The Apple Enthusiast’s Wish List

Whether you’re planning a pick-your-own excursion or just stocking up at a local market, there are many sweet ways to use peak-season apples. But while perfectly baked pie and strudel are real treats, prepping apples for baking can be less than enjoyable—unless you have the right tools. In this week’s buying guide you’ll find tried and tested gadgets such as the processor that peels, cores, and slices more quickly than the speediest test cook. We’ve also selected other equipment that will help you make the most of apple season, including the best pie plate, our favorite cutting board, and the cast-iron skillet that produces perfect apple pancakes and crisps.

A quality cast-iron skillet is good for more than just apple desserts; you can use this versatile pan to make everything from pizza and sandwiches to eggs and breakfast sausage. In our book Cook It in Cast Iron, the editors of America’s Test Kitchen share foolproof cast-iron skillet recipes for all your favorite dishes along with tips and tricks, including how to season, clean, and maintain your skillet.

This corer’s large handle, sharp teeth, and wide two-part barrel allowed testers to push through even large, crunchy apples with ease. The corer’s sturdy hinge stayed securely in the closed position until we were ready and then released cores quickly and easily.

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This golden-hued metal plate baked crusts beautifully without overbrowning; even bottom crusts emerged crisp and flaky. Additionally, we liked this plate’s nonfluted lip, which allowed for maximum crust-crimping flexibility. One minor drawback: The metal surface is susceptible to cuts and nicks, but we found that this didn’t affect its performance.

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This no-frills Super Benriner model is a cult favorite among restaurant cooks and home cooks alike, and for good reason: Its razor-sharp blades can handle even the toughest produce, and it can be set in a seemingly infinite range of thicknesses, effortlessly churning out paper-thin or chunky slices and julienne. (There are no fixed thickness settings, but most testers saw this as a positive trait, since it allowed them to customize the thickness so broadly.) It’s big enough to handle larger produce but still relatively compact for easy storage. And though it has only a simple rubber bumper, it rarely budges, thanks again to its sharp blade, which requires so little effort to slice food that the mandoline never fights back. Its simple plank shape allows you to use it vertically or to hook it over a bowl. Just don’t expect much from its hand guard, which is pretty much useless.

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Simple, intuitive, inexpensive, and stable, the winner of our previous test easily spiralized apples, beets, potatoes, and zucchini with relatively little waste. Better yet, the Paderno Tri-Blade was able to turn almost all of the produce into even, consistent noodles and ribbons. It was one of the only machines capable of spiralizing butternut squash into long, regular strands—although the stress of this endeavor caused the handle to crack on its last round of testing.

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With ample cooking surface for sautéing eight chicken pieces without crowding, a steady, even heat for excellent browning; low, flaring sides for good evaporation; and good balance, this pan offers everything we want in a 12-inch skillet. Since our initial review was published, All-Clad has introduced a number of useful improvements to this pan. A more steeply angled handle offers testers better leverage, and a higher amount of aluminum in the core makes the pan induction-compatible, though also faster to heat (requiring a little more vigilance from the cook.) And finally, a new, tight-fitting, slightly convex lid adds value to an already excellent pan.

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Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

This inexpensive, lightweight food mill proved the top choice of every cook who tried it. Despite a relatively small capacity, good spring force enabled it to puree foods quickly and efficiently while allowing just a few tomato and berry seeds to pass through. Its handles were comfortable, and it was easy to lift and crank (a narrow crossbar made it a tad tricky to take apart). Best of all, long, notched legs allowed the mill to feel comparatively stable while sitting high and secure above the food.

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