Early last March, we highlighted five products from Quirky, a crowdsourcing industrial design company, that we wanted to see come to life. One of the five is Stem, a simple machine that inserts into a fruit to suck juice out. The idea is grand, really. Why bother cutting up fruits into slices to add a finishing touch to your food when you can spritz just the amount you need without juicing the whole fruit? Imagine my elation when a Quirky team member contacted me and said Stem has finally become a real product.
Designer Timothy Houle submitted the prototype and Stem became one of the fastest idea-to-reality projects the company has ever seen. Did those quick months pay off? Find out as I take you into a glimpse of my kitchen and see how well Stem worked out.
Look and feel
When you first receive the Stem, you almost want to kick yourself for not coming up with the product on your own. The design is simple and ingenious: Merely a plastic spray nozzle attached to a removable shield end with serrated teeth to cut into your fruit. Quirky lead designer Jordan Diatlo tells us the product was as close to perfect as prototypes get, and it was an idea that everyone on the team agreed upon once the submission was received.
However, the prototype did come with a minor design issue. After testing the original, the team realized the spritzer would stop working after a few pushes.
“We realized pulp was getting stuck in the mechanics so [we] added the green shield on the bottom that can be twisted off and cleaned under the sink,” Jordan elaborates. “The original design was really well thought out and about 95 percent of the way done. We just cleaned up the little bits that needed to be refined.”
Stem is incredibly lightweight, but is the plastic teeth enough to cut through the fruit?
“Tap the Flavor.” It really is that easy. To make sure I get the most juice from my lemon, I used the old school trick of warming the fruit in the microwave for a quick couple of seconds and rolled it to get the juices flowing. The Stem was able to pierce through the lemon without fail, though I may have over-rolled the lemon as juices leaked out from the sides of the nozzle’s base. However, once I had the Stem inserted, a couple of presses got the juice spraying out evenly into the air. This is excellent over salad, fish, or avocados to keep them from browning.
It was truly surprising how well Stem worked. I did not have any issue with pulp, though if I did I would theoretically remove the handle and rinse out the inside to start over again. Since I didn’t use the whole lemon, I also just stored the entire thing back in the fridge as if the lemon became its own spray container. The next morning, the juices still flowed right out of the fridge despite not getting the microwave blast this time around.
The Stem seems limited to lemons and limes, as they are probably the only fruits you’d want little sprays of each serving. But if the teeth is strong enough to cut through the lemon’s skin, it should have no problem with oranges either. We can find some creative uses for this product, such as adding a little zesty orange fragrance on some pound cake. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if I ended up using this all the time for random kitchen needs.
Should you buy it?
My only gripe with Stem is the value of juice per lemon when I spray versus traditionally juice. Since you can’t squeeze all the juice out from the very core, Stem will only suck up as much as the tiny straw can find under the fruit’s skin. Still, this isn’t a huge concern since I wouldn’t use Stem if I were to use lemon juice as part of a cooking ingredient or to make lemonade. The product is clearly made for a very specific purpose.
I’m usually vary about saying this for any ol’ product, but I whole-heartedly recommend the Stem. It’s just so simple and easy to use, and it only costs $5. What have you got to lose for that? You can purchase Stem from the Quirky website or find it in the kitchen appliance section at your local Target.
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