The kitchen is going to change more in the next five years than it has in the last 50. That's the prediction we kept hearing at the Smart Kitchen Summit, a technology conference in Seattle, where inventors and entrepreneurs and chefs showed us what's new in the world of cooking and what's being planned for the future. Watch for these ways that technology could make you a better cook -- and, in some cases, where it already is offering a much-appreciated assist.
1. Print Your Own
"Who wants a 3-D pasta printer?" one panelist asked. That would have sounded nuts when the Barilla pasta company was founded in 1877, but the company is now ahead of the game with 3-D printers that spit out noodles instead of paper. In theory, home printers for pasta and other foods could let you adjust ingredients and shapes to your own tastes and dietary needs. Added bonus: You could design and make the most amazingly cute pasta shapes. It sounds like printers are being planned for all sorts of food, so there may be a day when you could print out your own tortillas or burgers.
2. Are My Appliances Smarter Than I Am?
Not exactly, but future models will help you cook, clean, and plan your meals. You'll have a lot more conversations with voice-activated appliances, the way you can already use Alexa on Amazon's Echo to find relevant recipes and have read them out loud. You'll be able to cook your food remotely and get a text message when dinner's ready, maybe through Joule, the sleek, wireless sous vide cooking device. Your bowls or blenders could sense when you've added the right quantities for a given recipe and analyze nutritional data for each serving on the spot. And your oven will let you know that your cake has reached the ideal interior temperature and it's time to take it out. (Luckily, the eating part is still your job.)
3. New Gadgets
Just when we've learned to appreciate the wonders of the Instant Pot, still more multipurpose kitchen tools are coming down the line. Some of them seemed designed to take the cook out of the kitchen, which isn't our thing. But we think there's a market for appliances like the Thermomix, a versatile -- yet, at $2,000, pricey -- appliance that offers more applications than a Ginsu knife. It chops, whisks, kneads, weighs, grinds, steams, and goodness knows what else. If I had a tiny kitchen or very limited living space it could be a miraculous tool for making recipes that would otherwise be out of reach. And if that doesn't sound like your style, watch out for other new gadgets like the machine that dispenses coffee when it senses that you've placed your empty cup under the spout. Yes, it's like an automatic sink faucet, but for coffee.
4. Safety First
We're looking forward to refrigerators that tell you when given ingredients are close to their expiration dates, or warn you about temperature fluctuations that might lead to spoiled milk or frozen lettuce. We liked the tabletop oven that advertised it was safe to touch even when the temperature inside topped 500 degrees F. And we saw a device that promised to cut off power to the stove if it sensed that a fire was about to start. Hopefully, it understands about flambés?
5. Extra Eyes And Ears
Scanners will be able to tell you whether your oats are truly gluten-free, or let you know the fat content of your meat, or pick out the sweetest peaches in a bowl. And apps will get to know your personal tastes and pull up new recipes that you'll love.
Does that sound like a bright future? We have good news, you get some of those benefits already with the Allrecipes Dinner Spinner.