Tovolo Easy Reach Baster review:
An Ergonomic Update for the Bulb Baster
Large capacity, with a stay-cool squeeze bulb and interchangeable basting tips.
Handling is a bit awkward, and there are a lot of parts to keep track of.
Even with its flaws, this is a really useful baster that we think is worth the price.
Few kitchenware companies have a design aesthetic as freewheeling as Tovolo’s. The Seattle-based company designs tools with lots of modern flair. Nothing (repeat: nothing) is too basic for the Tovolo treatment. Take the humble bulb baster, a fixture in American kitchens, fished out of gadget drawers for Thanksgiving. Tovolo has a pretty straightforward model (with a few tweaks), as well as one with a shape (not to mention promises of precise basting-liquid delivery) that made us curious to give it a squeeze. In terms of pure form, the Easy Reach Baster piqued our interest. One CHOW staff member thought it looked a bit like an elongated snail or aardvark; another saw the infamous leg lamp from the movie A Christmas Story. Can all this design add up to a better baster?
Not counting the tip, Tovolo’s Easy Reach Baster is 12 inches long and weighs 5 1/4 ounces. It’s made of BPA-free plastic with a silicone valve; both are dishwasher safe. It comes with three interchangeable tips: a standard tip (with stand), a wide tip, and a silicone basting brush, all capable of handling temperatures up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Unlike the classic bulb baster, the Easy Reach has a curved design that’s said to be more maneuverable when you’ve got the oven door open (safer, too, since there’s presumably less chance of burning your hand by brushing it against your oven’s ceiling). Measurement markings up to 1 1/2 ounces (full capacity of the baster is 2 1/2 ounces) are printed on the tube, useful if you need to remove a precise volume of liquid for a recipe. The silicone valve is designed to hold the liquid until you’re ready to release it, and the whole thing is built to be nonrolling so it’ll stay on the counter after you put it down. It comes with a cleaning brush.
We did two tests with the Tovolo. First, we used it to suck up boiling water just to check the volume and to see if it would prove uncomfortably hot to handle. Second, we basted a butterflied duck to check the Easy Reach's oven handling.
Boiling water: It sucked up the full 2 1/2 ounces of liquid, no problem. Even with the heat, the silicone bulb stayed cool to the touch. (Naturally, the plastic squeeze tube did get warm.) And there was no random dripping from the tip till we were ready to squeeze.
Roasted duck: The Easy Reach did a good job sucking up a large volume of fatty juices and releasing them where we wanted on the bird. It was easy to switch to the wider basting tip (great for the corners of roasting pans). And though it was also no problem switching to the basting brush tip, we didn’t find the fringelike brush to be that useful for this application: The juices just kind of dripped out in one stream instead of flowing out evenly over the silicone bristles, and it wasn’t the easiest brush to maneuver. We could see it performing better as a barbecue basting brush on the grill, with lots of open space above and around the food, but not for oven use.
General stuff: We ended up finding the length of the Easy Reach a little awkward. Still, we liked the large volume of liquid it can handle, as well as its powerful suction. We also appreciated its versatility: You can suck up and discard fat, then change tips and brush the roasting juices onto the skin of your bird (even though the brush attachment was a little hard to maneuver in the oven). Even with its flaws, the Easy Reach is a very good baster, one you’ll probably find yourself using long after the holiday roasting season is over.
Photos by Chris Rochelle