Tech Tools: Drop scale unlocks my inner Rachel Allen
Minimalist accessory tilts scales in favour of starter baker and wannabe chef
Product name: Drop scale
Where to buy: harveynorman.ie
When it comes to minimalist accessories, Drop has it nailed. The smart weighing scale gives nothing away about its function. Or even how to turn it on. There’s no obvious power button. In fact, there are no buttons of any kind. It’s just a small red and white object with a silicon top. It’s compact. I instantly like it.
I showed it to three people, and only one guessed what it was. Then when I let them in on the secret, they jabbed at it a couple of times, before giving up.
That’s because the Drop requires an iPad to make the most of it. You download the Drop Kitchen App from the App Store, and that will talk you through how to set up the scale, and also let you search for recipes. Without it, the scale is a bit of a mystery.
I downloaded the Drop Kitchen app before the device even landed on my desk. The free app doesn’t actually need the scale: you can choose to follow the recipes using your regular weighing scales and a bit of of common sense. But with the Drop scale, the simple recipe app becomes far more useful.
Setting up the scale is simple. Turn the Bluetooth on your iPad on before you even touch the Drop. The scale’s battery is preinstalled, so you simply pull out the tab and tap the button on the front of the scale. Once it switches on, the LED light flashes and the scale is connected. It was that easy. When the scale is connected, there’s a small blue drop icon in the corner of the app.
The next step is to pick what you want to make. There’s plenty choose from, and you can filter it out by cuisine type, prep time or difficulty, food type, or even occasion. I go for something simple: flour tortillas. The one problem: the recipe calls for shortening, and I’ve no clue what that is. But Drop Kitchen allows you to substitute ingredients for some recipes, so butter will do.
It’s late in the evening when I realise that I don’t actually have enough flour left for the recipe. Apparently that’s no problem for the Drop either; dump what you have in your bowl, it will measure it and then you can scale the recipe at the touch of a button.
Like the Perfect Bake, the scale will let you know when you’ve added enough of an ingredient. Again, the smaller measurements are a bit of an issue: it will measure a teaspoon of baking powder, but might force you to use your own judgment for a quarter teaspoon of salt, depending on the recipe. But it all seems to work out. The app gives you tips on mixing some of the ingredients, via images, which works for a baking dunce like me.
I don’t claim to be a good baker. My skills lie elsewhere (mainly scouring the shelves of the local M&S or Supervalu, or bribing my mother or sister into pitching up with some baked goods). But this is the second connected scale Tech Tools has looked at recently, and it turns out that, maybe, having explicit, step-by- step instructions is the key to unlocking my inner Rachel Allen.
The goodThe Drop app expands on much more than sweet treats. Want to make some paratha flat bread? Or how about some huevos rancheros? Maybe some meatballs? It’s all in the app, alongside mini chocolate cake doughnuts and lemon pound cake. Because the Drop is wireless, you can move a bit more freely than with the last scale reviewed here. There’s no need for a stand either.
You can also use the Drop simply as a regular weighing scales. You don’t have to follow a recipe in the app to get it to tell you how much flour is in the bowl. My regular digital scales (one careful owner, barely used) is starting to look a bit sad beside it.
The not so goodThe main functions of Drop are limited to the iPad, although an iPhone app allows you to use the weighing scale part . Of course, it’s an excuse to buy an iPad. But there are rumours of an Android app in the offing, and a fuller iPhone app is definitely on the way, so hold tight.
The restIt’s designed in Ireland. Yes, Drop has Irish roots. The device may be assembled in China, but the team behind it is from Dublin, and the company still has an office here.
The app also allows you to share photographs of your finished project. I’m not that confident yet.