I love working with cherries to make cobblers and pies, but I find that I will often reach for frozen or jarred cherries for convenience, rather than choose to work with fresh cherries. I do work with fresh cherries some of the time, but pitting them is a very time consuming endeavor and you can get great quality frozen and jarred cherries all year long. That said, when cherries are coming in to season it is hard to beat a perfectly ripe, fresh cherry, so I arm myself with a cherry pitter and get to work to make them usable for baking. The Cherry-It Pitter from Progressive International recently caught my eye, because it offers a way to streamline the process of cherry pitting by allowing you to pit multiple cherries at once.
The pitter is easy to use. Once you position your cherries in the removable tray inside, you simply push down on the lid, where sharp sharp cutters come through and push the pits out of the cherries into cavity below the tray. The cherries don’t need to be positioned in a certain way, so the process makes for very quick loading and unloading. The tray that holds the cherries also has four smaller cavities, which can be used to remove the pits from olives (or very small cherries that aren’t quite stable in the large cavities). The tray that catches the pits also collects quite a bit of the juice from the pitting process, so you’ll have less cleanup and less risk of staining your clothes while you work.
The best way to store flour is in an airtight container, so that nothing unwanted gets into your flour and so that the flour stays fresh, longer. There are all kinds of airtight containers out there that you can choose from, but it makes things a lot easier when you opt for a container designed for flour storage because you get a few extra features that will make the container easier to use.
The Progressive International Flour Keeper DKS100, for instance, is a great example. This rectangular keeper holds up to 5 lbs – a standard, grocery store bag – of flour at a time. The lid has a locking clasp that snaps down tight to create an airtight seal, yet is still easy to open with one hand. The opening is very wide, allowing even large measuring cups to fit inside with ease. The best feature, however, is that this container comes with a built in flour leveler just inside the lid. The leveler allows you do do a “scoop and sweep” measure with your measuring spoons or cups without dirtying any additional utensils. The only time that you wouldn’t be able to easily us it is when the container is newly-filled and flour comes all the way up to the rim, but otherwise it is always there when you need it.
Cake carriers are a must-have tool for bakers who want to be able to easily transport their goodies from one place to another. You can fill them up with anything, from brownies to cupcakes, but the real advantage they offer is in their height, since it allows you to transport a fully-frosted layer cake safely in a way that no other container can match. Cake carries are large and bulky, since they have to hold large things, but one model – the Progressive International Collapsible Cupcake and Cake Carrier – comes with an interesting twist that makes it take up much less space. As you can guess from the name, it collapses to half its original height, which is a real space saver when it comes time to store it.
I’ve been eyeing one of these carries ever since Cook’s Country named it their top choice in their review of cake carriers, since the idea of a cake carrier that would be easier to store really appealed to me (as it would to anyone who doesn’t have abundant storage space in his/her kitchen!). It is over 10-inches tall, so it will hold just about any cake, and collapses down to just 5-inches high thanks to the silicone panel on the lid. It also comes with racks to hold up to 24 cupcakes securely inside.
Cook’s Country rated and reviewed cake carriers a while back, and picked out the Progressive International Collapsible Cake Carrier as its top choice for being sturdy and easy to store. The only problem with the carrier, which holds up to two dozen cupcakes or a single 9-inch layer cake, is that it really only works for a certain type of cake. In fact, not too many cake carriers are made for rectangular cakes, even though rectangular cakes (such as those baked in 9×13-inch pans) are one of the most popular cake sizes for parties and events. Fortunately, Progressive International makes a Collapsible 9×13 Cake Carrier that uses the same space-saving collapsible system that its round carriers use.
This carrier measures 16×20-inches and holds a 9×13-cake with ease. When not in use, the carrier folds up to be only 2.75-inches high. There is plenty of room on the tray for your entire baking dish, if you don’t want to take the cake out, and you can also place a cake directly on the base, turning into a serving platter. It can also be used to transport and store other casseroles or baked main dishes, as well as for cupcake, cookies and smaller baked goods. The base reverses to turn into an appetizer tray – with higher sides to hold small veggies and crackers in place – which is convenient for any event where you’ll be bringing snacks, rather than dessert.