The oven mitt is a life-saver in the kitchen, allowing you to handle hot cookware without getting hurt
The oven mitt is a life-saver in the kitchen, allowing you to handle hot cookware without getting hurt

Watch most cooking shows and you are likely to spot veteran chefs armed with the multi-purpose dish towel. From handling spills to holding hot pots, these culinary kings count on the humble dish towel for a multitude of things. But to wield the dish towel to pick up hot kitchenware requires skills lesser mortals have yet to master. So, for the rest of us, the oven mitt is our best bet against burns in the kitchen.

In choosing the best hand protection for yourself, there are five questions you need to answer. Insidespells them out for you.

1. Is It Practical?

A good oven mitt needs to be wearable, washable, and durable. While they come in only one size, some just fit better than others. Sometimes an overly-padded oven mitt can insulate but also hamper movement. So, test out the oven mitt for mobility (can you open and close your hands with ease?) and grip (can pick things up properly and hold on to them?).

2. What Material Should the Oven Mitt be Made of?

The oven mitt has come a long way from the days of its American inventor, Earl Mitt, in the early 1870s. Then, the frequent baker used shoe leather held together with wool to protect himself from kitchen burns, having permanently disfigured his left hand in a baking accident.

Fabric gloves are the norm. Layered, quilted, and treated with flame retardant finishes, they can handle temperatures of up to over 90 degrees Celsius. They are ideal for picking up pots of hot food from the stove.

However, there are newer materials on the market. Silicone mitts have been making their rounds in modern kitchens. They are an improvement from conventional mitts because they provide better heat resistance (260 degree Celsius), are water proof, and stain less easily. Howards Storage World’s Mastrad Okra Plus Oven Mitts (S$42.95) are silicone oven mitts that come in cherry colours that can be as stylish as any conventional mitt. Silicone oven mitts may take a little getting used to though because they tend to feel stiffer than fabric mitts.

Another space-age material oven mitts now come in is neoprene, the material wet suits are made off. Neoprene oven mitts can withstand temperatures of up to 204.4 degree Celsius, making them great for picking up items from the oven which usually require cooking temperatures of 180 degrees Celsius.

3. How Far Do You Need Your Protection to Reach?

An oven mitt only protects the hands. If you need to reach into the oven or microwave, you may need something more to protect your forearms. The double oven mitts is your answer. This piece of protection is not two oven mitts but a single slip of insulated material covered at both ends with an oven mitt. This allows you to slip your hands into the mitts while having your forearms protected. Positioned properly, the double mitt also protects your body when you are carrying extra large pots or pans.

4. Fingers or Fingerless Mitts?

Most oven mitts are fingerless. But some prefer having mitts with fingers because it allows for better hand and finger mobility and, therefore, better grip of smaller items. Mitts with fingers tend to be used more for outdoor grilling so if you get one, you have the choice of using them indoors or outside.

5. Will a Potholder Do?

If you are not into heavy duty cooking or baking, maybe a potholder (S$9.95) or handle holder will do. These allow you to pick up hot pots of soup and stew, or hold on to a pan or wok without getting burnt. They are also easier to use because they do not require you to put them on and take them off.

This piece of kitchen protection may seem a simple thing. But properly chosen and used, can save you from burns, scalds, and other kitchen accidents while you cook up a storm. That is something to really get a grip on!

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