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While most kitchen ware suppliers offer an abundance of different mixing spoons, many people do not know why a particular material and shape may make one spoon better than another for a certain cooking task. Understanding the different types of mixing spoons and when they should be used can help anyone become a more capable cook. The four primary materials used to make mixing spoons are metal, plastic, wood, and silicone rubber. In addition to normal shapes, spoons may also be slotted or shaped like a paddle.
Metal mixing spoons are very common. Often, they are made from stainless steel, which provides high levels of sturdiness and durability. Metal spoons can be quite thin, and are thus useful for delicate mixing tasks, such as folding egg whites into batters or mousses. They can become dangerously hot very quickly, however, and users should thus take care to avoid leaving them in a pot or pan of food that is actively cooking.
Plastic mixing spoons are also widely available. Perhaps the greatest benefits of plastic mixing products are that they are usually budget-friendly, and may be sold in an array of pleasing colors. Of all mixing spoon materials, however, plastic is perhaps the least durable. Additionally, it can melt quite easily when left near a heat source.
Wooden mixing spoons are often both affordable and durable. In addition, they generally have a high heat resistance, and thus may be the best choice for stirring food as it cooks. On the down side, however, wood may be more porous than other spoon materials. If not washed properly after each use, therefore, it can transfer flavors or even bacteria from dish to dish.
Silicone rubber is another popular mixing spoon material. Generally, this type of spoon is not made entirely from silicone rubber, but rather consists of a silicone bowl on a plastic or wooden handle, or a plastic, metal, or wooden spoon which has been coated with silicone. In most cases, silicone is highly flexible, and spoons made with it are useful for scraping wet ingredients from the edges of bowls. It is often more heat-resistant than plastic.
Many mixing spoons resemble large-scale versions of tablespoons or teaspoons, but some vary in shape. For instance, some spoons’ bowls are perforated or slotted. This feature is useful when an ingredient must be strained as it is lifted out of a container, such as when whole eggs are removed from a pot of boiling water. Some mixing spoons’ bowls are paddle-shaped. This design is useful for scraping batter bowls, particularly when the paddle is made from silicone rubber.
I like wooden mixing spoons for everything, and I have yet to notice they transfer flavors to a dish. They are good for hot or cold foods, don't scratch nonstick surfaces and they last forever. They're also heat resistant, which makes them great for candy. My set has handles of three lengths, depending on what I’m mixing.
My other go-to mixing implement is a silicone scraper with a stainless steel handle. I think that thing could go through the apocalypse unscathed. That's what I use for folding, rather than a spoon.
In general, however, whether I'm stirring brownie batter or chili in a pot, I use wooden spoons.
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