Most modern kitchens have a similar collection of machines that can be classified as large appliances; these include a hob, a range, an oven, a refrigerator, and a dishwasher. There is a much greater range of diversity when it comes to the category of small appliances, however. Items that are considered an absolute necessity for some families may not be useful at all to others.
What is a Small Appliance?
Small appliances are generally defined as those kitchen machines that are designed to sit on a worktop. Unlike large appliances, they can be quickly moved from one location in the kitchen to another and can even be stowed away in a cabinet at times if more worktop space is desired. Most small appliances, however, tend to acquire the status of semi-permanent fixtures, remaining in the same location for years and becoming a dependable part of the family’s kitchen routine.
Small Appliance Shopping Considerations
Because small appliances are often visible, they are like large appliances in one major way: they can add to or detract from the overall decor and ambiance of the kitchen environment. This means that an important shopping consideration for small appliances for most consumers is the overall appearance of the item. Some families like to purchase all of their small appliances in a certain colour range, such as white or chrome. Others, of course, do not mind a more eclectic, Bohemian look, and purchase small appliances with more of an eye toward features and functionality.
Types of Small Appliances
The category of small appliances is a large and diverse one, in part because many highly specialised machines are available for the home kitchen. Some of these items will appeal to a very small segment of the buying public. For example, most people find it so easy to open a can with a standard manual tool that they would never consider allocating worktop space to an electric model. Similarly, electric pasta makers, meat slicers, and automated yoghurt makers will probably appeal mainly to a niche market. Other types of small appliance, on the other hand, are almost ubiquitous. Most families find they cannot do without a microwave, an electric hand mixer or food mixer, a food processor or blender, and a toaster. Also extremely common are kettles, waffle irons, bread makers, and deep-fat fryers. The small appliances that a family truly needs depend on the personalities and culinary preferences of the individuals involved.
A microwave oven is able to heat foods in much less time than is needed in a conventional oven. This makes them ideal for operations such as defrosting food, heating liquids, and reheating leftovers. Microwave ovens work by bombarding food items with microwaves. This causes the water molecules in the food to heat up. This is a fundamentally different cooking process from other methods that apply heat to the outside of the food. In a microwave, the interior of a food item is being actively cooked along with the outside. Microwaves are noted for their ability to retain moisture in food, even after multiple reheating operations. Cooking with one does require some adjustments, however, since meats and baked goods will not brown as well as they do in a conventional oven or under a grill
Preparing cake mixtures by hand can be a tedious, strenuous task. Electric mixers simplify the process greatly, making it possible to cream a pound of butter into some sugar in only a minute or two.
Tabletop Food Mixers
Heavy-duty cooking tasks require a tabletop food mixer. These appliances stand on their own and come complete with a mixing bowl. Tabletop mixers are characterised by much stronger motors than can be found in handheld mixers. This means not only that they can successfully tackle heavier jobs such as preparing bread dough, but also that the mixer can run for much longer with no danger of the motor overheating. Some tabletop mixers double as a range of additional appliances. Attachments to these mixers allow the same powerful motor to operate machines such as meat grinders, citrus juicers, and pasta makers.
Cooks that only use a mixer for light tasks may find a handheld mixer more convenient. Unlike food mixers that often have only a single, sturdy beater, handheld mixers usually have a pair of lightweight beaters. In some models, these can be swapped for other attachments, such as thinner beaters that are more effective at beating air into egg whites. Handheld mixers tend to be small even by small appliance standards. As such, they are usually tucked away in a drawer or cabinet when not in use, but can be set up quickly when needed. Some models of hand food mixer, however, feature a stand to support the appliance; this type may be left out when not in use. The main disadvantage of a handheld mixer is a lack of real power. They can be ideal when whipping cream for fancy desserts, but they are not usually strong enough to beat it all the way to the butter stage. This is a task, however, at which tabletop food mixers excel.
Food Processors and Blenders
These two kinds of small appliance are somewhat similar; both feature a cylindrical bowl or jug that has a spinning blade at the bottom. In actual practice, a food processor tends to be far more versatile. While blenders can only blend and puree largely liquid ingredients, a food processor can be used to efficiently chop and mince meat and vegetables as well as blend liquids. Food processors often feature top-mounted attachments that allow the unit to grate as well as slice; even julienne cuts are possible. Blenders actually come in two formats: tabletop and handheld. Tabletop blenders are more powerful, but handheld blenders offer the convenience of blending directly inside a pot during the cooking process. This can cut down on the number of dishes that confront a cook once meal preparations have been completed.
Toasters are among the most traditional of small appliances. Without one, producing toast that is just right can be a tricky business that often results in blackened slices under the grill. Electric toasters operate by producing radiant heat and have slots that keep the bread close to, but not touching, the heating elements. Simple toasters allow users to select light, medium, or dark settings, each one of which causes a timer to run for slightly longer before the bread pops up and away from the radiant heating elements. Some toasters can accommodate up to six slices at once; bargain models may be able to handle only one or two slices. Fancy toasters may have a setting for bagels. This allows the sliced surface but not the outside to receive heat.
Electric waffle irons greatly simplify the process of making homemade waffles. Models intended for home use generally feature a non-stick coating and come with automated thermostats that produce the ideal heat level for preparing waffles. There are two main varieties of waffle irons. Some produce a waffle with "traditional" dimensions, which means that the waffle emerges as a relatively thin wafer with shallow indentations. "Belgian" waffle makers, in contrast, produce thick waffles with deep pockets for holding syrup, jam, whipped cream, or other toppings. Most waffle makers produce either a round or square-shaped waffle that is typically subdivided into four equal portions. Other shapes do exist, however; it is possible to purchase waffle makers that create valentine-shaped treats or even ones shaped like circus animals.
Find Small Appliances on eBay
Small appliances have their own section on the online shopping site eBay. To look for small kitchen appliances, begin at Home & Garden and select the option for Furniture & Living. After navigating to Cookware, Dining, & Bar, select the option for Small Appliances. A list of various electric kitchen helpers will appear in the left hand pane. These represent the major types of small appliances that are available on eBay. The list is quite lengthy, but is presented in alphabetical order for ease of use. Some rather eclectic small appliances such as smoothie makers and mini-ovens are included on the list. The Small Appliances category on eBay is a good place to start for shoppers who would like see a large range of choices for equipping their kitchens since they may find a number of kitchen helpers they have never seen in person.
Every modern kitchen needs at least a modest assortment of small electric appliances. These labour-saving devices simplify cooking tasks by efficiently performing a limited range of functions. Most people who use small appliances instead of doing work entirely by hand quickly come to rely on them. Because families differ in their needs, very few will have identical sets of small appliances. The huge diversity of appliances available can be examined in detail on eBay, where listings are organised into clear categories.