Over the past year, I've tested many gadgets. Most were a lot of fun to play with for a short time, but others earned a coveted spot in my permanent kitchen arsenal. My top eight picks range from stocking stuffers to more sizable appliances that would look good wrapped and waiting under the tree.
My summertime favorite gadget was this Stem Gem strawberry huller from Chef'n. It's a fast, neat way to hull strawberries, and it's inexpensive. Works on tomatoes, too.
Omega Slow Speed Juicer
The Omega slow speed juicer hasn't turned me into a green juice addict, but this fall's tomato-sauce-making was soooo much easier thanks to this little machine. Fresh pineapple juice is also a favorite
Hamilton Beach Open Ease Jar Opener
The Hamilton Beach Open Ease Jar Opener hangs on a pegboard in my kitchen and gets used regularly. Yeah, laugh if you will, but I'm not the one grunting over a tight jar lid.
Zeroll Ice Cream Scoop
The Zeroll ice cream scoop is simple and does its job well. Practically indestructible.
Ninja Cooking System
The Ninja Cooking System has been sitting on my counter top since it arrived and I've used it for everything from cheesecake to roast pork to turkey stock. Although I wasn't unhappy with my previous slow cooker, this has more features and the nonstick interior is much easier to clean. Ninja, $159.80
Fresh Force Juicer
This citrus squeezer from Chef'n takes less effort and it seems to extract more juice. I had a similar squeezer before, but like this one better.
OXO Potato Ricer
I am fiercely in love with this new potato ricer from OXO. This is the third ricer I've owned, and this one is no doubt the best. You change the size of the holes by twisting the bottom ring, and it comes apart for cleaning.
Excaliber Food Dehydrator
Too late for the 2012 reviews (but coming soon) is this five-tray food dehydrator from Excalibur. I've used a setting on my oven to dry fruits and vegetables, but that ties up the oven for way too long. Excalibur, $249.95; other dehydrators start at $129.99