Whisks are used for blending, whipping, incorporating air and eliminating lumps in food. There are several different types of whisks, each with their own purpose.
Also called piano whisks, these are large and rounder at the end, designed mainly for beating anything light in which the emphasis is to introduce a great deal of air, like for whipping egg whites and cream.
The most efficient way to use a balloon (or sauce) whisk is a side-to-side motion, in comparison to a circular or up-and-down motion. The reason side-to-side works so well is the motion itself is easier to execute quickly and aggressively. Allowing you to preform more strokes per minute, completing the task in half the time as the other methods.
Also called French whisks, these tapered whisks are narrower than balloon whisks and used for heavier-duty beating where the primary use is for blending and emulsifying sauces rather than aerating ingredients.
If you only wanted one whisk in your kitchen, either the balloon or sauce whisk would work as an all-purpose whisk.
The flat angled shape of this whisk makes them ideal for using in a skillet or roasting pan, allowing you to get into the sides and along the bottom of the pan, which makes it able to blend a roux or a silky smooth pan gravy. They are also useful for lifting poached eggs out of simmering water. An alternative to a flat whisk is a bubble whisk.
What to look for when buying
- For balloon whisks, the higher the number of wires, the more streams of air it can pull through liquid, and the better and faster it will be at whipping. Those with 10-12 wires produce the most efficient results, while those with less will take twice as long to whip to the same consistency.
- Wire size will affect how easy the whisk is to use. Thinner wires allow you to whip longer with less fatigue. Although wires that are too thin can be hard to use when making pan sauces, ask the wires will pass over the browned bits rather than scraping them up. The best all purpose size would be wires of 1.3 to 1.4 millimeters.
- The handle must be smooth and comfortable to grip. Those with a loop on the end (meant to be hung for storage) can get in the way and be awkward to hold in some positions.
- Use silicone coated for use in non-stick pots, and stainless steel wire whisks for all other uses.
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