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8 Feb 2022

Ten surprising things we learned testing kitchen utensils

Can you crush garlic with the skin on? And what way should you use a tin opener? Find out what our experts uncovered about peelers, mashers and graters

We've been busy testing more than 80 kitchen drawer essentials including garlic presses, tin openers, kitchen scissors, potato mashers and cheese graters.

We assessed all of these kitchen utensils and more on how well they did their core job, their build quality, and how easy they were to use and clean.

We even checked how well you'd get on with them if you have restricted hand movement.

Here's some of the most interesting things we learned while testing these products.


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1) Garlic presses

Garlic press skin on

Peeling the skin off garlic cloves is fiddly and can take time, especially if you have a lot to do. But with the right type of garlic press you don't have to ever go through that laborious step again.

We found the best garlic pressescould crush garlic with the skin still on, leaving you with a perfect puree of garlic to add to your dish and an easy to peel away residue.

2) Removing garlic skins

Getting garlic skins off

If you prefer to take the skin off your cloves before pressing them, we found two effective methods we'd recommend.

Either soak the cloves in warm water for five minutes, or put them in an empty jar and shake vigorously for 30 seconds with the lid on. Both methods will help you to remove the outer layer of skin quickly and easily.


Need the right tool to mince garlic? We've rounded up the best chef's knives


3) Multifunctional kitchen scissors

Kitchen scissors

You might assume kitchen scissors are only suitable for basic tasks, for example opening food packets or cutting greaseproof paper.

But during our tests we found that some kitchen scissors have extra features which means they can also be used as herb strippers, bottle openers, stuck jar openers, fish descalers and even screwdrivers.

If you're in need of a new pair go to our best kitchen scissors to see which excelled in all of our tests, including spatchcocking a chicken.

It might also be worth taking a closer look at any kitchen scissors you own to see if there's any bonus features you might have missed.

4) Handheld electric tin openers

Handheld electric tin opener

When testing tin openers, we wore a pair of Cambridge Gloves to find out which are particularly easy to use.

If your hands are lacking in strength and dexterity we'd recommend going for an electric tin opener, rather than a manual one.

We found a great compact Best Buy electric can opener that can easily fit in a drawer, and it's incredibly easy to use if you have restricted hand mobility.

Take a look at our best tin openers to compare reviews of the 21 manual and electric openers we tested.

5) How to open a tin

Tin openers

Do you open a can by placing the cutting wheel inside the lip of the tin so it cuts around the inner circle, or do you prefer attaching it to the underside of the lip so that it slices off the entire lid?

We wanted to get to the bottom of this debate so we experimented with 11 manual tin openers and a number of standard soup tins to see which way is best.

All of the tin openers worked both ways, but some are better at one method than another so it's worth having a little experiment with your own tin opener.


Heat your tinned soup in the best saucepans in our tests.


6) Vegetable and potato peelers

Vegetable and potato peelers

We tested a mixture of ten swivel and Y-shaped peelers to see which peeler type is easiest to use.

Although it depends on your experience and what you are used to, we generally found Y-shaped peelers are much easier to control, especially when tackling butternut squash or potatoes.

Swivel peelers, also known as straight peelers, are ideal for straight veg like carrots and parsnips, but they're less easy to use with rounder fruit and veg.

Take a look at our vegetable and potato peeler reviews to see our top recommendation, as well as a helpful video that shows you how to hone a dull veggie peeler blade.

7) Potato mashers

Mashed potato

We compared seven popular potato mashers to see which is the easiest and quickest to use, using each for one minute with boiled potatoes and cru00e8me fraiche to see which produced the smoothest mash.

Interestingly, we found the best potato mashers didn't have uniform holes, but included a mix of different-sized holes, which meant the potato chunks were rapidly broken up and turned into creamy mash.

8) Electric potato mashers

Electric potato mashers

As well as testing manual potato mashers, we tried out an electric potato masher to see if it's a better way to make mash.

An electric masher sounds like a good option if you have restricted hand movement and they enable you to make very quick work of your mashing.

But beware, we found if you use it for too long then you can end up with elasticised potatoes, and by too long, we mean more than 40 seconds.

We also felt the electric blender we tested was incredibly similar to a stick blender, but slightly more expensive. So if you already have a stick blender you can use that to mash your potatoes instead.


Find out which are the best hand blenders according to our experts.


9) Cheese graters

Cheese graters

When we looked for the best cheese grater we compared nine cheese graters and found that while rotary graters look impressive, they took quite a bit more effort to operate and we found box graters much easier to use.

If you do go for a box grater, make sure it has rubber feet or a non-slip base to help it stay secure on your kitchen countertop while you use it.

10) Pizza cutters

Pizza cutters

Pizza cutters come in all shapes and sizes. There's the classic spinning disk and you can also get cutters that look like a miniature bicycle or a giant pair of scissors.

A few of the pizza cutters we tested came with a blade sheath or glove, which is a great way to protect the pizza cutter while it's in your kitchen drawer, preventing it from dulling if it knocks against other tools.

Take a look at the best pizza cutters to see which ones we recommend.


If you fancy making your own pizza check out the best pizza ovens and the five essential tools you need for cooking with a pizza oven.