Perhaps due to the popularity of television cooking shows, the trend in kitchen appliances seems to be toward gourmet machines and multi-purpose offerings. Kitchens are trending to black, white and stainless, with center islands featuring multiple sinks allowing several people to be involved in the preparation of foods. What is new in the appliances found in the newest kitchens?
The induction cooktop is the newest trend in ranges. These stoves use an electromagnetic field to warm the pots and pans, but not the cooking surface itself. In fact, the surface is touchable in a few seconds after turning off the heat and removing the pan. Induction cooking is twice as efficient as natural gas or electric ranges and easier to clean.
Another innovation in kitchen design is drawer appliances. Drawer dishwashers are designed to fit into regular cabinetry and so interface seamlessly with the kitchen décor. The newest dishwashers also come with more specialized compartments and are virtually noise-free. Drawer microwaves are trending as well. These appliances slide out electronically and feature warming drawers.
The newest refrigerators feature more doors for specific storage and separate temperature controls. Ice makers and snack items are kept front-and-center too. The oven-refrigerator is an innovation that allows owners to program the appliance to keep foods cold until a set time when they convert to an oven to cook them. Another innovation in refrigerators is the computerized unit that features a screen and Internet-connectivity, allowing users to surf the Internet, check email and stream programs and music.
Steam-assist ovens are new too. These use steam, along with convection cooking, to help food cook more efficiently. They are fully computerized and sense the amount of steam the food needs to cook perfectly.
Again, due to the popular cooking shows, appliances are becoming more functional. One of the hottest appliances is the blender; the best-selling are high end units. People are experimenting more with food preparation and demand blenders that can almost replace a food processor. In addition, with the popularity of health drinks and smoothies, consumers are looking for units that have personal smoothie cups which have caps and are portable.
The single-cup coffee makers continue to be popular, but the most sought-after ones are versatile and prepare several kinds of beverages from cappuccinos to lattes and cold froths. High end brands with self-cleaning features and touch screens can cost $2500, but there are plenty of good brands out there for around $100.
An innovation in sink design, while perhaps not a real appliance, makes food preparation easier. It is the swivel faucet. These rotate 360 degrees and the pull-out spray device reaches up to 24 inches.
Contact grills are trending as well. These units contain dual cooking surfaces. Food is placed on the prepared bottom surface and the top grill is lowered onto it. The appliance gives a grilled flavor and appearance to meats and sandwiches while removing most of the fat from the food.
The kitchen has become a social gathering place and cooking almost a recreational activity. As more people begin to experiment with food preparation, the demand for better-performing appliances will continue. In addition, consumers seem to want multi-function units and those that fit in drawers and off countertops, allowing more work space and a sleeker look.