Size. Materials. Thickness. And why the design of the spatula flips food so well.
The spatula is a simple example of flipping good design. It is used in the kitchen to flip pancakes, fillets, steaks, burgers and crab cakes. The design elements that make the spatula such a great tool for flipping are a thin front edge, a big head, shape and slots, and choice of materials.
Thin Edge, Big Head, Slots
According to The America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School,
“A thin front edge will glide under food without tearing it, while a large head.. will hold even big items… [while] long vertical slots let excess grease drip away.”
The handle of a spatula is typically made of wood and plastic. Wood and plastic are both thermal insulators i.e. heat does not flow as readily. This protects our hands, from the high heat usually used in cooking foods mentioned earlier, as we are flipping and turning the foods.
The head of the spatula could be made of metal or plastic. These can be used on the pans we usually find in a kitchen. With the increasing use of non-stick pans though (read all about non-stick pans and materials in the 1-Minute NomNom “Single but unavailable“), care must be taken that the spatula does not scratch the non-stick coating.
Such spatulas are thus typically made of silicone, which are…
“… polymers that include any inert, synthetic compound made up of repeating units of siloxane, which is a chain of alternating silicon atoms and oxygen atoms… [and] is becoming an important product in the cookware industry, particularly bakeware and kitchen utensils.” (Source: Wikipedia)
Materials, thickness, size, and shape, these are common considerations in the design of any product. The spatula provides a simple example of how these can be combined to create a very useful tool that cooks delicious dishes. That’s flipping cool!
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photos: in order – depositphotos/belchonock; dlpn; arvebettum; Kuzmichtudio; By Sei [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons; belchonock