two burners on black surface

Save Space in the Kitchen with Products That Fold

One of the joys of living in Manhattan is having the entire culinary world at your doorstep.  Macrobiotic vegan food for breakfast, authentic Ethiopian food for lunch and old-school Jewish deli for dinner?  Sign me up.

On the other hand, this vibrant dining scene comes at a steep price.  And that price is tiny, terrible kitchens. Some New Yorkers eat at restaurants three meals a day and have no need for a space-hogging kitchen in their otherwise cramped apartments.  When hunting for apartments I have seen – horror of all horrors – apartments with NO OVEN. Let me repeat that. NO OVEN. Not even space to install your own oven. I’m not even talking about crappy, run-down, bachelor-pad type places.  I have seen fancy doorman buildings that have ovenless apartments.

The first time I saw an apartment like this I thought I was going to have a heart attack.  I remember pacing back and forth in a seemingly perfect apartment that I was about to sign a lease on, trying to figure out what was missing.  It never even occurred to me that not having an oven was an option. I had always taken an oven for granted. You know, apartments have toilets, windows and ovens.  Or so I thought. Thankfully I realized in time and didn’t move in to that apartment.

When New Yorkers are desperate enough to give up an oven to save space, you can imagine the premium that we put on every object that enters our precious real estate.  Will we really use that stand mixer? The food processor? Can we live without a dish rack? Is there a smaller version available? Will I have to store it under the bed?

kitchen with oven and wooden cabinets by living room hardwood floor

My first New York City apartment, with the kitchen built in to a corner of the living room literally as an afterthought (it originally didn’t have a kitchen because it was converted from a hotel). I settled on this apartment after the previous one we looked at didn’t have an oven.

As an avid chef I hate to give up on kitchen tools.  Yes, I use my food processor, blender, coffee grinder, and fine china with regularity.  I frequently cook for groups of 5-10 people. When it comes to the kitchen I refuse to compromise, even if that means getting a little creative with storage.  My kitchen has been compared to a submarine, with every object taking a very precise and measured spot with not a millimeter to spare. So when I find something that folds up to save space I feel like I’ve won the lottery.

Foldable Items for the Kitchen

I’ve tried an endless array of folding kitchen utensils.  And having not an inch to spare, I am here to ruthlessly review what has earned a place in my finely-curated kitchen and what didn’t live up to my expectations.  

Folding Hotplate

A hotplate can heat up a meal and keep it warm for many hours, which comes in handy when you don’t have enough (or any) burners to heat up your food. Although a hotplate doesn’t get quite as hot as a burner, it can still keep your food extremely hot for when you’re ready to serve it. And unlike a burner, when you’re done with it you can fold it away to take advantage of the counter space.

HotMat 2DISH Connect Hot Plate on counter

The HotMat is currently the only hotplate on the market that folds in half to save space, which makes it extremely useful for travel as well as for conserving precious counter space. I also find it more aesthetically pleasing than other hotplates on the market, due to the fact that there are no jutting parts and also its overall minimalistic design. The coils and knobs are neatly tucked away and enclosed, which also helps reduce its footprint.

Collapsible Produce Keeper

Progressive Prepworks produce keeper open and folded on table

From what I can tell, the typical Manhattan fridge is half-size, about 2′ wide by 4′ tall. These tiny fridges do not leave a lot of space for leftovers stored in pans or bags of leafy greens. Having perfectly sized containers that can easily stack is the best solution for an overflowing refrigerator. The prepworks® Collapsible Produce Keeper attempts to take care of that by squashing down to half size when you don’t need all that container space. Although this sounds fabulous, I was disappointed by a few failures in the produce keeper’s design. You can read my detailed review of the prepworks produce keeper here. Overall, I’d say this is only worth it if you really need the fridge space, and have a high tolerance for reassembling parts that come loose.

Foldable Whisk

Joseph Joseph Twist Whisk both open and folded in multicolor

The Joseph Joseph Twist™ Whisk combines a balloon whisk and a flat whisk into one, saving a great deal of drawer space. To fold it, you just have to twist the knob at the tip of the handle; to unfold it you just twist it back. In theory, this is a fantastic space-saving tool. However, I have some major reservations about the quality of this whisk. You can read my review of the Twist Whisk in detail here. Nevertheless, if you don’t plan on taking the whisk apart for any reason, then this could be a good baking tool to have that doesn’t take up a lot of space.

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