Types: Cooking spoons and spatulas are used in the preparation, production and plating of foods.
Capacities/Footprints: Most spoons and spatulas are available in lengths varying from 90 to 180. Basting spoons can reach 210 in length. Spatulas, typically molded from a single piece of melamine plastic, are available in lengths of up to 240. Metal spatulas can be as small as 21/20 wide and 40 long or have blades as long as 180. Heavier-duty models can be up to 20 thick. Metal spatulas come in a variety of configurations to meet the requirements of various kitchen applications.
Manufacturing Method: Spoons can be made of stainless steel, stainless with plastic handles, aluminum, polycarbonate plastic or wood. Scoops, ladles, serving spoons, wide-mouth scoops, spoodles and basting spoons make up this category. Depending on their use, spoon products can have solid bowls or include slots or perforations. Wide-mouth scoops are made from stainless steel, aluminum alloy, or plastic, and can hold up to 2 qts. Some scoops have flat bottoms, offering greater precision. Ice cream scoops, or dishers, have sharpened edges and occasionally, self-defrosting elements to prevent sticking. Ice cream spades are flatter and used for scraping the scraps. Basting spoons have flatter, more oval shapes for even distribution. Spoodles look like deep-set soup spoons but can be perforated and have handle grips. They are used for portion control, as are most spoons, to meet dietary and cost requirements. Polyethylene products generally are unbreakable, durable and will not rust or dent.
Spatulas most often have rubber heads on plastic handles or can offer a head made of silicone capable of withstanding short periods of temperatures up to 500 °F. Heads can be molded with rounded edges all around or with a flat edge to allow smooth scraping of straight surfaces. Spatulas can also be molded with a spoon hollow to allow more efficient stirring and to alleviate the need for a separate spoon. High-heat turning spatulas are designed to work with nonstick cookware, and include slotted and solid heads. Spatulas further can be molded in one piece, thus minimizing the possibility of cross-contamination from foods stuck in seams or creases.
Stainless-steel spatulas, or turners, can have riveted wooden or molded-plastic handles. Round-head spatulas typically are used in pastry work; handles can be straight or raised with the blade at an angle to keep knuckles out of icings and batters. Operators use straight-edge triangular spatulas to scrape a surface clean. Handles for both spoons and spatulas may be one-piece or riveted or welded; some may have a perforation at the end for hanging on hooks.
Standard Features: Molded, heat-resistant spoon handles, some with a thumb notch are available, helping to ensure staff safety, as do finger grips. So-called “slip stopper” ledges prevent spoons from sliding into containers. Standard blades may be straight or offset; some are taper-ground for added flexibility. Heat-resistant varieties can be used at high temperatures for short periods. Some manufacturers' spatula blades are contoured and flexible for use scraping any shape container, and can retain their shapes even at high temperatures (200 °F. or more). Thermoplastic blades and strong polypropylene handles can be molded together to form a sanitary seal. A spatula with a standard blade notch makes scraping down sides of pans easier. At least one maker offers a spoon-shaped blade for easy spooning, scooping and spreading.
New Features/Technology/Options: Some manufacturers are producing heavier-duty turners with greater thickness and more rivets to offer better control than lighter models.
Key Kitchen Applications: Cooking spoons are used mostly for stirring, basting and portioning. Operators can use spatulas to scrape bowls to ensure thorough blending, to stir or blend foods in nonstick cookware while preventing damage to the coating, and to lift and turn foods without breakage or damage to their appearance. Offset spatulas can spread batters or icings, while flat-sided spatulas are most often used in pastry work to scrape chocolate.
Purchasing Guidelines: As with most smallwares, cooking spoons and spatulas are items that operators know they need. The price difference between a basic spoon or spatula and a high-end piece is incremental, and thus enhancements in the areas of reliability and food/staff safety are attained at minimal cost.
Maintenance Requirements: Spoons and spatulas are dishwasher-safe and so should be thoroughly cleaned after each use in appropriately hot water.
Food Safety & Sanitation Essentials: When placed down, these supplies' handles should lift blades or heads above a resting surface to reduce chances of cross-contamination. Plastic spoon products and scoops can sometimes come embedded with antimicrobials to ward off bacteria.