Appliance Hackathon

6 hacks that will breathe new life into your dusty appliances and kitchen gear
Photo: Dave Katz/Tasting Table
Kitchen Appliance Hacks

Even the best food could use a dash of ones and zeros. Geek out with us as we explore the intersection of food and technology this month.

Like discovering $20 in your back pocket, finding new ways to use that fancy standing mixer, blender or whatever is gathering dust in your kitchen is a magical feeling. One that makes you realize these gadgets have unlimited possibilities—and that it wasn't a mistake to splurge on them.

You already know how to hibernate your rice cooker for black garlic and how to use your cocktail shaker to make whipped cream. But what about the unsung coffee thermos or even your hand drill? (Those cupboards aren't screwed in with a fancy Japanese knife.)

Here's what chefs and bartenders are doing to breathe new life into their kitchen gear.

Pressure Cooker

At Otaku Ramen, Nashville's first ramen-ya, chef/owner Sarah Gavigan sloshes through one metric ton of tonkotsu a week. At home, it's more like one pressure cooker full. The sleek little contraption traps in steam to raise the boiling temperature of what's inside, which means the 20 or so hours it takes to make the fatty, pork bone broth is cut in half for the home cook. And don't get her started on the merits of the pressure cooker. "Overnight oats, beans for breakfast," Gavigan lists. "I love my pressure cooker."

Coffee Thermos

And you thought secretly storing boozy drinks in your thermos was pretty cool. Aaron Bludorn, the executive chef at Café Boulud in New York City, gets saucy with his coffee thermos. "Storing meat- and butter-based sauces in a coffee thermos keeps them hot and also prevents the sauces from concentrating due to evaporation," he says.

Cocktail Shaker

Usually, you're trying to avoid cooking your eggs before they're frothed over your Tom and Jerry, but Jeret Peña, the bartender behind The Brooklynite, Stay Golden Social House and The Last Word, all in San Antonio, Texas, says, go on. "This is a funny hack, but I use my shaker tins when making scrambled eggs," Peña says. "The vigorous shaking of the egg in the tin beautifully emulsifies the egg, so it's super frothy." He throws two eggs and whatever else he wants (spinach, onions, mushrooms) into the shaker and shakes for about 10 seconds before pouring into a hot, butter-glazed skillet. Pro tip from Peña: Watch the pan closely. "The eggs are aerated so much they will cook really fast," he says.

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Vacuum Sealer

There's even hope for your overly zealous sous-vide-cooking-era purchases. "The vacuum sealer isn't just for sous vide," Bobby Will, the executive chef at Saltaire Oyster Bar and Fish House in Port Chester, New York, says. "It can be used to rapidly increase the speed of pickling." Whereas your bread and butters take several hours, the vacuum sealer squeezes out pickles in as little as 30 seconds, thanks to negative pressure crushing vegetable cell walls, pushing water out and sucking in the brine.

Hand Drill

You probably don't keep a hand drill in your kitchen, but we couldn't get over how Yigit Pura, the pastry chef behind Tout Sweet in San Francisco, uses his. "Peeling apples and pears! This was immensely helpful during holidays," Pura says. "Put your apple or pear on your hand drill, turn it on and put a peeler right on it to peel an apple in two seconds." And for the overachievers: "You can peel an entire case of 150 apples in under 15 minutes."


Our summer companion could use a little love right now. "I love smoking meats on the barbecue," Chad Brauze, the chef at The Back Room in New York, says. "So much so, in fact, that I've put together my own temperature controller for my 'pit,' which is a reconditioned 50-gallon drum. Basically, it is just a small computer with a fan and a temperature probe." Most New Yorkers aren't blessed with lush backyard space, so Brauze's made his own with a charcoal-powered grill. "When the controller senses that the temperature of my barbecue drops, it ramps up the fan to stoke the coals. I can even set the temperature from my iPhone," Brauze says. "My programming degree really came in handy with this project."

Find Café Boulud here, or in our DINE app.

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