Lifestyle

Quality small kitchen appliances are big business


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Consumers who want to cook like pros will spend more for better features and higher quality

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When I started hearing industry talk of spikes in premium small-appliance sales, I knew I could get the big-picture view from Hamilton Beach, a company that’s been designing, developing, and marketing appliances for over a century, and whose commercial products are used in hospitality venues across the planet.

Director of marketing Louise Sauvé-Nicholls confirmed the bump in an email interview, suggesting it’s driven in part by home cooks expanding their recipe base and perfecting techniques during the pandemic.

“They get emotional rewards from scratch cooking, but life gets hectic, and they also have to take shortcuts, particularly on busy weeknights,” she says, adding that consumers who want to cook like pros will spend more for better features and higher quality–both for replacement and first-time purchases.

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That’s put renewed focus on Hamilton Beach’s own Professional line, which promises more durable materials, user-oriented design detail, and the right balance of performance and counter-top appeal. That includes, says Sauvé-Nicholls, such features as exaggerated scale on product feet for stability on surfaces, simple hand controls, and easy-to-read interfaces.

(NOTE: Prior to the interview, I was sent three Hamilton Beach products to test.)

The rise of vegetarian, vegan, and flexitarian diets has increased demand for higher performance appliances, says Sauvé-Nicholls. “Plant-based milks need powerful blenders to reduce nuts to smooth liquid form, for example and our new spiralizing food processor (which I review below) makes whole beets and sweet potatoes into beautiful ribbons. “

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Given that we’re now a two-person household, I didn’t think I’d use the Stack & Snap food processor a lot. I was wrong. Its 12-cup capacity reminded me why washing and prepping multiple servings of vegetable once a week or so is the base of a healthier diet, as well as a habit that can reduce waste and lower food bills, which are set to rise.

Grated carrots, for example, can be used throughout the week in a salad, stir-fry, muffins, or smoothie/juice. Useful for making large recipes to freeze in portions, the unit was also handy for quickly and easily grating eight cups of potato for a mid-week kugel that — along with a salad — nicely served four people.

Using the dough blade, I whipped up double batches of holiday cookies —freezing both raw dough and baked cookies. With the metal blade, I ground oats into flour to have on hand for non-gluten recipes, and chopped nuts, some of which I vacuum-packed for use next year.

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Sauvé-Nicholls suggests a spike in coffee-maker sales is driven by the shift to work from home, a landscape she doesn’t think will change quickly.
“People want quality appliances that will deliver each day, and because they’re concerned about sustainability in the home, they want them to last for years.”

The pandemic has also encouraged home cooks to become more adventurous, and more connected, says Sauvé-Nicholls. “They like to reproduce favourite restaurant meals, and they get inspiration from social media or virtual cooking with family and friends.”

The 12-cup pro coffee maker I tested had some very cool features, including one you can’t see but can taste: high brewing temperature combines with an oversized showerhead (the part that sprays hot water over the coffee) to evenly saturate it for the best flavour.

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It can be programmed to keep warm for up to four hours in ten-minute increments in low, medium, or high settings to suit your taste and your schedule. As for clever little design touches, a coffee scoop fits snugly and conveniently into the top of the machine.

It pairs well with the line’s conical burr digital coffee grinder. Grinding beans just before brewing always produces better results, but this machine also handles the next step — using precise settings to get optimal grounds for a range of makers. It’s also pretty quiet, another nod to the user experience Sauvé-Nicholls describes as fundamental to the collection.
For more pro kitchen tips, go to www.aroundthehouse.ca

Vicky Sanderson is the editor of Around the House, www.aroundthehouse.ca.
Check her out on Instagram@athwithvicky, on Twitter ATHwithVicky
and on facebook.com/ATHVicky.

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