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S_AndPepper

Which material for kitchen utensils?

23 posts in this topic

Hi, I am Industrial Design student and I want to design a new set of kitchen utensils. I was wondering which material people prefer during cooking for the following kitchen utensils:


 


- Solid Spoon


- Slotted Spoon


- Turner


- Spaghetti Server


- Ladle


- Skimmer


- Tongs


 


For example nylon/plastic, silicone, wood, stainless steel or something else (maybe I forgot something). And why? Thanks :)


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Stainless. Because it works, is low-maintenance, can handle any temperature it's going to encounter, and lasts forever.

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I'm with paulraphael on this.


Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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Wood, Melamine, Stainless Steel - in that order.


Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

 

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Platinum.

 

:laugh:  But only if we get free samples.

 

Tongs, skimmer, ladle = stainless steel

solid spoon = wood or melamine

slotted spoon = stainless steel or melamine

spaghetti server = wood

turners = stainless or plastic or nylon, depending


Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and their readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

 

"A vasectomy might cost as much as a year’s worth of ice cream, but that doesn’t mean it’s equally enjoyable." -Ezra Dyer, NY Times

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what Alex said.

 

Except I prefer stainless for a spaghetti server. a wood spoon gets dipped in soups and such, and thus can stay adequately oiled up in the course of use. a spaghetti server is only used in water, and seems to me a wooden one would need a bit of maintenance now and then to avoid drying out. My stainless spaghetti server is about as low-maintenance as I can imagine.

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Stainless for pretty much everything. I like to have a wooden spoon/scraper for cooking on enameled cast iron and non-stick surfaces. Same goes for turners... I like stainless for most applications but have a Matfer turner made of polyamid plastic that I use with my nonstick pan. I only use nonstick for cooking eggs and some types of fish, so 95% of the time I'm reaching for stainless.

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One non-stainless thing I love is bamboo flat spatulas. I have ones like these in a couple of sizes, and haven't had a wooden spoon (something I don't understand) in about 10 years.

 

These spatulas are great for stirring and are the best things I've ever used for scraping a pan while deglazing.

 

I also like the Matfer plastic fish spatula, which is handy about once a month when I use a nonstick pan.


Edited by paulraphael (log)

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I have a lot of metal pans that can be scraped, but I also have a lot of pans with nonstick coating that need more general treatment. Consequently I have just about everything in double sets (at least) to accommodate either type of cookware.

Spoons and ladles I have in stainless, nylon, wood and melamine. Which one I use depends partly on the pan surface but mostly on the curvature that I need: sometimes a broad, shallow spoon is best for getting all the corners, and other times I need a deeper bowl. I think my favorite spoon is a melamine slotted spoon I picked up years ago: it's as rigid as any metal spoon, can't scratch any surface of mine, is just the exact right shape - a very subjective issue - and is a cheerful yellow. I wish I'd picked up an extra, and its solid-spoon mate, when I bought this. I've been on a search for years to find something I liked as well.

Turners I have in stainless, nylon and melamine. I hate the nylon because it's either too thin to be rigid or so thick that it's rigid but difficult to get under the food in question. The melamine is much better than the nylon, but it doesn't have a truly straight edge for good pan scraping. Here are two design choices I'd recommend: provide a blunt (squared) edge opposite the handle so the turner can also scrape a pan bottom, and provide a choice in both slotted and solid turner. Sometimes the solid is needed because slots or holes will get gunked up - say, when cooking eggs.

You didn't ask about spatulas, as in soft scrapers, but I'll comment anyway: mine are made of wood, silicone or older-style rubber. I love, love, love my silicone spatulas because they're gentle on any surface and will stand up to heat. I'll never forget the first (and only) time I tried to make caramel with a standard rubber spatula, only to find white streaks appearing in the mixture.

My tongs are all metal, but I have some with a silicone coating on the gripper so that they can't damage the pan.

My pasta server, if I still have it, is melamine. I don't use it often, preferring tongs or a slotted spoon.

My skimmer is metal, but I rarely use it. I prefer metal to plastic for removing greases because the greases release more readily from metal than from plastics.


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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If we are going to talk about silicone and spatulas, then I have to post a word about my favorite spatulas, the Trudeau one piece silicone in various sizes and shapes.  Love, love, love them.

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Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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Wow, thanks everyone. A lot of interesting information. Going to research melamine and bamboo more. Also the problem with water and wood for spaghetti server is spot on, and a lot of interesting facts about maintenance and flexibility.

 

I had a question. I posted a survey with the same questions, and one thing I cannot figure out is why plastic score so high with ladle. Even as high as the turner (but that was expected because of the frequent use non-stick coating).

 

Plastic (Nylon) 32%

Silicone 14%

Wood 2%

Stainless Steel 53%

Other 0%

 

I thought the most of the pots you prepare soup etc in are not non-stick? Or is that a wrong assumption? Or am I missing something else?


Edited by S_AndPepper (log)

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I hate plastic, i prefer wood and stainless steel but that is because I am old fashion and use cast iron for my skillets and my dutch oven  and the rest is stainless steel.   I dont know any one who has a   nonstick pan that is over  10 years old and still working nor can it environmentally sound to use  that much plastic, it ends up in our  food change. I love my pancake skillet even if is 100 years old ( yeap just had its birthday) and I adore  my 40- 50 year old  skillet , still works as well as did for my father as it does for me and my dutch oven is pushing 60 and doing well.


Cheese is you friend, Cheese will take care of you, Cheese will never betray you, But blue mold will kill me.

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I have a lot of metal pans that can be scraped, but I also have a lot of pans with nonstick coating that need more general treatment. Consequently I have just about everything in double sets (at least) to accommodate either type of cookware.

Spoons and ladles I have in stainless, nylon, wood and melamine. Which one I use depends partly on the pan surface but mostly on the curvature that I need: sometimes a broad, shallow spoon is best for getting all the corners, and other times I need a deeper bowl. I think my favorite spoon is a melamine slotted spoon I picked up years ago: it's as rigid as any metal spoon, can't scratch any surface of mine, is just the exact right shape - a very subjective issue - and is a cheerful yellow. I wish I'd picked up an extra, and its solid-spoon mate, when I bought this. I've been on a search for years to find something I liked as well.

Turners I have in stainless, nylon and melamine. I hate the nylon because it's either too thin to be rigid or so thick that it's rigid but difficult to get under the food in question. The melamine is much better than the nylon, but it doesn't have a truly straight edge for good pan scraping. Here are two design choices I'd recommend: provide a blunt (squared) edge opposite the handle so the turner can also scrape a pan bottom, and provide a choice in both slotted and solid turner. Sometimes the solid is needed because slots or holes will get gunked up - say, when cooking eggs.

You didn't ask about spatulas, as in soft scrapers, but I'll comment anyway: mine are made of wood, silicone or older-style rubber. I love, love, love my silicone spatulas because they're gentle on any surface and will stand up to heat. I'll never forget the first (and only) time I tried to make caramel with a standard rubber spatula, only to find white streaks appearing in the mixture.

My tongs are all metal, but I have some with a silicone coating on the gripper so that they can't damage the pan.

My pasta server, if I still have it, is melamine. I don't use it often, preferring tongs or a slotted spoon.

My skimmer is metal, but I rarely use it. I prefer metal to plastic for removing greases because the greases release more readily from metal than from plastics.

This is gold, thanks :) To be sure, with blunt you mean something dull right (the top is sharp I presume)? Are sharp edges not good for scraping pans? And with opposite of the handle you mean the left and right side? Is there a problem with the the no slotted one that is gets suction if you want to turn eggs? Or is that not a problem?

 

Thanks everyone :) This is really helping me out.


Edited by S_AndPepper (log)

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I should mention that some items work just fine in 100% steel, like spaghetti servers -although I rarely use one.

 

However, some items, if used in deep frying or just in/around heat for a while, must have an insulated handle of some sort -wood, silicone, etc. I wouldn't want to deep fry with a 100% steel skimmer.

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I thought the most of the pots you prepare soup etc in are not non-stick? Or is that a wrong assumption? Or am I missing something else?

 

Erroneous assumption.  In the for-what-it's-worth department, I don't have a single non-stick pot, preferring clad stainless and enameled cast iron for making soup, stew, etc.  The only non-stick in my cookware collection are two skillets, same brand, different sizes.

 

I use bamboo spoons and spatulas a lot - don't have a single wooden utensil - and a stainless spaghetti fork (only because I got it as a premium with a stock pot - used it once), and I use both a nylon and a stainless ladle, stainless tongs with a nylon tip, and both stainless and nylon spatula/turners, and a nice, silicone spatula for most of my stirring.


Edited by Shel_B (log)

 ... Shel

"... ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself "

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I thought the most of the pots you prepare soup etc in are not non-stick? Or is that a wrong assumption? Or am I missing something else?

I had to read that several times to see that you'd written not non-stick. ;-) I think that most soup and stew pots do not have non-stick interiors, but I know of some exceptions; my camping soup pot is nonstick because it's lightweight and I picked it up for a song at a garage sale. I still use a metal ladle, because the ladle doesn't scrape the bottom of the pot. At home I use stainless steel pots. I can see the value of a plastic / melamine ladle to protect the surface of, say, a nonstick shallow pan or wok containing a thick sauce. Maybe others will chime in here to explain their use of plastic ladles.

You also asked about my design criteria on turners. I'm waiting until I can post a few pictures or sketches, to make everything clear; it'll be a day or three. :-)


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I had to read that several times to see that you'd written not non-stick. ;-) I think that most soup and stew pots do not have non-stick interiors, but I know of some exceptions; my camping soup pot is nonstick because it's lightweight and I picked it up for a song at a garage sale. I still use a metal ladle, because the ladle doesn't scrape the bottom of the pot. At home I use stainless steel pots. I can see the value of a plastic / melamine ladle to protect the surface of, say, a nonstick shallow pan or wok containing a thick sauce. Maybe others will chime in here to explain their use of plastic ladles.

You also asked about my design criteria on turners. I'm waiting until I can post a few pictures or sketches, to make everything clear; it'll be a day or three. :-)

If you could do that Nancy, that would be great :) Thanks!

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90% of my kitchen utensils are wood. I have a huge variety of wooden spoons and wooden spatulas/scrapers in different sizes.

 

I just love the way it feels in my hands and the way it integrates with the ingredients and the surfaces of the pots.

 

About the only time I use a metal spoon for stirring is in high-heat wok cooking. A metal ladle when needed. Slotted spoons and spiders for draining. For the rest - wood.

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This is gold, thanks :) To be sure, with blunt you mean something dull right (the top is sharp I presume)? Are sharp edges not good for scraping pans? And with opposite of the handle you mean the left and right side? Is there a problem with the the no slotted one that is gets suction if you want to turn eggs? Or is that not a problem?

Thanks everyone :) This is really helping me out.

Here's what I mean about my preferred turners. Note that I use these for turning meats in pans, and for scraping the bottom of said pans during the cooking; none of these is ideal as a fish-turner although I use them that way anyway. I generally use these for pan-frying, sauteeing and sweating vegetables: any time I want to be able to scrape the bottom of the pan to get every last bit up into the finished dish, I use one of these.

Turners.jpg

The turners* at left and right are made of nylon or a similar heat-resistant plastic. Note that the bottom edges (what I referred to as the edge away from the handle) are rounded, not straight. You can see that they only make contact with the board in a very small area - less than 1 cm on the black turner. That may give a slight advantage for getting under something that's flat in the pan, because the slight arc allows a more gradual entry under the material in question. It's terrible for trying to deglaze a pan and scrape up the browned bits; because of the small contact area I have to make multiple passes to get the entire pan bottom. The center turner is flat along the edge in question. It cleans a good 12 - 13 cm worth of the pan bottom in one pass. I haven't had trouble using it to get under meat that I'm trying to turn, so I'm not sure that the 'arc' in the other two is useful, really. This particular turner is my favorite, but because it's metal I can't use it in a nonstick pan.

There is also a design question to be considered as to the radius of the corner curvatures - in this picture, the bottom left and right corners of each turner. A very square corner can't get into the rounded corners of a pan (where it goes from the flat base to the sides) without potentially scratching; too shallow of a curve makes it difficult to get into the corners at all. In this respect, the blue turner on the right comes closest to ideal for me.

A third design question that I may have touched on is the thickness of each turner: in this picture, from front to back. If a turner is too thick it's difficult to get it under something to be turned; if it's too thin, it's too flexible for my purposes. The blue one at the right is almost too thick, but its width (side-to-side in this photo) makes it the best choice for certain purposes.

Each of these turners has a use in my kitchen. I generally use the metal (center) turner on my stainless or cast iron pans and the left (black) turner on my nonstick pans. The larger surface area of the right (blue) turner makes it the best choice to support and turn large items such as large cuts of meat, bread, pancakes, or fish.

As for eggs: all three of these turners have slots or holes. Those are traps for scrambled eggs, sticky sauces and brown bits. They're especially annoying with scrambled eggs. For that reason I'd like to find a turner or two with a solid surface. I used to have some, but they suffered from being too flexible to be good at turning things or too sharply-cornered to be effective in the pan corners, so I gave them away.

I hope this is helpful. Sometimes I go on at great length, only to find I've baffled the listener. If it isn't clear, ask again. :smile:

*Actually, I usually call them spatulas but I'm trying to distinguish them from the soft rubber bowl-scraping spatulas.

Edited to add: When I had solid-surface turners, I did not have trouble with suction making it difficult to release food. Is that supposed to be the reason for those slots and holes?

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Dear Smithy, I found myself nodding in agreement with your post.  Your troubles are my troubles also.  However, we don't use non-stick pans so that part is not serious.

 

Our current problem is gritting our teeth and purchasing a second one of your 'Turner in the Center'.  The good metal ones are not inexpensive and although DH has faithfully looked for one in our local second hand stores, the good ones are not to be found.  So actually today is D Day for metal turners and we will buy a second one.  I just can't manage with one with both of us cooking.  Turner #1 is constantly in the dishwasher when I suddenly need it. 

A sad story I know, but that's life. :sad:

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Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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Here's what I mean about my preferred turners. Note that I use these for turning meats in pans, and for scraping the bottom of said pans during the cooking; none of these is ideal as a fish-turner although I use them that way anyway. I generally use these for pan-frying, sauteeing and sweating vegetables: any time I want to be able to scrape the bottom of the pan to get every last bit up into the finished dish, I use one of these.

attachicon.gifTurners.jpg

The turners* at left and right are made of nylon or a similar heat-resistant plastic. Note that the bottom edges (what I referred to as the edge away from the handle) are rounded, not straight. You can see that they only make contact with the board in a very small area - less than 1 cm on the black turner. That may give a slight advantage for getting under something that's flat in the pan, because the slight arc allows a more gradual entry under the material in question. It's terrible for trying to deglaze a pan and scrape up the browned bits; because of the small contact area I have to make multiple passes to get the entire pan bottom. The center turner is flat along the edge in question. It cleans a good 12 - 13 cm worth of the pan bottom in one pass. I haven't had trouble using it to get under meat that I'm trying to turn, so I'm not sure that the 'arc' in the other two is useful, really. This particular turner is my favorite, but because it's metal I can't use it in a nonstick pan.

There is also a design question to be considered as to the radius of the corner curvatures - in this picture, the bottom left and right corners of each turner. A very square corner can't get into the rounded corners of a pan (where it goes from the flat base to the sides) without potentially scratching; too shallow of a curve makes it difficult to get into the corners at all. In this respect, the blue turner on the right comes closest to ideal for me.

A third design question that I may have touched on is the thickness of each turner: in this picture, from front to back. If a turner is too thick it's difficult to get it under something to be turned; if it's too thin, it's too flexible for my purposes. The blue one at the right is almost too thick, but its width (side-to-side in this photo) makes it the best choice for certain purposes.

Each of these turners has a use in my kitchen. I generally use the metal (center) turner on my stainless or cast iron pans and the left (black) turner on my nonstick pans. The larger surface area of the right (blue) turner makes it the best choice to support and turn large items such as large cuts of meat, bread, pancakes, or fish.

As for eggs: all three of these turners have slots or holes. Those are traps for scrambled eggs, sticky sauces and brown bits. They're especially annoying with scrambled eggs. For that reason I'd like to find a turner or two with a solid surface. I used to have some, but they suffered from being too flexible to be good at turning things or too sharply-cornered to be effective in the pan corners, so I gave them away.

I hope this is helpful. Sometimes I go on at great length, only to find I've baffled the listener. If it isn't clear, ask again. :smile:

*Actually, I usually call them spatulas but I'm trying to distinguish them from the soft rubber bowl-scraping spatulas.

Edited to add: When I had solid-surface turners, I did not have trouble with suction making it difficult to release food. Is that supposed to be the reason for those slots and holes?

Thanks for info Nancy :) Especially the deglazing part and the corner curvature are very interesting, I should try it out with a few turners. The slots are, I think, for less suction to the pan (I read other people complaining about this in another forum), a minimal contact surface (so less friction that can destroy delicate food) and to drip out liquids (oil for example).

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