Showing posts with label kitchen tools. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kitchen tools. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

My 10 Best Product Reviews of 2022 Revisited

Last year I published 18 in-depth, personal product reviews here on Review This Reviews. As I was looking back at them recently, I decided to revisit and share my 10 favorite products that I reviewed in 2022.

My 10 Best Product Reviews of 2022 Revisited
Check out the best products I reviewed in 2022 to find some great buys in 2023!

My Top 10 Product Reviews From 2022

I hope the reviews I've chosen to highlight in this "best of 2022" collection will help you find some new favorites of your own, as well as some terrific gift ideas for others to enjoy.

My Favorite Fashion Product Review

VIKIDEER Microfleece Lined, Ultra Soft Lambskin Leather Touchscreen Gloves

Winter here in New England is long and extremely cold. These VIKIDEER microfleece-lined, ultra soft lambskin leather touchscreen gloves keep my always-chilly hands and arms warm and cozy, even when I need to pull out my mobile phone, Kindle or other touchscreen device.

VIKIDEER long, warm, lined, lambskin leather touchscreen  gloves
VIKIDEER Elegant Winter Black Long Leather Full Touchscreen Gloves for Women

They're also long enough to prevent any gap below the hem of my coat sleeves when I bend or raise my arms, so they stay nice and toasty even in the chilliest weather. Any woman who lives in a cold climate would love to receive these as a gift!

Check out my in-depth review of these Long, Lined Leather Gloves - A Luxurious, Affordable Gift She'll Love.

My Best Gift Review for Music, Audiobook and Podcast Lovers

SHOKZ OpenRun Pro Bone Conduction Bluetooth Headphones

My husband and I love listening to audiobooks or music while we are doing chores, relaxing, traveling, etc. We both love our SHOKZ bone conduction Bluetooth headphones and wear them all the time.

Man wearing SHOKZ OpenRun Pro bone conduction Bluetooth headphones
SHOKZ OpenRun Pro Open-Ear Bluetooth Bone Conduction Sport Headphones

He first introduced me to bone-conduction Bluetooth headphones several years ago, and I've never looked back! Bone-conduction headphones use a technology that transmits sound vibrations along your cheekbones instead of through the air into your ears. It's great for someone like me, who has difficulty with ear buds, and for my husband, who has itchy ears and doesn't like anything in or against them. 

SHOKZ is the undisputed leader in bone conduction headphones. They make a variety of styles, but our favorites by far are the OpenRun and OpenRun Pro, which are both ultra lightweight. In fact, I often tease my husband about his SHOKZ bone conduction headphones being permanently grafted onto his head, since they are so comfortable that he forgets he's wearing them and almost never takes them off during the day, even when he's not listening to anything through them.

Learn more about why we're such hugs fans in The Best Bone-Conduction Bluetooth Headphones Review: Shokz OpenRun Pro.

My Best Gift Review Pick for Recipients Who Are Hard to Buy For

DuraTech Tool Roll Organizer With 21 Pockets

My husband enjoys working on cars, scale models, and model trains. As a result, he has several collections of prized hand tools for both automotive and hobby use. Keeping not only his wrenches and sockets but also his fine precision tools organized and well protected is a high priority for him. 

DuraTech tool storage organizer - rolled up and latched

After considerable product research, I chose this attractive, durable, well-designed and well-made DuraTech tool roll organizer as a Christmas gift for him and he absolutely loves it. 

Here's a view of the interior, filled with his precision hand tools, including fine nippers, needle nose pliers, precision tweezers and X-ACTO knives:

DuraTech tool roll organizer, unrolled to show tools stored inside
DURATECH Tool Roll Organizer, 21 Pockets Tool Bag Roll

I'm planning to buy one for myself for my most-often-used jewelry making and crafting tools.

Find out more about why this makes such a terrific gift for anyone who relies on hand tools for hobbies, models, automotive repairs, etc. in my review of The Best Tool Roll Organizer To Store & Protect Your Tools.

My Best Health Product Review

Dnsly Ultrasonic Toothbrush Set With Travel Case and Extra Brush Heads

I've been using top name brand ultrasonic toothbrushes with fancy features from Oral-B and Philips Sonicare for most of my life. A few months ago, however, I switched to this much more affordable and equally effective Dnsly ultrasonic toothbrush set with a choice of five brushing modes (White, Clean, Sensitive, Polish and Massage). It also has ultra soft bristles that protect my gums from erosion as well as compact brush heads and an interdental brush that make it easier to get into hard-to-reach spots. 

Dnsly electric toothbrush with travel case
Dnsly Sonic Electric Toothbrush with 5 Modes, 2-Minute Smart Timer, 8 Brush Heads, 1 Travel Case

The set I purchased includes a hard, fitted travel case, a clear plastic brush head cover (so you can toss it in your purse or briefcase without carrying the travel case) and seven brush heads, in addition to the tiny, pointed interdental brush. You can brush twice a day for 30 days on a single 4-hour charge, which makes it perfect for travel! 

Check out this affordable, high quality set in my product review of The Best Dentist Approved, Inexpensive, 5-Mode Electric Toothbrush.

My Top 3 Kitchen Product Reviews

I enjoy cooking and baking, but not washing dishes. Three of my favorite product purchases for 2022 were kitchen items that have made our time spent prepping, making good food and cleaning up more efficient and enjoyable.

Adjustable Stainless Steel 3-Tier Over Sink Dish Drying Rack

The first was this fabulous three-tier 304 stainless steel dish drying rack that has gotten all our nonstick cookware, bakeware, oversized items (like the Vitamix blender jar and the large cake storage box in the photo) and other hand washable items off our countertops. (This large-capacity drying rack also comes in a smaller, two-tier version.)

Boosiny stainless steel, 3-tier over sink dish drying rack
BOOSINY Adjustable 3-Tier Over Sink Dish Drying Rack, 304 Stainless Steel

We love the adjustable-height shelves and moveable accessories, such as the hanging hooks, utensil holder, cup hooks, soap/sponge tray and cutting board holder, that we can configure to our needs and preferences. With the limited counter space in our old galley kitchen, this over-the-sink dish drying rack has been a godsend! And the convenience of being able to simply hang items to drip dry after hand washing them means we save electricity by running our dishwasher less often.

Read my full review of The Best Large, Sturdy, Adjustable, Over-the-Sink Dish Drying Rack to learn more about why it is one of my favorite product purchases of the past year.

Mueller Ultra-Stick 500 Watt 9-Speed Immersion Blender, Electric Whisk and Frother

My second favorite kitchen purchase from 2022 is this awesome Müeller Ultra-Stickmulti-purpose hand blender with a heavy-duty 500-watt copper motor and brushed stainless steel body. The comfortable handle with an ergonomic, non-slip grip makes this hand blender a pleasure to use, and the powerful motor offers 9 speeds and a Turbo Mode for a burst of extra power when needed.

Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender model MU-HB-02
Mueller Ultra-Stick 500 Watt 9-Speed Immersion Multi-Purpose Hand Blender

The three attachments make this three, high-quality, small kitchen appliances in one: an immersion blender, an electric whisk and a milk frother. We use ours all the time for blending soups, making fresh whipped cream and frothing milk for our coffee (or making frothy bulletproof coffee or silky-smooth hot cocoa).

Read my detailed review of The Best Powerful, Lightweight Stick Blender With Versatile Attachments.

Astercook 15-piece German Stainless Steel Kitchen and Steak Knives Set With Wooden Storage Block

My third kitchen product purchase from last year that my husband and I have really been enjoying is our Astercook kitchen and steak knives set.

Astercook 15-piece stainless steel kitchen and steak knives set in a wood storage block
Asktercook 15-piece German high-carbon stainless steel kitchen & steak knives set with storage block

This 15-piece set includes an acacia wood knife block fitted with a full set of the most useful kitchen knives, including an 8" chef knife, 8" slicing knife, 7" santoku knife, 8" serrated bread knife, 5" utility knife and a 3.5" paring knife; a set of six 4.5" serrated steak knives; a pair of kitchen shears with a handy built-in bottle opener; and a sturdy sharpening steel for honing the sharp, German stainless steel blades to keep them "in good nick." 

My husband and I have been extremely pleased with the quality of these knives, especially considering the extremely low price (less than $45 as of this post's publication date)!

Learn more about this excellent, inexpensive knife set that would be a great addition to any kitchen, and a welcome gift for anyone outfitting their first kitchen, in my in-depth review of The Best Affordable, Super Sharp Kitchen and Steak Knives Set.

My Favorite Low Carb and Keto Food Reviews

Scotty's Everyday Keto Pizza Crust Mix With 0 Net Carbs Per Slice

My husband and I both love high-carbohydrate foods like breads, rolls, cookies, cakes and pizza. We have chosen to cut back substantially on both carbs and highly processed foods because of the health benefits we have both noticed when we eat a very low carb, largely whole food diet. Even though my husband is quite slim and has to make sure he eats enough calories to avoid losing weight, we both have experienced significant improvements in mental clarity and focus, reduction in joint pain and inflammation, and other health benefits by eating this way. However, neither of us is willing to give up our favorite foods, so I invest time and effort researching, trying out and evaluating healthy, low carb alternatives for foods like pizza crusts and burger buns.

I have tried several low carb pizza crust mix products and recipes, and one of my favorites so far is Scotty's Everyday Keto Pizza Crust Mix. 

Pizza made with Scotty's Everyday Keto Pizza Crust Mix

One of the reasons is convenience, since this mix calls for only olive oil and water, both of which we always have on hand. Others include speed (just mix, roll and bake), fairly clean, healthy ingredients), high in dietary fiber, low in calories and 0 net carbs per slice, and a surprisingly good taste and texture considering the nutritional profile.

This mix makes a pizza crust that, unlike some low carb options, is crisp on the outside, slightly chewy on the inside, and sturdy enough to pick up and eat with your hands. We love being able to eat pizza for dinner once a week again and have fun changing up the toppings to keep things interesting.

Check out my full review of The Best Keto Pizza Crust Mix With 0 Net Carbs including some of our favorite low carb, keto friendly pizza toppings.

KetoBakes Best EVER Sandwich Buns Keto Bake Mix

My husband makes the best burgers and, for many years, we have had a tradition of him making his special Friday night burgers (or, as we like to call them, Friday night "burglars") to celebrate the end of the work week and kick off the weekend. Although some people enjoy using lettuce as a burger wrap, we much prefer ours on a nice, soft, lightly toasted bun. And, although we love Natural Ovens Bakery Keto-Friendly Buns and often keep a few bags in our freezer, they contain a few ingredients that aren't strictly "clean keto" and are not gluten-free.

So, unless I'm pressed for time, I prefer baking fresh burger buns using KetoBakes Best EVER Sandwich Buns Keto Bake Mix, which lives up to its name as far as keto-friendly buns are concerned.

KetoBakes Best Ever Sandwich Bun Mix
KetoBakes Best EVER Sandwich Buns Keto Bake Mix

This mix has clean ingredients, the same ones I would use if I were baking keto buns from scratch, and makes soft, pillowy, yummy buns that are perfect for burgers or sandwiches. They also freeze beautifully, which I do in my favorite Stasher reusable silicone 1/2 gallon food storage bags, which open and seal incredibly quickly and easily (I love them!). 

Get the 411 on this excellent baking mix in my product review of The Best Low Carb Keto Sandwich and Burger Buns Mix.

ChocZero Regular and Dark Cocoa Hazelnut Keto Spreads and Livlo Zello Keto-Friendly Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

These low-carb chocolate hazelnut spreads with no added sugars offer three excellent, healthy (and keto-friendly) alternatives for people who love Nutella.

ChocZero and Livlo ZELLO keto chocolate hazelnut spreads
ChocZero Dark Cocoa Hazelnut Keto Spread, Livlo Zello Keto-Friendly Chocolate Hazelnut Spread and ChocZero Cocoa Hazelnut Keto Spread

I've provided a detailed side-by-side comparison of the flavor, size, price, nutrition facts, ingredients, dietary restriction / special diets information and other considerations in my review Comparing the Best Keto-Friendly Chocolate Hazelnut Spreads - No Added Sugars.


I hope this recap of my 10 favorite products that I reviewed in 2022 helps you find some gift ideas or new favorites of your own for the coming year.

Wishing all our Review This Reviews readers and my fellow contributors a healthy, happy, peaceful and prosperous 2023!


My 10 Best Product Reviews of 2022 Revisited 

by Margaret Schindel


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Wednesday, June 8, 2022

The Best Powerful, Lightweight Stick Blender With Versatile Attachments

A stick blender, also called an immersion blender, is great for puréeing soups and sauces. Using a lightweight stick blender with a whisk attachment can be a lot more comfortable to use than a traditional hand mixer for mixing batters or whipping heavy cream. Several months ago, after the plastic housing and whip attachment on my 1980s-era Braun MR72 MultiPractic deluxe hand held blender with variable speed control eventually cracked, I did a lot of online research before choosing a new stick blender.

Ultimately, I purchased a Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender (model MU-HB-02) with three versatile attachments: an immersion blender, a wire whisk and frother. Today I'll share my review of this excellent, powerful, lightweight stick blender.

Müeller Ultra-Stick 3-in-1 Hand Blender
The Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender (model MU-HB-02) is one of my most used kitchen tools. It is also one of the best kitchen gifts and can replace several small appliances!

The Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender Is Surprisingly Powerful

Having used the Braun MR72 MultiPractic stick blender and whisk attachment for several decades gave me a much better idea of which features were important to me when choosing my next model of one of these small appliances. After narrowing down my top contenders for a new immersion blender, the powerful 500W motor on the Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender (model MU-HB-02) weighed heavily in its favor, since the 150W motor on my old Braun made it underpowered for my needs.

When using any immersion blender, it's important to hold the blades above the bottom of the pot, pan or other container and control the tool as the suction created by the blade and its housing try to force the shaft downward. The first time I used the blending shaft attachment on my new Müeller hand blender, I could feel how much more power it has compared to my old Braun model!

Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender speed control dial, power button and turbo button
The slim, contoured, ergonomic shape is easy for even a small hand like mine to hold comfortably. The speed control knob turns continuously, and the power and turbo buttons require just a thumb press.

Variable Speed Control Knob, One-Touch On/Off Button and Turbo Button Let You Control That Power Easily

My old model had a variable-speed control dial, but it had only 6 speeds. That, in combination with the 150W motor, provided a very limited range of speeds. By contrast, the Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender (model MU-HB-02) offers a choice of 9 speeds, thanks to multiple power and speed controls that give you more control over its powerful 500W motor.

The top of the motor body housing is the speed control knob. On the side near the top are two stacked buttons: The power button and the turbo button.

Speed Control Knob: After inserting the desired attachment—immersion blender, whisk or frother—into the motor body housing, plug the hand blender into the wall outlet. Then, the speed control dial clockwise to increase the speed or counter-clockwise to decrease the speed.

Power Button: Press your thumb on the one-touch on/off power button to turn on the motor and continue to depress it as you blend, whisk or froth your food or beverage. Release the button to turn off the hand blender. The company advises not to hold the Power button down for longer than 50 seconds at a time. However, I have not found that to be a limitation, since the 500W motor provides enough power to complete most tasks I have tried in less than 50 seconds!

Turbo Button: The Turbo button lets you kick things up a gear when you need to, whether you are puréeing cooked vegetables or whipping egg whites or heavy cream. Just slide your thumb down from the Power button to the Turbo button (directly underneath it) and press it for a quick burst of increased power.

Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender (model MU-HB-02) with attachments and instruction manual
The Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender (model MU-HB-02) with the immersion blending shaft attached, along with the gear box, whisk and frother attachments and simple instruction manual

Immersion Blending Shaft, Whisk and Frother Attachments Are All Extremely Useful

Blending Shaft: Attach this to the motor to use the Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender as an immersion blender. Its extremely sharp, stainless steel S-shaped blade lets you blend shakes or smoothies and purée soups, sauces or baby food.

Whisk Attachment: I use this lightweight stick blender with the whisk attachment several nights a week to make fresh whipped cream to serve with berries, ice cream, or another dessert. The difference in taste between store-bought whipped cream in a pressurized can and freshly whipped, lightly sweetened heavy cream with a splash of vanilla is significant. And with my new Müeller stick blender and wire whisk attachment, I can whip up a small batch of whipped cream, just enough for my husband and me, in just seconds!

I just pour a few tablespoons of heavy whipping cream into a 2-cup Pyrex glass liquid measuring cup, add my sweetener of choice and some pure vanilla extract, then insert my hand blender with the whisk attachment and move the whisk in circles, holding it slightly above the bottom of the measuring cup. I start on the slowest speed for 5 or 10 seconds to avoid splattering, then dial the speed up and finish whipping the cream to the desired consistency. After spooning the topping over our dessert, I just pull out the which attachment and wash it and the measuring cup. Easy peasy!

The powerful motor of this hand blender also means I can use it to beat egg whites or mix cake, cupcake or other thin to medium batters, rather than pulling out my large, heavy KitchenAid stand mixer (which I now reserve for mixing thicker, heavier batters and doughs).

Frother Attachment: My husband and I drink Bulletproof coffee (hot coffee whipped with clarified butter and MCT oil to a creamy, foam-topped consistency) in the morning. It has several valuable benefits, as I've discussed in my product review of The Best Affordable Programmable Large- and Small-Batch Coffee Maker. We had already purchased a cordless milk frother for this purpose, but it devours batteries and is underpowered, which is even more noticeable as the two AA batteries run down.

The frother attachment to our new Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender is a significant improvement in terms of power (110V vs. 3V), and we no longer are chewing through AA batteries.

Close-up of extremely sharp stainless steel blending shaft blade
The stainless steel blending shaft has an extremely sharp blade. Fortunately, it's also dishwasher safe!

Easy to Assemble and Disassemble

The plastic whip attachment for my old Braun hand blender was a pain in the neck to attach and detach from the motor housing. Fortunately, assembling and disassembling my new Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender (model MU-HB-02) with different attachments is a breeze!

Make sure the motor body is unplugged before attaching or detaching anything to or from it.

To attach the immersion blending shaft, insert it into the motor body and turn it counterclockwise so it snaps into the housing (you will hear a click).

To connect the whisk attachment or milk frother, first insert the shaft of the attachment into the gearbox. Then, insert the gearbox into the motor body and turn it counterclockwise so it snaps into the housing (you will hear a click).

To remove the immersion blending shaft, whisk or frother after using, simply reverse the process: Turn the blending shaft or gearbox clockwise and pull gently to detach it from the motor body housing, then gently pull out the whisk or frother attachment from the gearbox, if applicable.

Quick and Easy Clean-Up With Dishwasher-Safe Attachments

The motor body housing and gearbox should never be immersed in water, but can be cleaned easily just by wiping with a sponge or damp cloth.

The blending shaft, whisk and frother attachments can be hand washed in warm soapy water or put in the dishwasher for easy clean-up.

Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender assembled with blending shaft as an immersion blender
Connect the stainless steel blending shaft to the motor housing for a powerful immersion blender

Lightweight, Slim and Comfortable to Use

The Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender model MU-HB-02 weighs only approximately 1.9 pounds. It is lightweight, slim and has an ergonomic grip that is comfortable even for small hands like mine.

It is also 12.6 inches tall, so if I'm puréeing hot soup in a stockpot or Dutch oven, for example, my hand stays comfortably elevated above the heat.

Surprisingly Affordable and an Excellent Value

I could have spent more money on an immersion blender with whisk and other attachments that had features this one lacks, such as a speed dial that be operated with the dominant hand while the power is on. However, the quality/price/performance ratio on this Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender is quite impressive and it does everything I need it to at an extremely affordable price—less than $35 at the time of publication.

Since this stick blender with the whisk attachment is made mostly of stainless steel (unlike many others), takes the place of frother and a hand mixer (and is much more comfortable to use), can stand in for a regular blender or food processor in many cases and does a better job than either of those for blending small amounts of ingredients, it's really a terrific value. The America's Test Kitchen expert testers also recommended this immersion blender on the Cook's Illustrated website.

Don’t Use the Immersion Blending Shaft in Nonstick Cookware

The only other feature I could wish for would be a removable pan guard for the immersion blending shaft's blade housing, like the one on the KitchenAid KHBV53BM Variable Speed Corded Hand Blender, that wouldn't scratch nonstick cookware. However, the pan guard appears to be plastic, and I wouldn't feel comfortable using a plastic attachment inside a hot pan or pot of food that's directly on the heat anyway. In addition, that KitchenAid model has only 180W of power, doesn't come with a whisk or frother attachment, and the removable immersion blending arm isn't dishwasher-safe.

If I need to purée a soup or sauce, it's easy enough to use a stainless steel pot or to transfer the contents of a nonstick pot to a stainless steel bowl for immersion blending and then return the puréed mixture to the pot. This minor inconvenience is well worth it to have all the advantages and versatility of the Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender, especially given its affordable price.

An Affordable and Versatile Small Kitchen Appliance Any Home Cook Would Love

Click image to order the
Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender
(model MU-HB-02) 
on Amazon

This is one of those kitchen tools that you don't realize you needed until you have one. In fact, since I don't do a lot of immersion blending, when my old Braun stick blender with plastic parts cracked, I thought about not replacing it. But I really loved being able to whip up a small batch of fresh whipped cream or whip just one or two egg whites without having to drag out my heavy KitchenAid stand mixer, which is what prompted me to take a look at getting another hand blender with a whisk attachment. Finding a lightweight, stainless steel model with a much more powerful motor at an affordable price made the decision very easy.

The fact that this stick blender also has a milk frother attachment was a nice bonus that many gift recipients would appreciate, since lattes, cappucinos and other frothy drinks have become so popular. And, of course, anyone who drinks Bulletproof coffee would definitely love such a powerful frother.

I find myself using this versatile stick blender nearly every day, sometimes multiple times a day, for frothing coffee, making fresh whipped cream, or puréeing a sauce or gravy to get the lumps out quickly and easily. I'll bet someone you know would get a lot of use out of this Müeller Multi-Purpose Ultra-Stick Hand Blender, too.


The Best Powerful, Lightweight Stick Blender With Versatile Attachments by Margaret Schindel


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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

How to Choose the Best Fine Mesh Kitchen Strainers

Fine mesh strainers are used for many different types of cooking, baking and food preparation tasks, from sifting powdered dry ingredients for baking or garnishing baked goods to straining sauces and custards, rinsing uncooked rice, quinoa or beans, and draining pots of cooked pasta. 

When the sieves I inherited from my mom that had served us both for decades eventually needed to be replaced, shopping for replacements turned out to be more challenging than I could have anticipated. 

In this review, I'll share my advice on how to choose the best fine mesh kitchen strainers for your needs as well as my product reviews for the fine mesh sieves I purchased nearly five years ago and recommend highly.

How to Pick the Best Fine Mesh Strainers for Your Needs: 3 Pro Shopping Tips
Learn how to be a savvy consumer when shopping for fine mesh kitchen strainers.

3 Pro Shopping Tips for Choosing the Best Fine Mesh Kitchen Strainers for Your Needs.


Think About How You Will Be Using Them.

When shopping for fine mesh strainers, the best choice will depend on what you want to use them for. The ideal diameter, depth, handle, weight balance, durability, wire mesh size and stiffness will be very different for mesh sieves used primarily for sifting cocoa powder, flour or powdered sugar than for those used mainly for straining fresh raspberry seeds or draining a large quantity of just-cooked pasta. 

So, before you start researching or shopping for new fine mesh sieves, take a few minutes to think about the types of tasks you want, need and expect your new strainers to perform well.

Consider the Most Important Product Features and Characteristics for Your Specific Uses. 

Once you have made a list of the things you want to use your new strainer(s) for, it's time to educate yourself about the different types of materials, construction, mesh fineness, and other options available in models at different price points and think about which ones might be best suited to your needs, priorities and budget. 

For example, if you are shopping for a small strainer for steeping loose tea in a cup or travel mug, an inexpensive model made of a very finely woven nylon mesh material might do the best job of filtering out the tea leaves. On the other hand, if you also want to be able to sift or dust small amounts of cocoa powder or confectioners sugar, you might decide to go with a more expensive, stainless steel model that has a stiffer wire mesh and a slightly looser weave, the tradeoff being that it wouldn't be quite as effective at filtering out the small, powdery bits of tea leaf. 

Similarly, having a comfortable, contoured, riveted handle (and preferably two) may be a priority if you are looking for a large-capacity, heavy-duty strainer, but a thinner, flatter handle attached with spot welding might be fine if you only need a small or medium size strainer for lighter-duty tasks.

Stay Focused on Your Needs As You Compare Fine Mesh Strainers and Read Product Reviews.

Whether a review is positive or negative, consider the author's praise or complaints in the context of your own needs and priorities. Also keep an eye out for negative fine mesh strainer reviews based on inappropriate assumptions or unreasonable expectations. 

Reviews by reputable industry experts can be extremely valuable, but it's important to consider how well the reviewers' evaluation and rating criteria match for your own needs, preferences and intended uses for the product. 

I learned this firsthand at the beginning of 2017. A few weeks after I bought a Cuisinart set of small, medium and large strainers that I wanted just for the two smaller sizes, Cook's Illustrated published a fine mesh strainers equipment review (subscription required) that rated the Cuisinart set as "not recommended." Since I trust and respect the America's Test Kitchen staff's opinions, I was dismayed by the low rating for the set I had just bought. However, when I looked at the reviewers' product selection criteria and the performance tests they had devised, I saw that many of the features, specifications and use cases they had focused on (e.g., approximately 9" diameter, stiff, extremely fine wire mesh baskets, handles that were comfortable to hold over an extended period of time, long, wide hooks that fit easily over both medium and large pots and bowls) weren't relevant to the small and medium Cuisinart strainers or the types of tasks for which I had chosen that set. 

On the other hand, those criteria and tests were extremely relevant to my needs and wants for the much sturdier Kukpo 9-inch strainer I had purchased to complement the small and medium sized Cuisinart sieves. If that Cook's Illustrated equipment review had been published one month sooner, I might have had second thoughts about buying my $14 Kukpo, despite the $45 price tag of the only "highly recommended" model, the Rösle 7.9-inch Stainless Steel Round Handle Kitchen Strainer

So, keep your own needs in mind as you are reading fine mesh strainer reviews and looking at product features and specifications. Also, remember that no strainer can do every job equally well and be open to the possibility that investing in more than one might be your best bet, depending on how many things you want to use them for.  

Recommended Fine Mesh Kitchen Strainer Reviews 

Here are my personal product reviews for the best fine mesh kitchen strainers I purchased to replace the much older ones I had inherited. The ones I am recommending have been in frequent use in my kitchen for at least several years, show minimal signs of wear and continue to meet my quality and performance needs and expectations.

Kukpo Stainless Steel Double Fine Mesh Strainer Review

If you are looking for a large, versatile, affordable sieve that does a good job at a variety of kitchen tasks, the Kukpo Stainless Steel Fine Double Mesh Strainer, 9 Inch Diameter is an excellent choice.

This sturdy, inexpensive Kukpo 9-inch stainless steel fine double mesh strainer can handle most straining, sieving and sifting tasks well.

Key Features and Benefits:

  • Practical size. The basket rim is 9" across and the fine wire mesh basket itself is about 8" wide at the top and 3.25" deep, large enough to easily drain a pound of cooked pasta, but not so large that it's unwieldy.
  • A versatile workhorse. If you're looking for a single, good quality, inexpensive fine mesh food strainer that performs well for most uses, I highly recommend this 9-inch Kukpo model. It's great for straining stock, sauces, yogurt, custard, frying oil and coffee grounds; separating milk solids from melted butter for clarified butter or ghee; rinsing rice, beans, lentils and grains such as quinoa; straining seeds from fresh berry purée; and sifting flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa or powdered sugar.
  • Durable construction, including two riveted handles. Unlike many fine mesh strainers, this one has no gap between the wire mesh screen and the rim/frame where bits of food residue can get stuck and be hard to remove. It also has two handles that distribute the weight more evenly and are riveted to the rim rather than spot-welded, making it more comfortable and well balanced to hold when draining a large volume of heavy food, such as cooked pasta.
  • Two layers of fine wire mesh for better strength, stiffness and filtering ability. Doubling the mesh creates a stronger, sturdier basket that holds its shape better and resists denting, despite its size, even when mashing fresh strawberries, raspberries, or confectioners sugar firmly against the mesh to strain the seeds or break up hard lumps.
  • Dishwasher safe stainless steel. I generally prefer to wash my fine mesh sieves by hand, but it's nice to be able to run them through the dishwasher occasionally to sanitize them more thoroughly. This one has an all stainless steel construction that doesn't rust, not only in my own experience but also in those of many other customers, according to their product reviews. 
  • 100% money back guarantee. Although I couldn't find any details about the terms of this guarantee, quite a few Amazon customers have raved about the company's outstanding customer service in their reviews. 

Cuisinart Set of 3 Mesh Strainers

I've found that pairing this set of three Cuisinart stainless steel strainers with the larger, sturdier, 9-inch Kukpo double mesh strainer covers all the bases for any use I can think of.

This set of three Cuisinart mesh strainers is excellent for light-duty tasks like dusting desserts with cocoa or confectioners sugar, rinsing berries and juicing lemons.

Key Features and Benefits:

  • Three useful sizes. This set includes 3 1/8”, 5 ½”, and 7 7/8” diameter fine mesh sieves.
  • Great for less strenuous tasks. The two smaller sizes in this set are ideal for things like straining loose tea leaves, dusting powdered sugar or cocoa over desserts, washing a cup of fresh berries or string beans, or straining the seeds while juicing a lemon. The largest one is fine for sifting a couple of cups of dry baking ingredients and similar light-duty tasks, but the spot-welded handles and thinner wire mesh make it too delicate for heavier contents and more demanding applications that require the sturdier Kukpo strainer.
  • Surprisingly inexpensive. At the time of publication, this set of three cost less than $14 on Amazon. Even though I prefer the 9" Kukpo to the 7 7/8" strainer in the Cuisinart set, I consider that a very good value, even for just the small and medium sizes.
  • Dishwasher safe stainless steel. I haven't found a single speck of rust on any of mine after nearly five years of frequent use.
  • Limited lifetime warranty. Cuisinart offers a limited lifetime warranty for its products if you register your purchase with them. I haven't been able to find any information about what it covers for this strainer set. 

Bonus Tip: Use a Stiff, Thin-Bristled Brush to Dislodge Any Food Particles Stuck in the Fine Mesh

Whether you plan to wash your strainers by hand or in the dishwasher, I highly recommend inspecting the fine wire mesh carefully for any bits of food residue that might be stuck. It's best to wash and check the mesh as soon as possible after use, since any clogs will be much harder to dislodge if they are allowed to dry inside those tiny openings. If you need more time, just submerge the strainer in hot water and until you are able to clean and inspect it properly. 

I have found that small, dense brushes with thin, stiff bristles, like the two in the OXO Good Grips Deep Clean Brush Set, are the most effective tools for clearing stubborn food particles from the fine wire mesh. 


How to Choose the Best Fine Mesh Kitchen Strainers by Margaret Schindel


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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Open Jars Easily With Jar Heads Rubber Jar Opener Gripper Pads

I have always found opening jars with very tight lids to be a challenge, since I have fairly small hands and limited grip strength. Now that I'm over 65 and my hands are weaker, that task evolved from a challenge into a struggle, until I discovered Jar Heads rubber jar opener gripper pads. They make opening jars significantly easier for anyone, and are especially helpful for someone with small, weak, or arthritic hands. They're also thoughtful, practical gifts for seniors. 

Here is my product review of these terrific Jar Heads jar opener rubber grips, which have become kitchen essentials at our house.

Main image text: "Made in the USA Jar Heads non-slip textured rubber grip Jar Openers from 100% post-consumer recycled tires"

Finding the Best Jar Opener For People With Limited Grip Strength or Arthritis Can Be Hard

There are many types of jar opening tools and gadgets on the market. Many, if not most, claim to be good for seniors and people with weak hands or arthritis. Nearly all of them have mostly 5-star ratings and glowing reviews on Amazon. (It's really unfortunate that Amazon's customer ratings and reviews system seems to be easily "gamed," and isn't nearly as helpful in making purchasing decisions as it used to be.) So, despite having more experience than most with online product research and comparison shopping, I found that picking out a jar opener that had a high probability of living up to those claims was a bit like playing roulette. 

So, if you are looking for an extremely effective jar opener that not only would be a welcome addition to any kitchen, but could also be a blessing for someone with small or weak hands, arthritis, or limited grip strength, I hope to spare you considerable time and effort by summarizing the most popular types of jar openers available and sharing some of the products I purchased, or seriously considered, before I discovered the awesome Jar Heads rubber jar gripper pads that I have been using, and loving!

The Most Popular Types of Jar Openers and Rubber Jar Grips

Traditional Handheld Jar Openers

In my experience, most traditional jar openers and screw-top bottle openers are only moderately effective, and often quite frustrating. 

  • None of the ones without teeth that I've tried over the years, especially the strap wrench (AKA grip wrench or loop wrench) types, have worked well on very tightly sealed screw-top bottles or glass jars with metal lids.
  • I've found that, for the most part, jar openers with sharp, serrated teeth (like the older version of this OXO Good Grips Jar Opener I've owned for many years) can be more effective than the "toothless" models at breaking the vacuum seals on new, unopened glass food jars. Unfortunately, they often end up skidding around the rim of those stubborn, firmly stuck, tightly sealed metal lids, rather than biting into and gripping the metal securely as you twist the lid counterclockwise. Consequently, the teeth can score a deep, sharp-edged gash around the perimeter of the pugnacious jar lid, whether or not the jaws successfully break the seal and loosen the lid. Sometimes I have had to wrap the sides of those lids with flexible, nonwoven, self-adhesive bandage strips to protect our hands from the sharp, jagged-edged score lines around the rim when we subsequently open or close the jar.
  • All these types of handheld jar openers require not only grip strength in both hands (the one that holds the jar and the one that turns the lid), but also sufficient leverage to twist the jar and lid in opposite directions. 

Mounted, Under-Cabinet Jar Openers

Two of the issues with traditional handheld jar lid and screw-top bottle openers are weak grip strength and lack of leverage. A jar opener that is mounted securely to the underside of a cabinet above the kitchen counter(s) and has a V-shaped area with large, serrated metal teeth on one side of the "V," such as the popular and highly rated EZ Off Jar Opener, can help with both these issues, and also accommodate a wide range of bottle cap and jar lid diameters. It enables you to grip the jar more securely with both hands as you turn it counterclockwise, and holds the lid firmly in place as you twist the container.

When trying to open very tightly sealed jars, however, the large, serrated teeth could bite into the sides of the metal lids deeply enough to cut grooves or gouges with sharp, jagged metal edges.

Automatic Electric Jar Openers

Many women (especially those who have limited grip strength), seniors, and people who suffer from arthritis are fans of automatic electric jar openers, and find that these (theoretically) hands-free electric openers give them a greater sense of independence in their daily lives. They can be quite effective at opening straight-sided glass jars (ideally without rounded "shoulders" at the top) that have tightly sealed, hard-to-open, metal screw-top lids.

However, these kitchen gadgets are more expensive than most manual bottle or jar openers, and have some limitations that manual openers don't. 

  • These automated openers should not be used with plastic jars or on plastic lids. 
  • While it is possible to use this type of automatic opener with tapered glass jars, doing so requires placing a hand on top of the gadget and maintaining firm downward pressure to prevent the plastic arms from slipping. Obviously, that isn't optimal, particularly for someone with arthritic or weak hands.
  • If one of these electric jar openers malfunctions, or just slips off a glass jar with "sloping shoulders" (potentially knocking it over, and perhaps causing it to break), they don't turn themselves off automatically, which I consider a safety risk. 
  • This type of opener operates fairly slowly, and it is important to wait until the entire automated cycle is complete before removing both the gadget and the newly-loosened bottle or jar lid. For someone who either lacks patience or needs to prepare a meal in a hurry may find this wait frustrating, or even be tempted to try to stop or remove their automatic electric jar opener prematurely. If they remove it during the cycle, the opener will continue to operate until the cycle completes, and stopping it mid-cycle would require removing the batteries while it was still running, which would be dangerous. 
  • They are wider and bulkier than most other types of jar openers, and may not fit in a crowded kitchen tools drawer.  
  • Most run on two AA batteries, which will need to be replaced for as long as the product remains in use. 
Despite those limitations, these electric jar openers are a wonderful option for anyone who is physically unable to grip both a jar and its lid securely and twist it open with the aid of a handheld or under-cabinet jar opener or rubber gripper pads. As long as they can press the enormous button on the top of this tool to initiate the cycle, the process of opening a jar is fully automated and hands-free, except for jars that are tapered or have rounded "shoulders." (As I mentioned, opening those types of jars requires placing a hand on top of the device and holding it firmly in place throughout the entire automated cycle, to prevent it from slipping off the lid, which makes that a hands-on vs. a hands-free operation.)

Rubber Jar Openers AKA Rubber Jar Grips, Jar Opener Rubber Grips

I would never had considered buying a rubber jar opener, or even looked at the terrific Jar Heads rubber jar opener gripper pads, if my husband and I hadn't received one as a promotional gift from our favorite local barbecue restaurant many years ago, when we lived in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood. It was a large, pig-shaped cutout made from a thin, pink, textured rubber sheet, emblazoned on one side with the restaurant's whimsical logo and its address, phone number, and website in bold, black permanent ink. At the time, we thought it was a cute idea, but nearly threw it out. How could this flimsy piece of rubber sheet work better than a traditional jar opener with sharp, serrated, stainless steel jaws? 

Fortunately, we never got around to tossing it. One day, on a whim, I decided to give it a try. I was astonished at how much faster and easier I could open a brand new jam jar with an extremely tight lid by using this silly, pig-shaped, subtly textured rubber "rag" than with any of the traditional handheld jar openers I had owned over the years. When my husband came home from an errand, I was excited to show him how much more securely I was able to maintain a grip on a stubborn lid and twist it open successfully with Porky's help, compared to my usual struggles with hard-to-open jars. Seeing how well it worked for me piqued his curiosity, and he wanted to experience the difference  between using this thin, rubber jar opener pad and using our traditional model, with stainless steel jaws with large, sharp teeth on one of the sides. Even though my husband is very strong, has a powerful grip, and doesn't need the help of a jar opener most of the time, he also was impressed by Porky's performance. He also liked the idea of using this simple rubber jar gripper pad to help him subdue the occasional extra-defiant lid and break the vacuum seal without having to rely solely on brute force. 

It's ironic that this mildly amusing, but seemingly worthless piece of thin, floppy, lightly textured rubber sheet, which we had nearly thrown in the trash bin, turned out to be by far the most useful, memorable, and appreciated promotional item either of us has ever received from any business. In addition, my husband and I soon figured out that if we could get two of these rubber jar openers, using one in each hand would strengthen my grip on the jars as well as the lids and increase my leverage, so that I wouldn't need as much strength or have to use as much force to open even stubborn jars with tightly sealed lids. 

At the time, our crazy work schedules and pressing family health issues left us with neither the time or energy to pursue the possibility of acquiring a second Porky. Then, after several years of loyal service, poor Porky met his demise in the line of duty, when the thin rubber sheet tore as grappled with one recalcitrant jar lid too many. Since we were no longer living in the city, I decided to call the barbecue restaurant and ask whether they still had any of their old promotional jar opener rubber grips and, if so, whether they would let me purchase half a dozen (two for immediate use and four more as spares). That's how I learned, to my dismay, that the restaurant had closed the previous year.

It was it was time to begin the search for a worthy successor to our beloved porcine rubber jar opener. 

I looked high and low for something similar, but there wasn't much to choose from at the time. I purchased a pair of white, flower-shaped, jar opener rubber grip pads, currently sold as NORPRO 597 Non-Slip Rubber Jar Openers, so I could use one in each hand to help me hold the glass jar securely while I twisted the lid open. I also liked the wider, 5.5-inch diameter of this style, and the rubber was thicker and, presumably, more durable. Unfortunately, that thickness made the rubber much stiffer and less pliable, so it couldn't conform to the lid, and the surface was smooth and almost slick, all of which made it harder to get a good grip with these, despite the "non-slip" marketing claim, 

A few years later, I found two more possible contenders. One was a set of natural rubber jar openers with an open waffle pattern similar to foam shelf liner, which also had a wider, 6-inch diameter. And, since they came in a set of four, I would have one to hold the jar, one to grip the lid, and two extras for backup. However, I worried whether the soft foam material and open weave might make them less grippy or less durable than I needed (or both), and in reading through the customer reviews, I found several that mentioned those issues. 

The other contender, the Prepworks by Progressive Jar Grips Multi-Purpose Lid Openers, looked very promising. This set of three rubber jar openers includes one teal blue, square grip pad approximately 5" wide, made from thin, flexible, lightly textured rubber sheet that looks to be very similar in weight, thickness, and flexibility to that the jar opener we had; a somewhat smaller green round sheet made of a slightly thinner material, and a red, 2" wide, rubber grip shaped like a truncated cone for gripping bottle lids, and made thicker and, presumably, somewhat sturdier material. Unfortunately, as I read through the numerous reviews, many of the customers who gave this set 5-star ratings did so primarily because of the bottle opener. People seems much less enthusiastic about the two rubber jar openers, which some considered too flimsy and likely to tear.

Jar Heads Rubber Jar Opener Gripper Pads for the Win!

When I felt that my search for Porky's replacement had reached the point of diminishing return, I decided to stop looking for additional candidates and go with options I might have missed, order a set of Jar Heads rubber jar openers, and cross my fingers that they would actually live up to their claims. 

Lady Luck must have been smiling on me, since the first time I used my new Jar Heads rubber jar opener grippers, I knew at once that I had hit the product roulette jackpot with these well made, easy to use kitchen gadgets!

Here are the main attributes, features, and benefits that led me to choose Jar Heads Rubber Jar Opener Grippers over the other rubber jar openers on my "short list" of contenders. 

Thin and Flexible Enough to Conform to Jars, Bottles, and Lids, Yet Tough Enough to Hold Up Under Pressure, and Over Time

  • Even though these jar opener pads are only about 1/16" thick, they're also sturdy and substantial.
  • Made from recycled rubber tires, which are designed to withstand much more abuse than twisting open bottle and jar lids! 
  • After 10 months of frequent use, and being squeezed into a drawer crammed with kitchen tools and kitchen gadgets in between uses, all five of our Jar Heads still look, feel and perform the same as they did when I first opened the package. 

Made From 100% Post-Consumer Recycled Tires

  • Uses sustainable, eco-friendly, recycled material and manufacturing practices.

Superior Grip Strength Lives up to "Non-Slip" and "Works Great for Weak Hands,...Seniors With Arthritis and Children" Claims 

  • While nearly every rubber jar opener product’s marketing makes these claims, few live up to them.
  • By contrast, Jar Heads take advantage of the powerful grip strength that has been engineered into the rubber tires from which these jar opener gripper pads are made, which also gives them exceptional durability

Wide Enough to Grip Large Jars, Flexible Enough to Grip Small Bottles

  • The 5" diameter make these rubber discs are wide enough to grab onto even oversized pickle jars or  party-sizes pretzels sold in bulk at warehouse stores like Costco or Sam's Club.
  • They are also thin and flexible enough to grip a small, slender hot sauce bottle and its extremely small screw-on lid. 

Made in the USA

  • Buying products made in the USA supports American companies, workers, and their families.  

Sold in Sets of Five

  • That's enough to share, or use in pairs, and still have spares!

Strong, High-Quality Jar Openers for $2.50 Apiece

  • At the time this post was published, a 5-pack of Jar Heads was selling on Amazon for $12.50, with free shipping for Amazon Prime members. That works out to just $2.50 each for these excellent jar opener rubber grips! 
  • At that low price, you could give these out as stocking stuffers to everyone on your holiday gift list, or as small "just because I'm thinking of you" gifts any time of year.

30-Day, 100% Money-Back Satisfaction Guarantee

  • I respect and prefer to buy from companies that have enough confidence in the quality and performance of what they make or sell, and have a strong enough commitment to their customers to stand behind their products with a risk-free, 100% money-back satisfaction guarantee. 

    Jar Heads are sold by First Class Products of NY, which describes itself as a "Small Family Run Business founded in New York" on its Amazon Seller Profile Page, where you can contact them directly with a question or concern, and also read the overwhelmingly positive seller feedback from their Amazon customers. 

A screenshot of the seller's Amazon Seller Profile page 

Jar Heads Make Great Gifts for Seniors

Or Anyone With Small or Weak Hands or Limited Grip Strength

  • Gives them more confidence to open jars and bottles by reducing the legitimate fear of losing their grip on glass containers and knocking over or dropping them, potentially causing them to break into dangerous, sharp glass pieces and shards.
  • Reduces the frustration and embarrassment of needing to rely on someone else to take care of this routine task for them, and waiting for someone to be available to help.

A Helpful, Inexpensive Aid That Makes Anyone, Regardless of Their Grip Strength

  • Even people who have strong enough hands to loosen tight lids or break the vacuum seals on new, unopened bottles and jars will appreciate how much less effort it takes to open them with the help of these Jar Heads rubber grip pads.


Jar Heads Rubber Jar Opener Gripper Pads product review by Margaret Schindel


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