From the sublime to the "Why didn't I think of that?" were all represented at the 2013 International Home & Housewares Show in Chicago. Here are my picks, in no particular order, for the hot new products that really work from the 2013 show.
OXO, used with permission
If you love mangoes but hate cutting them open because of the large pit, here's the answer to your prayers. OXO's stainless-steel Good Grips Mango Splitter works like a charm. It's dishwasher safe, and features a blade cover that keeps fingers away from the sharp (and I do mean sharp) blade when it's in storage. This tool even works on ripe mangoes without reducing them to mush. Best of all, you can return the product for repair, replacement or refund.
Wilton, used with permission.
Wilton has always been on the cutting edge of trends in the baking industry. And, if they are still touting cupcakes, you know the trend is here to stay. The Two-Tone Cupcake Baking Set makes two-, three- and even four-colored cupcakes a snap. And the ideas presented in their Cupcakes! book will help you produce a unique product.
Duff Goldman by Gartner Studio, used with permission.
Get your groove on with Duff Goldman, of Charm City Cakes fame, and Gartner Studios' Tie-Dye Cake Mix. It comes with food coloring to create a six-colored two- or three-layer tie-dye cake. It's an easy process and this How to Make a Tie-Dye Cake video makes it even easier. Frost the cake (not included in the kit) or cover it with fondant and then add Duff's peace-and-love royal-icing decorations reminiscent of the era. Wouldn't this make a far-out cake for a retro '60s party? Other new items that debuted at the show include Zingy Raspberry Cake and Cupcake Filling, Ready-to-Serve Frostings in chocolate, fudge, cream cheese and white, five new Gumpaste Cake Decorations – Rose, Lilly, Star, Candy, Happy Birthday. There are two new Cake Tattoos - Tie-Dye and Princess -- Yellow Airbrush Color, Mini 7-inch Rolling Pin, Tropical Sanding Sugars in Mango, Pineapple and Strawberry, 1-pound Colored Fondant in Black, Red and Pink, and three new designs of Colorful Candles.
Here's another item from Fagor America that wasn't new, but a winner all the same and just in time for preserving all those fruits and veggies that are about to come in. This all-in-one kit (minus the glass canning jars) includes a 10-quart stainless-steel pressure cooker, canning cookbook, pressure cooking booklet, a canning rack, stainless-steel funnel, stainless-steel ladle, jar lifter, jar wrench, bubble freer, magnetic lid lifter, instructional DVD and a user's manual. Pressure canning is the only safe method of preserving low-acid foods like meats, seafood, green veggies and anything with a ph level of more than 4.6. Can up to four quarts of preservative-free foods at a time on any cooking surface, including induction. For me, this product really takes the worry out of whether my food has been safely preserved.
Excalibur, used with permission.
Another item that is indispensable for preserving summer's bounty of fruits and vegetables is the Excalibur Food Dehydrator. Preserving food by drying is as old as man himself and a popular method of storing food for the winter in Eastern Europe. But never has it been so easy or accomplished so quickly (sometimes in only four hours) in these five- and nine-tray dehydrators. I used to dry my tomatoes in the sun or variously on a very low oven for hours and hours, if not days. With the Excalibur 9-tray dehydrator, I can dry up to nine different food items at a time, as long as the temperature requirements are the same. I've done tomatoes, blackberries, strawberries and I've even risen coffee cake dough in it. It's my new best friend.
I have searched and searched for a manually operated apple peeler that won't fall apart after the first few pies. Enter the Bistro Apple Peeler from Bodum. While not a new product debuting at the Housewares Show, it's a product that has stood the test of time. It will turn a bushelful of apples into pie in no time. It does everything for you except make the crust and bake it!
Totally Bamboo, used with permission.
I've always been fond of eco-friendly Totally Bamboo products and knowing that a purchase of the Tree of Life cutting board benefits the National Forest Foundation makes it a must-have in the kitchen. The company says, "Bamboo is a grass that grows to maturity in five years. It does not need to be replanted, artificially irrigated or fertilized, making it one of the world's most renewable resources." Sounds like a win-win situation for us and the environment. Among the new Totally Bamboo items this year are the State Cutting Boards (in the shape of many U.S. states) and the Bamboo Lettuce Knife which prevents browning of cut greens and gives a hand-cut look to the product. It also can be used to cut crusty breads and cakes.
Dexas International, used with permission.
Dexas International has long been known for its high-quality cutting boards, but the kitchen tools and gadgets they've been coming out with over the past several years are just as fabulous. Among the new products this year are the Leafy Greens Mezzaluna that speeds the prep and chopping of leafy greens for salads or the skillet. I especially like the ergonomic wide, soft-grip handle. Other items to keep an eye on are Chile Pepper- and Grapes-Shaped Cutting Boards, Citrus Coasters, nonslip Contour Grippboard, Spoon & Strain Salad Tongs, Collapsible KlipScoop, 4-inch Santoku Citrus Knives and the silicone Cube Ice Tray that can also be used for slushy cocktails and frozen desserts. They even have products for pets.
Toockies, used with permission.
Here is another product you can feel good about purchasing -- Toockies dye-and-chemical-free hand-knit 100% organic cotton or jute multipurpose cloths for homes, cars, and bodies. They have ribbing that makes it possible to pick-up small crumbs, dust, and other debris. Toockies cloths are soft enough to wipe your baby and tough enough to scrub your dishes without scratching. They can be machine washed and last for years. Best of all, the women of Nanabpur, India, who create these knitted cloths directly benefit both financially and emotionally (their daughters no longer have to be sold into slavery and prostitution for the family to survive).
SiliconeZone, used with permission.
SiliconeZone has partnered with the Hello Kitty brand to bring you whimsical baking utensils for a girl of any age. Who doesn't love Hello Kitty? This line feaures a full range of baking tools in the signature pink color. Joining already established products are Spatula, Dessert Mold for cupcakes or puddings, Oven Mitt made of 100% silicone with non-slip ridges and heat dissipation to keep hands safe, Muffin Mold, Tea Cup Lid, Cookie Set, and Angel Cake Mold. Don't miss the My Animals collection -- the molds for cakes and chocolate are adorable!