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Lab Stuff I wish I could use in my kitchen

We recently had a feature from Jode on everyday equipment that you can use in the lab, but what about the other way around?

Do you ever take a look at what you’re doing in the lab and think, “Wow, this would really come in handy at home?” Here are a few of the things I use in the lab that I would love to have in my kitchen:

1. Stir plates and stir bars would be incredibly useful for cooking those dishes that need to be stirred constantly. Can you imagine making risotto on a stir plate? Just start up the spin function, and you won’t have to stand over a hot pot for 30 minutes just to make a tasty dinner.

2. Parafilm works so much better than saran wrap, I’ve often been tempted to “borrow” a roll for sealing food containers to store in my fridge at home.

3. Liquid nitrogen would be invaluable for flash-freezing veggies and meats to store in the freezer. Imagine making popsicles instantly, and never having to wait for the ice cube tray to freeze!

4. De-ionized water from a tap in my kitchen would seriously decrease the number of times I have to run vinegar through the coffee maker to keep it flowing smoothly.

5. Freezer labels that stay stuck in extreme temperature conditions could eliminate the “mystery meal” phenomenon of pulling an unlabeled tupperware out of the freezer and hoping it’s soup.

6. A vortexer would be an essential party asset for mixing drinks, especially if you could also find conical cocktail glasses!

7. Lab timers can time multiple procedures and have louder buzzers than any kitchen timer I’ve found; they would be perfect for busy cooking days.

8. Freezer racks and boxes would make much better use of freezer storage space at home. What if you could get tupperware containers the same size and shape as freezer boxes, and organize them in those vertical metal racks just like in the -80°C freezer in the lab?

9. A 30°C incubator is the ideal tool for making bread. No more guesswork when it comes to rising times for bread; at the optimal temperature for yeast growth, you know exactly what the doubling time is, and thus exactly when the bread is ready to bake.

10. A desktop autoclave could be really handy for sterilizing baby bottles. I’d also use it to sterilize glasses and flatware after an illness, to make sure the same bug doesn’t make an unwelcome reappearance.

What lab items do you wish you could use in “real life”?

18 Comments

  1. Mynahbird on July 11, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    Parafilm and Liquid Nitrogen have been on my list WAY long. What a way to freeze leftovers and pack lunch!

  2. Katharine Wall on May 18, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    Hi everyone,

    I was very interested to find this thread as I am currently working on a product that is similar to a lab quality stir plate, for home use in the kitchen. It will be called the StirMaster. These items are very expensive to produce, and I haven’t been able to get the retail price down lower than $299. Does anyone have any feedback on this, any comments about how well it might work, etc? Is that price point way too high? I’m concerned about having to use only glass cookware as well, does the stir plate work with stainless steele cookware I wonder? All things to be tested.

    I’m interested in any feedback at all.

  3. Mayka Zelenakova on May 11, 2010 at 6:44 am

    The Soxhlet extractor. Not exactly a thing for the molecular folks,but it enchanted me since I stepped into the school lab. Imagine making coffee or green tea that could (literally) kill you, storing the concentrate in an ice tray a freezer (let´s say..uh… – 80°C B-) and then just dissolving one cube in a jar of hot water anytime you wish 😛

  4. Ryan on May 6, 2010 at 3:03 am

    I’ve been pretty tempted a few times to use the lyophilizer to freeze-dry food for backpacking. It would save a lot of money on dehydrated foods, and you could make whatever you wanted.

  5. Dani on May 3, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    I totally agree with the first 6 things on the list. I day dream about having some of those things in my kitchen. And while I considered swiping the parafilm for home use when I was in the lab, it couldn’t in good conscience use products that at some point probably came into contact with biological samples. But speaking of things from the lab that are extremely useful at home, nitrile gloves are awesome! They sell them in bulk at COSTCO and they are WONDERFUL for cleaning. Beakers would also come in handy for making the perfect 10% bleach sol’n.

  6. Guillaume Carpentier on May 3, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    With a 9-months baby at home, I found that wash bottle of water is a perfect device to wet cotton batting. And it is almost impossible to find them in a store ! But a problem is arising because baby want to grab it now 😉
    Another useful device is Falcon 50 mL to keep cotton swabs dry (when you go to swimming pool, for example).

  7. Kurt on May 3, 2010 at 5:01 am

    Water baths have moved in to the professional kitchens for sous-vide cooking, it might still take some time before they move in to everyday households though.

    • Adrian Zhang on January 4, 2019 at 7:54 am

      I’m 8 years late. You may never read this reply.
      But sous-vide is a big thing in home kitchens now! I’m sure you’ve heard, but it’s become far more accessible to the average household.

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