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In many parts of the U.K., 6 p.m. is tea time. Depending on your heritage, this daily ritual could be a simple as pouring hot water over a tea bag or as regal as your servant presenting you with a silver tray adorned with an elegant tea pot, heirloom china cups, and home-baked biscuits.
As different as they are, these two ceremonies share one common element: they both begin with a tea kettle.
Whether you live in the U.K., the U.S., or another part of the world, you may already be familiar with the joys of an electric kettle.
These helpful appliances provide a fast, easy way to boil water. And because nearly all electric kettles have a safety feature that turns off the appliance when the water boils, accidents rarely occur.
But boiling water for tea time is just one use for an electric kettle. You could also use the water to make French press coffee or a quick ramen lunch.
For road warriors, an electric kettle can be used to prepare an entire meal, thereby avoiding costly room service or delivery charges.
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If you’re ready to purchase an electric kettle, we invite you examine the above matrix where we profile our top five picks.
To gain a better understanding of electric kettles, we invite you to read on and learn more in our shopping guide.
Statistics suggest that more than 160 million cups of tea are consumed in the U.K. each day.
An electric kettle is an extremely simple appliance. Look inside, and you’ll see a container to hold water and a heating element. When the kettle is plugged in, the element gets hot and heats the water in the container. Simple stuff.
Most electric kettles have 2,400 watts of power and take approximately two to three minutes to bring water to a boil. However, an electric kettle with even more power — say 3,000 watts — will boil water even faster.
When the water reaches its boiling point, the kettle turns off. In pricier electric kettles and high-end coffee makers, an electronic thermostat provides the user with precise control over the temperature at which the appliance shuts off.
Born and raised in Paris, the land of unapologetic butter, Francois has spent the last 20 years shaping the American culinary world behind the scenes. He was a buyer at Williams-Sonoma, built the Food Network online store, managed product assortments for Rachael Ray's site, started two meal delivery businesses and runs a successful baking blog. When he's not baking a cake or eating his way through Europe, Francois enjoys sharing cooking skills with cooks of all levels. Rules he lives by: "Use real butter" and "Nothing beats a sharp knife."
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Breville Ikon Cordless 1.7-Liter
There’s no denying that a standard, non-electric teapot is a beautiful symbol of the “classic” kitchen. But with the right electric kettle — one that looks as good as it functions — you can have that classic look while enjoying the perks of an electric model.
Beyond aesthetics, there are a number of reasons why you might select an electric kettle over the traditional variety.
Electric kettles work faster.
In fact, an electric kettle can boil water up to twice as fast as a stovetop kettle.
Stovetop kettles can explode.
This is a particular danger for glass kettles. High heat can cause the glass to shatter, sending little pieces of shrapnel flying around the kitchen.
While coffee is more popular than tea in the U.S., the average American still consumes seven to eight gallons of tea each year.
Electric kettles have cooler handles.
Anyone who has lifted a stainless steel or glass kettle off the stove without the aid of an oven mitt will testify it’s an easy way to suffer a bad burn. The handle of an electric kettle is cool to the touch.
Electric kettles heat more precisely.
A number of electric kettles allow the user to select a precise heating temperature. If you'll be using it primarily for tea, our expert Francois suggests choosing a model with different temperature settings for green or black tea. If you’re a green tea lover, you may already know that Japanese green tea steeps with boiling water that has been heated between 160°F and 170°F. If this kind of precision matters to you, an electric kettle could be the better solution.
PG Tips is the most popular brand of tea in England.
As with other electric appliances, the safety concerns relating to electric kettles center around the use of plastic in the product.
When plastic parts, such as the liner of the kettle, come into contact with water, there are possible health hazards. Polycarbonate plastic parts that have BPA are known to cause health problems in young as well as unborn children. BPA also has been linked to obesity.
Even if an electric kettle says it is plastic-free, there may be a part of the appliance — such as the lid — that’s made of some sort of plastic or resin. The key is to avoid kettles in which any plastic part comes in contact with the water.
While one might believe that boiling water would reduce BPA health hazards, the opposite is actually true: it only intensifies the contact with the plastic.
Also, there are many consumers who claim plastic gives the water an unpleasant taste.
For safety reasons, do not buy an electric kettle in which any plastic parts come into contact with boiling water.
You can easily tick off the most common and obvious uses for an electric kettle. There’s tea, coffee, and the varieties instant soups that require boiling water.
But, as stated earlier, an electric kettle can be a traveler’s (or food hacking enthusiast’s) best friend. Here are a few nifty tricks.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
"Everything about the Cuisinart PerfecTemp says quality," says our cooking expert Francois. This kettle has excellent ergonomics, and all the important functions are easy to reach. The lid has a wide opening, and the spout neither drips nor spits. Construction quality gets a thumbs up, too; many have owned their Cuisinart kettle for years, and few report any faults.
Soak rice in water for 20 minutes. Cut up vegetables such as scallions and green beans into small pieces. Add rice, vegetables, seasonings, and water to the kettle and cook for 20 minutes or until done.
In the U.S., an electric kettle is sometimes referred to as a “hot pot.”
Simply bring some water to a boil and add your instant noodles. Cook and season the noodles according to package directions.
We advise that you don’t add the seasoning until you’ve poured the water into a different container. The noodle seasoning might be yummy, but you probably don’t want that flavor crossing over into your next cup of tea!
This is a fairly simple process that includes placing raw eggs in the kettle and propping up the appliance to prevent the automatic shut-off from engaging. (The reason for this is that if the kettles turns off once the water boils, the eggs will not have cooked long enough to be done.)
Set your clock for 13 minutes, and shut off the kettle at that point. Drain the water and carefully place the eggs in ice water.
If you use hot water from your electric kettle to make instant soup, we recommend that you mix the seasoning into the water in another container. You certainly wouldn’t want the seasoning from your soup to flavor the other things you make with your kettle!
When you’re finished with it, turn off your kettle and allow it to fully cool down.
Clean the outside and the base with a damp cloth, and then dry it with a smooth, soft rag or cloth.
Wash the inside of the kettle with warm water and dishwashing liquid. Never immerse the kettle or place it in the dishwasher.
Dry the inside of the kettle with a cloth, or allow it to air dry.
To remove scaling, fill the kettle with a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar. Bring the water to a boil and allow it to sit and penetrate for 30 minutes. Dispose of the solution, and let the kettle air dry.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Secura Double Wall Electric Kettle
Q. What are the benefits of a cordless electric kettle?
A. A cordless electric kettle sits on a base that contains the heating element. Being able to remove the kettle allows the user to bring it more easily to the table for serving.
Q. What is the origin of the word “kettle”?
A. “Kettle” may stem from the Latin word catillus, which means “deep pan or dish for cooking.” Others believe it is from the Old Norse word ketill, which means cauldron.
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