Let’s Talk Spatulas

What the heck is a spatula?  You think you know, but then some calls it a turner.  Then someone calls it a scraping spoon.  All you know is that you want to make sure that you have the right ones and enough of them in your kitchen.

By definition, a spatula is a kitchen utensil that has a flat surface and a long handle.  The surface can be rubber, metal or silicone, although some are made from ceramic.  The handle can be wood, metal or silicone and usually has a grip surface at the end.  Confusion appears when you call a scraper a spatula, and at the same time call a turner a spatula.  Relax, both definitions are correct.

Spatula Scraper Versus Spatula Turner

Let’s start with a spatula scraper.  This utensil is usually made from rubber or silicone and is a flat surface at the end of a handle.  There is no bend in the handle, it is straight to make stirring and scraping easier.  There may be a spoon at the end of this tool but it is usually flat.  The end can be squared off or curved.

The other common option for a spatula is the turner.  You may call this a pancake turner or a hamburger flipper, but this utensil is also a spatula.  This kitchen too will differ from a flat spatula by having a bend in the handle, giving it a 45 degree tilt.  The bend in engineered into this piece to allow you to slide the flat surface under food, allowing you to flip of turn the food without breaking it up.  It is also used to remove food from a pan.  Spatula turners are made from metal (stainless steel or aluminum), silicone, rubber or wood.  Some pieces are made from ceramic but they tend to be more attractive than functional.

Choosing The Right Spatulas

Most kitchens have multiple spatulas on hand.  Regardless of how many you may have, there are a few features that you should look for when buying spatulas.  Prices for spatulas are usually low, a good spatula can be found for less than $10.  Still, you want to have quality kitchen tools to make your baking experience pleasant.

1.  Sturdy Handles and Shafts

Cheaper spatulas are notorious for having flimsy shafts and handles.  This isn’t a problem until you try to stir or scrape a heavy dough or batter.  Suddenly, the shaft bends or snaps, leaving you to scramble around to find another spatula.

2.  The Head Is Poorly Attached

You may have had this happen and you probably even remember the cheap spatula that you were using.  While stirring a thick batter, you notice that you are now holding just a stick in your hand.  The handle has completely separated from the head.  Now you get to fish out the spatula head that is buried in the batter, then find another spatula and start over again.  Cheap spatulas don’t use glue to attach the head to the shaft.  The head is just twisted onto the handle.

3.  Cheap Plastic Is Used To Make The Head

One nice thing about silicone or rubber kitchen utensils is that you can toss them into the dishwasher.  Yay-easy clean up!  Where problems arise is when, instead of rubber or silicone, a plastic compound is used.  After a few washings, this plastic discolors and can start to flake.  There is not a single recipe that calls for plastic flakes.

Buying A Spatula Set Make Sense

One of the best ways to have the right assortment of kitchen spatulas on hand is to buy a set.  Most sets will have a variety of spatulas, both stirring and turning styles.  The set pictured above has 14 kitchen utensils and an holder, and it can be purchased as Amazon for around $25.  As you become more experienced, you may want to invest in more elaborate spatulas.  Starting out, however, a well made set of kitchen utensils will give you a great assortment of kitchen tools for all of your baking needs.

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