Our 2016 List of Gifts To Please Every Cook

presentsIn the Amana colonies in Iowa, settled by religious German immigrants, the residents built their homes without kitchens because they dined in communal kitchens. The rest of us often cook, eat, and socialize in our kitchens, so a food-related gift item---something edible or some helpful tool for preparing food--is usually welcome.


Gift-giving occasions are many--including this holiday season, graduations, bridal showers, weddings, birthdays, house-warming, and more.  Shelf Life Advice Advisory Board members have often been asked to tell this website what's new and/or useful for preparing meals and snacks.  You may find that some of these items would also be an ideal addition to your own kitchen. 


Recommended by food scientist Dr. Catherine N. Cutter:


Sensor soap pump for hands-free hand washing.



Stainless steel salad spinner to remove excess water from produce.



Countertop composter to encourage composting of food scraps in your kitchen.



Bristle free grill brush keeps metal bristles off of your grilled foods!



Food hugger made from silicone cups that keep your fruits and veggies fresh longer.



Recommended by food process engineer Dr. Timothy Bowser:


Here's my list of kitchen gift suggestions related to food:


1.  This is one of my favorites! It’s inexpensive and great for cleaning some very difficult-to-reach surfaces. Not good for everything, but everyone that likes clean utensils could probably use this neat item:  The magnetic spot scrubber by Cuisipro. $9.95 on Amazon: (https://www.amazon.com/Cuisipro-Magnetic-Spot-Scrubber-Black/dp/B00CFIKM2Q). See a video of the magnetic spot scrubber in action at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RtpOxlp3ks


2.   Ice cream is one of my favorite foods, and this new ice cream scoop by Tovolo makes it so much easier to get it out of the container. It is ergonomic, balanced, and has built-in feet to keep counters clean! A super example of a simple, well-designed kitchen tool. $16.99 on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Tovolo-Tilt-Cream-Scoop-Blue/dp/B00395DD2U)


3.   Chef’n has improved the mandolin-style food slicer. They have made it more ergonomic and added a dial to select the slice thickness. Check it out at their website (and watch the video of the slicer in action):  http://www.chefn.com/featured-products/sleekslicetm-collapsible-mandoline.html


4.   The Tovolo “Clean Flip BBQ Tray” solves an important problem for $21.56  on Amazon Prime (https://www.amazon.com/Tovolo-Clean-Flip-BBQ-Trays/dp/B00D515222). The tray has a reversible surface. One side can be used for raw meat and the other for cooked. This ingenious tray prevents cross-contamination effortlessly!


5.   The Lekue cookie cutter kits are fun for family activities and for making great cookies! The company has a “Transportation” kit that features vehicle shapes and a “Princess” themed kit. Each costs about $19.99 on Amazon: (https://www.amazon.com/Lekue-Cookie-Cutter-Transportation-Stainless/dp/B00OUWDW2M/ref=sr_1_1?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1481215203&sr=1-1&keywords=lekue+transportation).


While you are looking at Lekue products, you should check out Lekue’s puzzle cookie cutters that help you quickly make cool puzzles that you can eat! (https://www.amazon.com/Lekue-Cookie-Cutter-Puzzle-Animals/dp/B00OXS7QYS/ref=sr_1_1?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1481215487&sr=1-1&keywords=lekue+puzzle).


Recommended by food scientist Dr. Karin Allen:


Silicone-coated whisks are essential if you have enamel coated or non-stick cookware.  Stainless steel whisks can scratch or chip the coating and shorten the life of your pans. 


Silicone- coated whisks are also wonderful for uncoated aluminum pans.  Regular whisks can scrape up small amounts of aluminum and discolor your food (especially light colored creamy sauces and soups). 


Make sure the wires are coated with silicone, not plastic, if you plan to use them in hot pans. At this writing, Amazon is selling a set of 3 silicone-coated whisks for $12.95.




Recommended by your Shelf Life  Advice editor:

I love my Gotham Steel Titanium and ceramic non-stick frying pans. These widely advertised  and widely displayed products are  seriously non-stick even without the use of butter or oil. The gook just slides off!  I've used mine for months now, and they've yet to retain a stain, stubborn stuck-on residue, or scratch. I've seen the pans in two different sizes (what I consider medium and large).  I only hope the company makes non-stick pots soon. 




You can buy these on Amazon or from many chain large stores. The pans, when first introduced, cost about $10 apiece and were usually sold in a package of 2 for $19.95.  The newest model is a deeper pan that comes with a lid.  It's been  advertised recently on TV for  about $49.


Other gift suggestions Shelf Life Advice has recommended in past years:

If  the above suggestions don't match well with the folks still on your holiday gift list, here's a tip: just type "gifts" into the search box on this site's home page.  That will lead you to links for several articles about gifts suitable for the Xmas season, graduations, bridal showers and weddings, or housewarming.  Moreover, these lists will undoubtedly  encourage you to buy a few gifts for your own kitchen. 




Still haven't found the perfect gift for your foodie friend? A 2016 book about food can be found for just about every type of foodie.  For recommendations, just google "2016 cookbooks" or "books about food," and you'll reach links galore.



Karin E. Allen, Ph.D., Utah State University, Dept. of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences


Timothy J. Bowser, Ph.D. , Oklahoma State University, Dept. of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering


Catherine Nettles Cutter, Ph.D. , Pennsylvania State University, Department of Food Science


Wikipedia.org "Amana Colonies" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amana_Colonies


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