It's painful in more ways than one to watch the cookies you spent an hour making and baking tumble to the floor — all because the pan was too hot and you grabbed a thin hand towel instead of an oven mitt.
"It's nice to have a couple of oven mitts and trivets," says Nicole Huntley, manager of Sur La Table, a cooking-supply store in Fresno. "Just so you don't have to really search for them" when you need one.
If you need to restock your supply of oven mitts and potholders, there are many styles and types from which to select.
Oven mitts often are made out of either fabric or silicone. A few may be a mixture of both — say, a silicone coat over a fabric oven mitt.
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Fabric oven mitts often are made from 100 percent cotton, are washable and are more decorative. The mitts can have interesting cloth prints and shapes, such as a lobster claw.
"If you're going to have something hanging (in your kitchen), I'd go for something that's complementary to your kitchen," says Christiane Lemieux, designer for DwellStudio and DwellStudio for Target in New York. "Don't just think of them as oven mitts but also as color accents."
Meanwhile, "silicone (mitts) are safe to a higher temperature than the normal cloth ones," most of which are heat-resistant up to 200 degrees, Huntley says. Descriptions on some of the silicone oven mitts sold by Sur La Table say they're appropriate for handling pots and pans up to 675 degrees.
Silicone oven mitts also can come in a variety of colors, but unlike cloth mitts, they're usually just solid colors.
"I am not an expert on silicone, but I would venture to guess that it's difficult to print on it, and therefore the mitts tend to be solid," Lemieux writes in an e-mail.
But they also have some advantages, such as being waterproof, easy-to-clean, nonporous, flexible and slip-resistant, says Jim Oelsner, general manager of Cresco Restaurant Supply in Fresno. Mitts often come in one size that fits most hands. But you still should slip your hands in the mitts and try them, Oelsner and Huntley say. "Test them out to see if your hands have a good grip," Huntley says.
Fabric oven mitts generally start at $6; silicone ones cost a few dollars more.
Occasionally, hot pots and pans are placed on oven mitts on countertops. Try not to do that, Oelsner says. "Use a pad; don't use a glove," he says. If a pot or pan isn't placed flat on the oven mitt, the pot or pan can tilt, causing spills or damaging the countertop.
Like oven mitts, most potholders are made of fabric or silicone. Decorative metal trivets also are available. The cost of pairs of potholders and oven mitts starts at $4.99 at Target and $9.99 online at Target. At Sur La Table, potholders start at $5.95 for fabric and $7.95 for silicone.