Reviewed by Jane Warwick
The KitchenCraft Deluxe Chefs Blow Torch, from Alliance Online, arrived in moulded clear- plastic packaging which safely protected it during transit. The packaging is easily removed to release both the blow torch and a set of multilingual instructions. I also received a butane gas cannister, which you will also need for your blowtorch to work (it is not supplied with one, available to purchase separately). This type of butane aerosol should be available from most newsagents and tobacconists and the type used was ‘Bright Spark Catering Blowtorch Refill’. Do make sure your aerosol has the correct universal fitting to access the valve on the blow torch.
The blow torch is of simple design consisting of a ribbed black cylinder which contains the butane fuel and also serves as a handle. A simple valve on the top of the cylinder acts as an on/off switch and controls the amount of gas released to the nozzle. The gas is lit by piezo ignition which is very easily activated by pressing a red button on the side of the cylinder.
Filling the blow torch with butane gas needs to be done in a well-ventilated area (outside is perfect!). The instructions for filling the blow torch are easy to follow but it is stressed that you must wait for two minutes after filling before lighting it to enable the gas to stabilise and for vapour to dissipate.
Turning the on/off valve ‘on’ releases a stream of gas which is lit by a spark from the piezo ignition. The size of the flame can then be controlled by adjusting the on/off valve and the manufacturers recommend an operating angle of 45 degrees down. They stress that the flame should not be pointed directly down as built up heat may damage the unit.
The blow torch can be used for a variety of tasks around the kitchen including skinning tomatoes, searing peppers, caramelising crème brulees and browning meringues. I had a go at searing peppers which were quick to do; browning meringues (this does not take long at all), and I even speeded up the crackling on a joint of pork (the crackling really did taste good). It is light to hold so it is easy to direct the flame as well as control flame size. In addition, it can also be used for model building, repair work and even small soldering jobs! Unlike some of the larger, professional machines on the market it is designed for the amateur, home cook and for this purpose it is more than adequately suited. The manufacturers claim that with a full cylinder the blow torch can run for up to an hour, but this seems wildly optimistic. However, it is most unlikely that you would ever require it to last this long in a domestic setting.
In his book ‘Proper Pub Food’, the Michelin-starred celebrity chef, Tom Kerridge, claims a kitchen blow torch is an essential piece of kitchen equipment which ‘gives an extra dimension to dishes. It’s great for adding colour, but most importantly it gives an incredible charred taste’. The Kitchen Craft Deluxe Chefs Blow Torch should help any aspiring home cook to easily produce such results in their own kitchen.
Many acquired gadgets for the kitchen are used for a short period of time but this has many uses so I will not be confining it to the back of a kitchen cupboard.
RRP: £16.07 + VAT (£19.28)
For more information or to buy online visit www.allianceonline.co.uk.