I am often shocked when I enter another human’s kitchen to find that they do not own a rubber spatula. Growing up, it seemed an essential tool in my mother’s kitchen doings. The rubber spatula, more than any other kitchen item, allowed for the reduction of waste.
Perhaps you don’t think that ‘waste’ is an issue to concern an 6-year-old kid — especially if you’ve actually spent time with one.
But when cookie batter is on the line, one pays attention. And when your mother picks up what appears to be an empty bowl and, using the rubber spatula, produces two or three spoonfuls of extra cookie dough…! Well, the status of the rubber spatula is bound to rise in the eyes of any six-year-old.
So when I moved into my new place, I was somewhat dismayed to find that the kitchen was not equipped with the standard rubber spatula, or a rubber spatula of any kind. And since my kitchen must be a place with ovens, stoves, double sinks, and rubber spatulas, I began the process of acquiring one.
This of course set me to contemplating spatula design. To be fair, many of the spatulas are not made from rubber, but from silicone, but it seems that the main way to verbally distinguish the baking (or ‘scraper’) spatula from ‘flipper’ spatula is to refer to it as a ‘rubber spatula’, be it made of rubber or otherwise.
Now some things have changed in the world of spatulas, since the days of my childhood — namely that there are now 3 different types of rubber spatulas. While all are appealing, I only cared to have one, and so I had to determine which would meet the broadest suite of needs most efficiently.
The Standard Scraper Spatula
It was very hard for me to veer away from this one. This is the one I grew up with, and the one that I’m most used to using. But that does not mean that it’s the best design. It certainly gets the job done, but perhaps there is room for improvement.
It is interesting that it is referred to as a ‘scraper’ — entirely accurate, since it scrapes the edge of a given bowl — but I strongly associate the verb ‘to scrape’ with, well (perhaps reasonably) the sound of scraping. The sound and the action are so closely associated with each other that the silent action of the rubber spatula makes it seem to be doing something other than scraping. What that occurrence is, exactly, perhaps opens up space for a new word in then English language.
The Mini Spatula
Also known as the Jar Scraper. This is more of a specialist tool, and therefore not particularly appealing. To be sure, with an extensive kitchen and unlimited space, I would perhaps be happy to have one. And perhaps it’s worth having — because it can do something the others cannot — do spatula work in more narrow receptacles. The loss in efficiency for larger receptacles, though, which would represent my primary needs, ultimately eliminate it as a viable option if I am committed to acquiring only one rubber spatula.
The Spatula Scoop
This new-fangled design (although I confess I don’t know how far it dates back. For all I know it could predate the ‘standard’ spatula. It’d new-fangled to me, because my mom didn’t have one). This looks as if it could do all the work of the standard spatula, just as well, but would have the added benefit of being able to hold what it scraped more efficiently.
I as on the fence with these two designs — the one that I was familiar and comfortable with, and the new one that held the possibility of being any better. I decided, in the end, to go with the scooper design because I decided that I would gain the added benefit of becoming practiced in this alternate design, and this was the only real way I could determine which one I really preferred. And, really, if it turned out that I really didn’t like it, and liked the standard better, I could always fork over another $3 and get the other one.
There is one more relevant consideration for the choosing of the spatula, and that is one of the handle and the blade. Now, many spatulas will have a detachable blade, which you might think is good for washing. And while this design is excellent for keeping the entirety of the handle clean, the sheath in the blade, in which the handle fits, is narrow and difficult to access. Meaning that you won’t really be able to clean the blade properly, and if you’re not going to do that, what does it matter how clean you keep the tip of the handle?
Luckilly, Pilsbury produces a one-piece design. That’s right, the whole spatula is only one piece! There is no handle/blade junction! The blade and hadle are one! How beautiful. And so it was that I acquired my new blue spatula.