What are spatulas?
Spatulas and turners help out cooks and bakers alike immensely in the kitchen when it comes to all things related to scraping, flipping, and spreading. Is there a difference between spatulas and turners or are they simply synonymous to one another? There is a slight difference between the two that you may not have paid much attention to before. A spatula is primarily used for spreading, stirring, and scraping creams or similar substances in the baking process. While a turner is used to flip anything from fillets of fish to pancakes on a hot pan or griddle.
The difference primarily lies in the shape of the non-sharp blade. They are both flat but with variations of curves at the edges where spatulas commonly imitate the shape of a large baking bowl or similar surface while a turner doesn’t. In the case of spatulas, some make the distinction between “spreaders” and “scrapers” where the former is relatively flat with a curve to one edge while the latter has an overall curve that resembles that of a spoon. If you are baking daily, it is recommended to opt for one of each, otherwise, you can opt for one over the other as the difference is minimal. This makes it easier to scrape cream from the bottom of a bowl and onto a cake. For baking purposes, you can often find a set of the various types of spatulas altogether instead of purchasing them separately. When you see them side-by-side, the difference will be apparent!
A turner, on the other hand, comes in a variety of styles with slotted or slit ones being the most popular. However, some turners are solid, as long as they are flat and thin enough to easily slip under what is cooking on the pan or griddle to flip it with ease or remove it from the heat. What is the benefit of a turner with slots as opposed to a solid one? The majority of the slots are either long and parallel or in the form of small ellipses which serve the purpose of allowing grease to slip through during flipping instead of collecting on the surface. A solid turner without slots is optimal for flipping pancakes for example since you don’t need to worry about draining grease or any other liquid during this process.
Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of all the different types of spatulas and turners you’ll encounter:
Scraper spatulas or spoonulas: These spatulas, typically made from silicone, have a slight curve to them resembling a spoon. This creates the ideal shape for scraping down bowls of cream or batter with ease and transporting them to another surface.
Spreader spatulas or cake spatulas: The difference between these and scraper spatulas seems minimal or non-existent at first sight, but the difference lies in the shape of the spatula head. The angled head of these spatulas makes it easier to lift cream from the bowl onto a cake and begin spreading it out. Certain models may even resemble the head of a butterknife for example.
Offset spatulas: These differ the most from other types of turners and spatulas,t hey have an angled, metallic blade that is optimal for icing pastries with ease. This is a must-have if you’re handling icing and frosting all day, but it isn’t for savory cooking.
Fish & omelet turners: These turners commonly fan out at the top more than regular turners to allow them to easily slip under what is being cooked with a steady grip. For cooking delicate meals such as fish fillets and omelets, this is an optimal choice to avoid tearing or falling off the turner. They also have slots or slits that allow the grease to effectively slip through during the cooking process.
Solid turners: Turners that are entirely solid without slots or slits are for anything that doesn’t necessarily need to be drained from liquid or grease during frying. These turners are mostly used to flip pancakes or anything similar.
What material should you consider for your spatula or turner? Spatulas and turners are all typically made of either steel, fiberglass, nylon, or silicone with steel and silicone being the most popular. In terms of which material to purchase, it primarily depends on the material of the cookware you will be using it along with. If you’ll be cooking on non-stick pans more often than not, then a metallic turner will quickly damage the Teflon, non-stick surface. In these cases, it’s better to opt for silicone alternatives. Or simply can opt for one of each to use accordingly with the type of pan if you have both in the kitchen. For scraping and spreading creams and custards, you’ll find spatulas made of silicone.
Advantages of Having Them
What are the advantages of having turners and spatulas in the kitchen? Simply put: It’s difficult to imagine certain elements of baking or frying without one! Imagine trying to flip a delicate cut of fish with a fork or knife only for it to flake everywhere. Unless you’re a pro at flipping the contents of the pan with a simple movement of the wrist, then chances are you need a spatula and a turner handy. The majority of spatulas and turners are heat resistant, causing no issue to have handy during high-heat situations in the kitchen. Even if you are considering stirring your favorite sauce over the heat with a silicone spatula, it’s completely doable. In the case of some brands of cake spatulas or spreaders, you will be able to remove the silicone head from the handle for easy cleaning.
Spatulas and turners are necessities in the kitchen, whether it’s for flipping eggs for a hearty, homemade breakfast or spreading frosting on cakes at a high-end bakery. Opt for the one that you know will be of great use to you the most at the moment or one of each if you’re a pro in the kitchen and make a variety of different dishes!