Stir It Up

I have a kitchen confession to make: I use dog bowls as mixing bowls when I run short at home. They’re good because they’re stainless steel—and pristinely clean of course—but they have flat bottoms that hide pockets of dry ingredients in batter. Another problem is the distraction of my dog staring, wondering what surprise treat she’s going to get.

When shopping for actual mixing bowls, consider that glass and ceramic are heavy and will chip and break. Plastic will scratch, as well as retain and release odors and tastes.

I don’t like mixing bowls covered around the base with a no-slip grip, because I want to be able to turn my bowl while whisking or folding. If I need a grip, I just throw down a damp kitchen towel or a silicone potholder.

Stainless steel, copper, and silicone are all good options. Stainless steel is inexpensive, lightweight, durable, and nonreactive. You can also use stainless steel bowls as simple double boilers over a pot of simmering water for tempering chocolate or making sauces.

Copper is long lasting and useful for when you actually want the metal’s ions to react with ingredients, most commonly while whipping egg whites.

Flexible, heat-resistant silicone mixing bowls are new on the market, and they bring some unique features to the kitchen table.

Heavy-Duty Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls (1/2 to 80 Quart)
By Vollrath, $6.63–$1,074.45

Vollrath, manufacturer of industry-standard stainless steel goods, produces these heavy-gauge yet lightweight stainless steel mixing bowls. Rolled rims make them easy to handle, and the satin finish is scratch and stain resistant. The various sizes, ranging from a 1/2 quart to a massive 80 quarts, nest for storage. They’re flat on the bottom and slightly weighted to sit securely on a countertop. If for some reason you ever need the 80-quart, you can be assured that it actually has a rounded base, so nothing will get left behind, unmixed, at the very bottom. The bowls are dishwasher safe—if you have a dishwasher large enough.

Copper Mixing Bowls (2.7 to 27 Quart)
By Mauviel, $69.95–$374.95

Monsieur Ernest Mauviel established his French copper cookware company back in 1830, in the Normandy town of Villedieu-les-Poêles, known for its copperware since the 12th century. Mauviel is widely considered the gold standard in copper cookware. While its products can last several lifetimes, they are a relatively expensive investment.

Mauviel copper bowls are unlined, as copper bowls should be, so they can react with their contents. They’re completely rounded inside and out, so there aren’t any corners your whisk can’t reach and they will turn easily while whipping. The bowls are available with a single ring or with two handles. They must be hand washed and occasionally polished to restore their luster.

Of course you don’t need a copper bowl to whip egg whites, but there is a noticeable difference in speed, shine, and volume. According to Harold McGee, the bowl’s copper ions react with the egg white proteins, quickly creating a stable foam that retains its moisture, so you have a bowl of glossy fluff. It’s not a huge difference, but it is an absolute pleasure to work with one of these bowls, from their gorgeous good looks to how a whisk sounds against them.

Flex-It Flexible Silicone Bowls (Set of Three: 1, 1 1/2, and 2 Quart)
By iSi, $44.95

These are the first large versions of the small silicone prep bowls manufactured by iSi, the company made famous by Ferran Adrià for its foamers.

The bowls can go from freezer or fridge to oven—including microwave—plus they’re dishwasher safe. They’re heat resistant to 490 degrees Fahrenheit.

With one squeeze of the hand, the flexible rim will form a spout so you can pour wet or dry ingredients cleanly into tight spots like muffin cups, a food processor chute, directly into a running stand mixer bowl (set on slow), or the channels of a Baker’s Edge pan.

The base is more rigid to provide stability. The inside of the bowl is slick and rounded, while the outside is slightly grippy for easier handling.

These bowls are absolutely fantastic for chocolate work, heating in the microwave, and insulating as well.

The three sizes are sold separately or as a set, in three colors (white, red, and “wasabi” green).

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