Quick Recipes and Easy

Oven Mitts – Space-Age Materials for Safer Cooking

It is Thanksgiving morning and an absolutely gorgeous autumn day. Even though it is cold, the sun is bright brightly and the kids are bursting with energy. But, you have been in the kitchen since 5 a.m. and it is getting dreadfully warm in there. Perspiration is dripping down your face, splashing on your arms. Suddenly, you see smoke seeping out of the oven and the smoke alarm has begun its insistent and annoying blare. Uh, uh. Your magnificent 20-pound turkey is not getting golden brown – it is well on its way to becoming midnight black. Not excellent. You frantically search for your oven mitts – you know, the ones that have burn holes all over them. But the holes are a moot point because your two dogs have snatched the mitts off the kitchen table. Oh, boy! A new chew toy! They are off and running, shooting through the doggie door and to their favorite digging sites in the yard. You stand there, in front of the oven, wondering what to use to retrieve your turkey and the very expensive roasting pan under it before the oven explodes. You just stand there really stunned. It is time to load up on oven mitts – quickly!

Sounds familiar? Perhaps your situation is not quite so frantic. But, it is right. Where are the intact oven mitts when you need them?

There are many different types of oven mitts available today. It all depends on what features you are searching for in a mitt. What to buy? Which material? How long? What special features?

Probably the most fascinating and unusual oven mitts are made of the versatile space-age Silicone. They boast of so many advantages: they are waterproof; repel stains; have simple cleanup; can be thrown in the dishwasher with your other dirty kitchen gadgets; and can withstand very high temperatures anywhere from 280º F ( 138º C) to over 600º F (316ºC). Besides that , they are really nifty to play with – they are so flexible you can bend them in practically any position your hand can go.

Silicone oven mitts are so protective that you can plunge your mitt-clad hand directly into a stock pot of boiling water to retrieve a bobbing ear of corn on the cob. That could be very painful, to say the least, with an ordinary cloth oven mitt that you might buy at a grocery store. You have greater sense of touch because of the thinness of the silicone. Because silicone repels water, there is much less of a chance of receiving scald burns. Oil also is repelled with the silicone mitts.

Mitts of silicone come in all sorts of shapes and colors. I am like a small kid when I see a store show of these wonders. Such fantastic colors – black to white with nearly every color in between. For the kid in you, they also come in animal shapes, such as a dog’s or frog’s head. Some mitts have ridges on the underside of your hand to help grab heavy items. They come in varying lengths which cover mid-arm to elbow so you will not get burned reaching deep into the oven. Some enterprising person even designed tiny silicone finger protectors.

Silicone oven mitts tend to be rather expensive, especially since most of them seem to be only available as a single glove rather than a pair. I have seen listed prices ranging from about $15.95 to $29.95 per glove. If the glove does not burn you the prices certainly will!

Quilted oven mitts can be coated with a silicone spray on the outside and have fabric insulation on the inside. These mitts can be compared to a conventional oven mitt.

Some oven mitts are made of Neoprene, the same material used to make wetsuits. They are safe up to about 400ºF (204ºC) and can safely go through either the washing machine or the dishwasher.

Next are the type of fabric oven mitts your mother used. Quilted on the outside, they are generally lined with cotton on the inside. They are always designed so that one glove can be used on either hand.

If you search long enough online you might be able to find oven mitts made of hemp. Most of them are made of pesticide- and chemical-free hemp, in Romania. Another unusual oven mitt can be made by following a knitting pattern with 100% cotton yarn. I do not know about you, but I do know I value my fingers far too much to use non-heat retardant gloves. Maybe these knit mitts would look better showed on a kitchen wall.

You can find all sorts of kitchen gadgets made from all of the above-discussed materials. Not only are there silicone oven mitts – you could go crazy looking at silicone baking mats to line your cookie sheets, vibrantly colored place mats, spatulas, whisks, and all sorts of bakeware.

Delight in your space-age oven mitts. Remember, they are not your grandma’s daintily crocheted pot holders.

Terry Kaufman is Chief Editorial Writer for niftykitchen.com/ niftykitchen.com, niftyhomebar.com/ niftyhomebar.com, and niftygarden.com/ niftygarden.com.

©2006 Terry Kaufman.

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