Obviously, since human skin is not made to withstand very high temperatures, no cook in the world can live without oven mitts. But when in front of the displays at any kitchen store, it is easy to get lost among all of the choices available. If you get a more expensive mitt, will it protect your hands better from the heat? In the Cutting Boards USA kitchens, we tested and tried different kinds of mitts and potholders over the years. I won’t recommend you a specific brand or model, but will mostly outline the characteristics to look for when you buy oven mitts.
We all had a pair of fabric mitts at one point. These are the easiest to find and the cheapest in pretty much every retail store, in kitchen supplies stores, or even at the dollar store. Depending on the quality of the fabric used, and if there is a layer of a special fabric inside to reflect the heat outside of the mitt, they will offer little to a good protection to your fingers when you get searing hot pans out of the oven. Most are not meant to be worn for long anyways. It always helps to plan where you’ll put your pan down when you get it out form the oven, either on the stovetop or on a wood cutting board to protect your countertop. Remember, most fabrics are flammable, even though they have been treated. The treatment only means it will take longer for them to catch fire.
One of the main advantages to use a wood cutting board to protect your surfaces is that it offers a larger area than most trivets or potholders, hence making sure that your food is cooling on a stable surface. It is safer. Burn marks won’t show as much if you choose a walnut cutting board, which is darker.
On the downside, fabric mittens often get stained and charred because of the heat, and it is pretty much impossible to clean them completely. The easiest way to get around this is to throw them away and get a new pair.
There are different sizes available everywhere, from the big ones that will protect your forearms up to the elbow, to the smaller potholders that are just a square.
Silicone mitts have been very popular lately. They offer flexibility, and are thinner than fabric mitts. They are easier to clean and won’t get charred the way fabric mitts do. Depending of the quality of the silicone they are made of, they will offer, on average, a moderate protection for your skin.
They’re also offered in different sizes to accommodate your preferences, and are slightly most expensive than the fabric styles.
No matter what kind of mitts you use, there is always a danger to get burned when you get things out of the oven. Personally, I prefer fabric mitts over silicone ones or the ones with features that promise wonders. Just look for a better quality fabric, and ones that will allow you to have a good grip to remove pans safely from the oven. I found out that most of the time, paying more than $10 for a pair doesn’t make a difference, although many will disagree with me. The best way to find out what you prefer is to try different styles… Happy cooking!