Sturdy and substantial, with a sleek modern look.
It’s at the top of the melon baller price scale.
A well-made tool with more uses than might seem obvious.
Ah, the melon baller, friend to caterers (butter balls for the buffet!), pastry chefs (chocolate truffles!), and at least one CHOW staffer, who kept one in his knife roll when he cooked in restaurants (scraping the seedy guts out of halved cucumbers!). Balling melons has pretty much fallen out of favor over the past 20 years, except maybe on cruise ships and in melon baskets for baby showers. One Chowhound talks up the melon baller as a carving tool for Halloween pumpkins. And CHOW Food Editor Amy Wisniewski uses one for scooping capers and olives out of the jar (the scoop holes leave the brine behind). This is a tool sort of like an egg slicer: probably not something you'd reach for all the time, but after you've used one, you get used to having it around. This one’s from KitchenAid, so it has some stepped-up design features and commands a higher price than generic ballers—after all, “gourmet” is in the product name. Are the upgrades worth the extra scratch?
Compared to a no-frills, restaurant-supply version, this is a melon baller with substantial weight and presence. It’s 9 inches long, with two stainless steel scoops sprouting from arms embedded in a plastic handle inset with the KitchenAid logo. There’s a big scoop (1 1/8 inches in diameter) and a small one (just under 1 inch). Each has a small hole at the back, useful for nudging out finicky spheres of honeydew or ganache. It’s dishwasher safe.
Melon baller in hand, we tested three subjects: cantaloupe (the classic), pear (melon ballers are good at removing cores), and—to test the sturdiness of the stainless steel arms—hard ice cream.
Cantaloupe: We cut our melon in half, then made an assortment of large and small melon balls. All came out clean, no jankiness or sticking.
Pear: We cut a pear in half and used the baller’s large scoop to extract the seeds and core. The result: a neat, semispherical crater that looked professional, perfect for poached or baked pears.
Ice cream: We had a little trouble scooping ice cream with chunks or chips, but straight-up vanilla came out in perfect mini spheres. We did have to use a skewer to gently nudge the scoop out through the small hole in the baller. And though a tiny scoop of ice cream isn't anything we thought we’d ever need in our life, it’d be just right for garnishing a mini root beer float at a party, or in a miniature ice cream sandwich. The bottom line is we use our melon baller for everything but balling melons.
General stuff: If you love fruit in ball shapes, then you need this tool in your life. If you don’t, but somehow end up with one in your tool drawer, you’ll find other uses for it. And that roughly $10 price tag, compared with $4 ballers that eventually bend and break, looks like a decent price.
Photos by Chris Rochelle