My Favourite Kitchen Tools Series
Spatulas – is it silly to admit that a simple spatula is probably the most utilized tool in my kitchen? Spatulas are really not all that simple. Not interesting, but necessary.
Spatulas go well beyond the scope of typical ordinary bowl scraper varieties to include silicone spatulas which can be used for cooking, stirring, sautéing, frying and blending; off-set spatulas (a pastry chef’s third hand); a combination spatula and spoon scraper; as well as a variety of pan and bowl scrapers with different shapes, sizes and materials for a wide range of uses.
There are many nicknames attached to this humble tool. I have a collection of interesting wooden utensils called “spurtles” that were given as a wedding gift. There are spatulas now available that are technically brilliant, called “spoonulas”; and there is a multitude of “scrapers” now available on the market.
There is even a funny story of my sister doing a 4-H baking demonstration in her pre-teen years, confidently calling this handy implement a “spitoola” in front of the judges. We all had a good laugh over that mispronunciation. She has not lived that one down and that name “spitoola” has stuck after all these years.
Perhaps it is my frugal nature, but I cringe when I see people dump bowls or pans into the sink that have so much goodness left in them, particularly when it is chocolate mousse or vanilla custard. A spatula is the tool “at hand” when I am tackling most tasks in the kitchen. It is as indispensable as my cutting board or Santoku knife.
It has become such a necessity in our household that we specifically go shopping for spatulas. If they all end up in the dishwasher after a marathon cooking day, we tend to go into a panic. Like a chef’s favourite knife, we also have our spatulas of choice. There are others in the “spatula drawer” (yes, we have a spatula drawer) that quickly lose their status if they do not meet certain criteria, such as strength, flexibility, heat, cold and stain resistance, and durability. No cutesie spatulas here, please, although, as a chef and pastry chef, a few unusual varieties have appeared over the years, given to me by friends and colleagues as gifts – they have a special place.
There are even miniature versions of spatulas (handy for the youngest visitors in our kitchen); also mega-sized spatulas that have really no use in the kitchen except for taking up precious storage space.
Alas, our favourite brand of silicone spatulas (from Linen & Things) is no longer being produced. We continue our search for a new supplier as our existing supply is starting to show its wear and tear, but we refuse to retire them. How will we live without them?
There are one-piece as well as two-piece spatulas – the two-piece versions can become problematic, particularly if the handle is wooden. Over time, the wooden portion tends to separate far too easily from the scraper portion. Look for quality utensils that will hold up under any circumstance, with enough flexibility to do the job well. They should be neither too stiff nor too floppy.
It is a personal choice in the end, however, quality definitely pays off when buying a simple spatula (no dollar store spatulas, please!) and the right utensil will give you many years of solid use.
Please CLICK the link above to access my UrbnSpice LEARNING TIPS, which are listed alphabetically on the Learning Tips blog post under the following subheadings:
- Basic Tools – The Simple Spatula
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A Pastry Chef’s Third Hand – the Off-set spatula