A good whisk is indispensable in any serious cook’s kitchen but this is definitely not a case of ‘one size fits all’. Choosing the correct whisk (also known as a whip) for your intended purpose can make all the difference to your result. But they come in so many shapes and sizes so how do you choose which is the right one for the job?
Here's Milly’s guide to the most common whisk styles and what you should use them for, choose the one that fits your pot or bowl and feels like a comfortable extension of your hand.
Standard French Whisk
Also known as a straight whisk, these long, tapered versions with their slender heads and stiffer wires are not intended for whipping air into ingredients but more for smoothing and mixing batters and custards and emulsifying sauces. Milly’s has French whisks in both ‘light’ and ‘heavy’ styles. Choose the heavy for blending thick sauces, for mashing and blending coarse ingredients – jobs that need a bit of ‘muscle’
Large and round, these whisks are designed mainly for beating air into light ingredients like egg whites and cream with minimal effort or for blending dry ingredients (flour, baking, powder, spices etc). In fact, a good balloon whisk will add as much air to dry ingredients as putting them through a sifter. Try to make sure that your balloon whisk has thin, flexible wires (rather than the thicker wires of the standard whisk) for better aeration.
Flat or Roux Whisk
A Milly’s favourite. These less well known whisks are perfect for blending a roux for a white or other sauce but they really come into their own when deglazing a pan or making gravy. The widely spaced, flat wires lie flat on your pan to scrap up every last bit of delicious ‘fond’ (that brown sticky stuff on the bottom of your pan which adds so much flavour to your food). Use them in your skillet or roasting dish for lump free gravy every time. Great also for mixing pancake batters and the like as the widely spread wires make it less likely you’ll over mix the batter.
A spiral whisk will do roughly the same job as a roux whisk but it’s major advantage is the smaller, circular head which will have you whizzing around your pan surface and sides in a flash. I am reasonably new to the coil whisk (having been a roux whisk devotee for many years) having only purchased my first recently but I am ready seeing that this is going to be perfect for this winter’s gravies. Also great for emulsifying sauces and vinaigrettes.
Spring (or Coil) Whisk
Made of a single wire that loops around and around to create a circular coil this whisk is used in a pumping, up and down motion to mix and emsulsify liquids, sauces, dressings etc. they’ll never aerate your egg whites but will make a fabulous job of a vinaigrette.
Ball Whisk (Flexi)
Super easy to clean, the ball whisk is used for mixing and emulsifying (it makes an outstanding and very speedy job of egg whites). This is the only whisk where the wires are not overlapping and anchored at both ends in the handle. Instead the ball whisk features straight, heavy wires with a ball bearing attached to the end and the wires are angled so they lie flat to the pan or bowl without the user having to become a contortionist!
- Tags: how-to