A unitasker only needs to do the one thing, so it does that one thing really well.
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Our first apartment had one of the smallest kitchens I’ve ever seen. It didn’t have a dishwasher, and both counter and storage space were premium real estate. As a result, I had very strict rules about what kitchen tools I would buy for cooking. For example, in accordance with my culinary hero, Alton Brown, I never bought unitaskers. My current kitchen is bigger, but I’ve kept those habits when it comes to keeping a minimalist kitchen.
Which means I kept the rule about not buying any unitaskers. If the tool was designed to only do the one thing, I wouldn’t allow it in the kitchen — I’m looking at you, avocado slicer, pineapple corer, strawberry huller, and oyster shucker. That’s also how I ended up with multitaskers in the kitchen: a toaster oven that toasts, bakes, broils, and air fries (we made great use of it for Thanksgiving), a pressure cooker that’s a workhorse, and a blender that has food processor attachments. (We also tried a microwave that also had a toaster on the side of it, but that didn’t really work out.)
But over time, I realized that certain unitaskers absolutely earn their place in the kitchen. Other than the obvious knives, utensils, etc., here are the unitaskers I’ve discovered over the years that I now wouldn’t do without.
I use garlic in almost all of my dishes. Especially if I am making a dish without a recipe, it’ll almost definitely involve garlic. I don’t want to spend tons of time mincing garlic, then spreading it around on the cutting board to make it a paste when the garlic press can do an excellent job in a fraction of the time. It doesn’t take up much space, it was inexpensive, and I use it all the time.
The one on the left is different from the one I have, but this is the one I’d buy if mine ever broke.
Garlic presses can be a pain to clean if you let the garlic dry in those little holes, so I’ve found cleaning it immediately after use is the best option.
This might be considered a multitasker if you consider that it will juice multiple types of citrus, but that’s a stretch. My husband and I make our own sparkling water, and we always add lemon or lime juice for a little refreshing flavor. The problem is that when I squeeze a lemon by hand, more juice ends up on my fingers and counters than in the glass I’m aiming for. The citrus juicer not only keeps the seeds out of the drink, but also ensures that the juice is directed exactly where we want it.
This may or may not be considered a unitasker since it slices many vegetables, but in terms of functionality, it doesn’t do anything other than slice. We don’t use this as often as the other items on this list, but when we need it, boy are we glad we have it. I often make variations of cucumber salad, and the mandolin makes quick work of the cukes. The slices are much more uniform, and it’s faster than slicing by hand.
The link is to the one I actually have, though it was $40 when I bought it (now it’s $80 at the time of this post).
I didn’t start drinking sparkling water until last year because I didn’t like the way any of them tasted. Then I discovered Spindrift, which is made with real fruit juice instead of essential oils or artificial flavors, and it changed everything. Suddenly, we were drinking case after case of Spindrift and trying every new flavor we came across. Even though the cans and packaging are recyclable, I was bothered by the amount of waste we were generating and the cost was really adding up. The DrinkMate™ is a great alternative to premade sparkling water, if you can spare the counter space.
Sometimes when we buy fancy drinks from restaurants, like our favorite ginger limeade, we can buy 1 serving, split it between glasses and top them up with plain sparkling water. Although the DrinkMate seems expensive, with the amount we were spending on Spindrift each month, this actually paid itself off in 2 months, including the cost of additional CO2 canisters. Spindrift is my favorite pre-made sparkling water, but nothing beats the flavor of fresh fruit juice.
Almost 3 years ago, I gave my old rice cooker to my sister because I bought a pressure cooker, which can technically make rice. I say “technically” because it has the ability to make rice, but the rice it makes is just ok. That was fine when we were eating cheap rice once in a while, but as we started eating rice more often with ichiju sansai, we also started buying better quality rice. I quickly got tired of my rice tasting like the last meal I made in the pressure cooker. Using the rice cooker is a lot easier, has a timer, and the rice tastes better — not just because the rice doesn’t taste like chili, but because the rice cooker just does a better job.
It’s all about doing a better job and using a unitasker often enough. Slicing and coring a pineapple isn’t the easiest task, but I don’t do it often enough to justify a dedicated tool for it.
The unitaskers that are worth it for me are the ones that I use often, and every time I use them I think, How did I ever cook without this? Sure, we can accomplish the same task without the tool, but when a unitasker makes the process faster, easier, and in some cases, better, I opt for the tool if I have the money and space.
Sometimes a unitasker is great because it’s a unitasker. It only needs to do the one thing, so it does that one thing really well. You could peel a potato with a knife, but a vegetable peeler makes it safer.