubbing harder fruits and veggies like root vegetables, hard-skinned fruits, and the skin of winter squash (which I leave on when I roast mine, so it's perfect).  It also has softer bristles for cleaning more delicate things like peaches, plums, strawberries - and even a delicate mushroom.  I go crazy if I don't have a vegetable brush in my kitchen, and this is a brand and style I'll gladly keep next to my sink.

Zyliss Kitchen Tools review |
product: garlic slicer
category: gadget
uses: thinly slices garlic or other small fruits or vegetables like strawberries, olives, and mushrooms
pros: non-slip base so it doesn't slide while slicing / storage compartment underneath to hold sliced food / sturdy / easy to use
cons: blade is not adjustable, so you have to deal with the thickness you get
toy or necessity: toy
recommend: If you're not very good at making thin, consistent slices with a knife, then yes.
overall thoughts:  This was the product I was look forward to the most, because I've had a different brand of mini-slicer like this that I've used to slice garlic for years, and it's getting pretty dull.  I like this, but I really, really wanted it to yield thinner slices.  My goal was to achieve paper-thin slices of garlic (that I like to use in things like Puttanesca Sauce and Garlicky Fried Rice).  This gives slices that are slightly thicker than ⅛ of an inch.  Still thin, but not paper-thin.  I haven't used it to slice anything else yet, but I think it will make perfect slices of strawberries, mushrooms, and olives.

Zyliss Kitchen Tools review |
product: Smart Dial Timer
category: tool
uses: self-explanatory
pros: good-sized display / magnets for sticking to fridge / can be set for up to 20 hours (!) / bold color
cons: if you have kids, they're gonna want to play with it
toy or necessity: necessity
recommend: Yes - if only because I've never seen a kitchen timer that allowed a time of more than 90 minutes (let alone 20 hours) to be set.
overall thoughts: I like timers that have magnets, so that's a plus.  I like the big display.  It takes one AAA battery (easy).  Most of all I like that I can set it for up to 20 hours.  The volume on the buzzer/beeper can be adjusted, that's nice.  I just find one thing strange, and that's the large, blinking light (the button that sets the timer).  I don't quite understand why it blinks.  I've experimented a little and I think that it flashes faster as your time gets closer to being done - but I can't tell if that's a trick of the mind, or if it's actually happening.  But that doesn't detract from all the things I love about the timer, it doesn't really matter a lick.  I may develop more of an understanding for the light after I've had it longer.  I may not.  Either way, it has a 20 hour timer, people.  That's good enough for me.

So tell me.  What are your must-have kitchen tools?  How 'bout your couldn't-live-without kitchen gadgets? Do you have experience with Zyliss products or are you true to another brand?

I received the products mentioned in this post at no charge via GigaSavvy. No compensation was received in exchange for this review. All opinions stated in this post are 100% my own.