Food52's Editorial Assistant (and college student) Brette Warshaw is curating her very own first kitchen -- and she needs your help. Today: choosing the right mixing bowls.
When you close your eyes and imagine a kitchen, what do you hear?
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I hear the low hiss of a sizzling pan; I hear the juicy whoosh of a slicing knife. I hear pots and pans clanging, someone shouting. Maybe there’s a loud crack somewhere, or a shatter, or a bubbling of laughter.
Without a doubt, though, I hear the sounds of mixing bowls: the whisking, the stirring, the stacking of them. I hear the whack of a wooden spoon against one, the soft rustle of chopped vegetables tossed into one; I hear the essential kitchen tasks that are done with them, in them, on them, around them.
Mixing bowls may not be sexy, or novel, or buzzworthy. But I can safely say this (and feel free to correct me): no kitchen can function without them.
Now, for the real question: what kind?
When it comes to mixing bowls, there are five (five!) main materials to consider: stainless steel, glass, ceramic, plastic, and copper.
Stainless steel is a workhorse – and cheap. For $34.95, I can get myself a set of six Chefs Essentials bowls that very well may last forever: ones I can clang and clash and whisk and whack to my heart’s content, and then stack them in a drawer at the end of the day. They are non-reactive, so they won’t make my food taste metallic-y – plus, I can hack a double boiler with them.
The one, small bummer: stainless steel just isn’t that pretty.
Glass and ceramic mixing bowls, on the other hand, can be gorgeous – and they can double as serving bowls. Multi-purposesisity (yes, I just made up that word) is prized in a First Kitchen. Why have two sets of bowls in a drawer when I can only have one? Why not serve my salad, or my aioli, or my side dish in the very bowl I mixed it in?
The answer: glass and ceramic are heavy. They chip. They can be pricey (a ceramic set of nesting bowls can set me back $60). And if I’m all about choosing tools to make me cook more – to get me into the kitchen, to make me experiment, to get dirty and worn and faded with time – I want bowls that won’t take bicep work to get at.
Plastic, like stainless steel, is light – and some, even, are collapsabile! (Whoa!) But plastic, unfortunately, absorbs odors and oils. And odorific, oily food happens to be my favorite.
The last material to consider? Copper. The most expensive of the materials – and the prettiest, of course – is perfect for whipping egg whites; the copper ions help the egg whites peak, and, well, it's a beautiful thing to have in a kitchen. But at $47.00 for a mere 2-quart-er, they may not be worth it – though it wouldn’t hurt to splurge for one, cute, tiny one. Right? Right?