As a child, it ranked right up there with a trip to the dentist: appliance shopping with Mom and Dad. Times have changed (you're the parent now) – and so have those appliances. Bigger, faster and digital are "in." Some of the latest innovations could trigger a severe case of “I need to have that.”
The technology isn't new, but induction cooking is making a big comeback. And demand is driving down prices. Available in a cooktop, and now more readily as part of a freestanding range, induction technology uses an electromagnetic field to heat iron or steel cookware directly. (The rest of the cooking surface remains cool.) The result is a faster, safer, more energy-efficient method of cooking.
Speedcook ovens are increasing productivity (and decreasing wait times) in kitchens around the country. Just don't insult them by calling them microwaves. Harnessing the power of halogen light with a boost of microwave energy, Speedcook ovens can bake, grill and roast up to eight times faster than conventional ovens – with no preheating or sacrificing taste. Models like GE's Advantium doubles as a traditional sensor microwave and true European convection oven; an added bonus: 175 pre-programmed recipes.
Bigger is in demand, and refrigerator manufacturers are complying. The latest fridges boast impressive volume (as much as 32 cubic feet), as well as four-door and door-in-door designs. Dual evaporators (one for the fridge, one for the freezer) are no longer limited to high-end models, meaning that tomorrow's ice cubes won't taste like yesterday's leftovers.
They're a workhorse in the kitchen, but they're not above refinement. The next generation of dishwasher is delivering more washing and drying power with lots of special features, from full-color, advice-offering touch screens to adjustable racks and baskets and steam pre-wash options. Has last night's baked-on enchilada residue finally met its match?
Fast home-brewed coffee is now a no-brainer thanks to single-cup coffeemakers. Keurig pioneered the concept, and then kicked it up a notch with its fully programmable digital models. Now, Bunn has raised the stakes with My Cafe. Billed as four machines in one, it can handle Keurig's K-Cups, regular coffee grounds or soft coffee pods. It can also dispense hot water in less than a minute.
You want to blend-up a fruit smoothie at home, but don't want to spend a fortune for the appliance. Companies from Hamilton Beach to Oster are churning out 450-watt whirlers capable of crushing ice to smoothie consistency for less than $40. Pulverize the ice, not the budget.
Everything is going digital these days – even the brave little toaster. No more guessing how long it will be before your bagel is done. Digital displays now offer progress reports, counting down to your digitally predetermined level of doneness. Toast has never had it so good.