Cooking food requires several things: the raw ingredients that will be cooked, the utensils and appliances to prepare them, and the cookware to cook them in. Cooking spatulas come in handy throughout the whole process, as there are types available that are suited for either preparation or cooking. Continue reading to learn more!
What are cooking spatulas?
A spatula is a long handle that extends into a broad, flat blade, which is blunt and can be flexible. A spatula that is designed for cooking is a hand-held kitchen utensil that can be used to mix and spread ingredients, as well as lift and flip food as it is being cooked. Its long handle is meant to keep the holder’s hand away from what is being spread or lifted over a hot surface, while its blade is wide and thin to allow for a wide surface area which makes spreading or lifting food easier.
When was it invented?
It is not quite clear when it was exactly invented and by whom. The cooking utensil has a past, but one that is not well documented.
The word ‘spatula’ has been used in the English language since 1525 to describe a small tool with a broad and flat blade. It is similar to the word ‘spade’, which describes a digging tool.
The spatula may have come about in either three ways. The first possibility is by a Roman physician named Galen in the second century, who created it for medical purposes by mixing pharmaceutical preparations and spreading ointments. The second possibility is that it was invented by Horace Spatula in 1798 as a tool to kill common house flies. The last possibility is John Spaduala inventing it in the 1890’s, as a way of continuing to cook food in the kitchen of Hans Kruger, where he worked, when one of his hands had become almost ‘unusable’ as a result of a kitchen accident.
What is the history behind its name?
The spatula goes by many names, depending on the country one is in and what food is being prepared, some of which include ‘fish slice’, ‘flipper’, ‘tosser’, ‘egg flipper’, and ‘scraper’.
The etymology of the word ‘spatula’ itself is derived from the Greek word spathe and the Latin word spatha, both referring to long swords that are often with broad blades. The word had also gone under several transformations in spelling and pronunciation; the origin of the word spay, meaning to ‘cut with a sword’, was then added with the diminutive suffix “-ula”, which means ‘little sword’, hence arriving to the modern word we have all become familiar with: spatula. In a way, this makes the spatula a kitchen sword!
What is the difference between a turner and a spatula?
A turner is what is commonly perceived by people when they are referring to a spatula; it is a kitchen utensil that has a broad, flat head attached to a long handle. Basically, when one refers to a spatula that is used to flip burgers on a grill, they are actually referring to a turner.
There is a variety of turners for different heat levels and kinds of food. There are turners that are designed uniquely in order to withstand contact from heated surfaces and fire, while some have an angled edge which allow for easy turning of food and a slotted surface to let liquids from food drain away easily.
What essentially differentiates the two is their use. Turners are basically the ‘grill spatulas‘.
What other kinds of spatulas are there?
A scraper can also be mistaken or referred to as a spatula. This tool is what is often used by bakers and cooks to scrape food from a surface, like getting dough from the inner walls of a bowl, or moving food from one place to another, like moving the dough onto a baking tray. A typical model for scrapers is to have a blade made from silicone or plastic shaped to have a straight edge on one side and a curved edge on the other. This makes it similar to a concave, spoon-like shape.
Another is a spreader, which can also be known as a ‘palette knife’. This is frequently used in baking, particularly for spreading frosting on cakes and other forms of dessert. A typical model for spreaders is to have a straight blade with a rounded tip.
Spatulas are also available outside of the kitchen; they can be used in a scientific laboratory setting, however in a different form and, obviously, for much different purposes. These medical instruments, such as microspatulas, are made of steel to prevent any reaction when it comes into contact with chemicals, powders or other medicinal ingredients and for withstanding heat.
What materials are used for spatulas?
The common materials used are plastic or metal, but wooden, rubber and silicone are used as well. Metal spatulas, for instance, tend to have an insulating material, such as rubber or a thick coat of plastic, wrapped around the end of their handles to prevent the user from getting burned when heat travels throughout the metal.
The best material for spatulas is perhaps silicone, as it is one of the most versatile material, handles high amounts of heat well, and does not scratch surfaces of pots or pans.
Can baking spatulas be used for stove-top cooking?
Although baking spatulas are designed typically for cold or room-temperature foods, they can be if they are heat-resistant, preferably one that can withstand temperatures of up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or more.
How should a spatula be cleaned, especially when it has stains that will not go away?
Rubber spatulas, especially if they have been heavily stained, can be cleaned with water that has been mixed with a cup of white vinegar. After the spatula has been soaked in the liquid mixture for around a minute, it should be scrubbed with a cleaning rug, then rinsed with hot water, and lastly dried with a clean cloth.
Silicone spatulas can also pick up stains which can be difficult to remove from just using soap and water. While soap can help break up and wash away oil, intense stains can only be removed by a stronger cleanser, such as a hydrogen peroxide or bleach solution. After soaking the silicone spatula in the strong solution, it should be rinsed with warm, soapy water.
Wooden spatulas should not be put into a dishwasher as the intense steam and hot water could disintegrate the wood. After use, the wooden spatula should be washed in hot, soapy water then dried with wiped dry with a clean cloth. To preserve wooden spatulas, a lemon slice can be rubbed along it when strong flavors have seeped into the wood and mineral oil can be applied to prevent the wood from drying out and cracking.
Stainless steel spatulas do not pick up stains quite easily, but may change color or rust after long periods of use. On a regular basis, they can be washed with soap and water, with a gentle sponge or cloth so as to not scrape the metal. For removing discoloration or stains, these spatulas can be washed in warm, soapy water with ¼ cup of vinegar or baking soda.
When should a spatula be replaced?
Spatulas tend to have a long life span and can be used for a while, as long as they cleaned and stored properly. Though, it is good to pay attention to the state of the spatulas; any signs of tear and wear, such as cracked or loose handles, warped surfaces, bad odor, or split wood, as well as irremovable stains would mean that they need to be replaced.
What are the best spatulas on the market?
The following list of top five recommended spatulas are taken from reviews made on Ezvid Wiki as per April 2020:
1. Get It Right Premium Spatula
For approximately $20, this spatula is a one-piece silicone spatula with no seams, holes, or cracks to prevent food from getting trapped, rendering the utensil unhygienic. Its blade is sharply-angled and the spatula is very sturdy and flexible at the same time, making it highly suitable for flipping pancakes, turning eggs, and even heavy meats.
2. Rubbermaid Commercial Spatula
For about $12, this is a spatula that is made for heavy-duty cooking and can withstand heat very well. It has a unique design with a notched edge to easily scrape food from the sides of bowls and pans without damaging them, as well as a molded tab that prevents it from coming into contact with counter-tops, minimizing cross-contamination. This model has a blade that is not easily stained as well, making it usable for many years.
3. Di Oro Living Set Scrapers
This set comes with three scrapers for a price of around $22. They are all heat resistant for temperatures up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit and come in seamless designs with stainless steel cores for added stability. The set includes two full-sized scrapers – one flat while the other has a ‘scooping’ surface – and one short scraper.
4. Wingo Medium Turner
This turner comes at a very low price tag of approximately $5 and it still delivers solid value for its price. It is capable of lifting heavy weights, making it suitable for turning meats, and features three beveled edges to make it easier for sliding beneath patties and other foods without risk of breaking the food apart.
5. Oxo Good Grips Restaurant Turner
This turner is very suited for the griddle as it has a large surface area and thin edges which allows for easy sliding underneath food. It has a nonslip rubber handle that offers comfort and balance to keep one’s hand from sliding down. This comes at a price of around $14.
Are there any eco-friendly spatulas?
Yes- these are spatulas that are made of wood or bamboo. These can be found under brands that promote responsible and sustainable logging and farming and focus on using recyclable packaging and materials.
Is having one really necessary?
This would depend on one’s cooking habits and needs. If a person prepares their own meals or bakes in their kitchen from time to time, having any kind of kitchen spatula would come in handy. Flipping something on a frying pan over a heated stove could still be done by using a fork or even by pan alone, such as when one flips pancakes, but using a spatula could help make the task easier.
Spatulas are great kitchen tools for whenever one is baking, cooking, or grilling. They come in various forms that can help flip food or scrape it off of flat surfaces that they have gotten stuck to, all while keeping its user away from any heat or mess thanks to their long handles. Spatulas can be made of various materials, each of which have their own unique way of care and strength. These kitchen tools are quite versatile and can be used for more than one purpose in cooking.
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- “The Spatula”, 2017, Medium, https://medium.com/@brockhdw/the-spatula-a54ef2ffbe81#:~:text=The%20spatula%20has%20a%20history,that%20the%20facts%20get%20sticky.
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- “Removing Stains from Silicone Spatulas”, Cook’s Illustrated, https://www.cooksillustrated.com/how_tos/8614-removing-stains-from-silicone-spatulas
- “How To Clean and Care for Wooden Utensils”, 2014, Apartment Therapy, https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-to-care-for-wooden-utensils-206883
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- “8 Different Types of Spatulas (How to Choose the Right One)”, Home Stratosphere, https://www.homestratosphere.com/types-of-spatulas/