L is for Ladle
A ladle is a type of serving spoon designed specifically for serving liquids such as soup or beverages. While all serving spoons have an elongated handle, a ladle is differentiated by having a deep well for the business end. This well is used to scoop up a larger amount of liquid than possible with a regular serving spoon.
The most famous and easily recognizable example of a ladle actually comes from astronomy. The big and little dippers are the best known constellations in the night sky. These are ladles.
Types of ladle
The differences in ladles mainly come down to style and material.
There are two main styles of ladles, spouted and regular. Of these, a regular ladle is by far the most common and tends to be the cheapest. A spouted ladle will have one or more pouring spouts sprouting from the sides of the ladle’s scoop. This is to make it easier to pour the liquid out without spilling it. Of spouted ladles, the spout can either be at the front or the side. When found on the side, it is common to have two, to keep the utensil ambidextrous.
A regular ladle does not have these spouts. Instead, it will feature a smooth edge all the way around until it meets back up with the handle.
Specialty ladles also exist. One example is a straining ladle that has a lip with small holes. This ladle is not used for serving liquids, but for serving foods that cooked in a liquid, similar to a slotted spoon.
The handle of a ladle can be flat or curved. Flat handles are sometimes covered in a rubberized grip to keep your hand cool while it has been sitting in a hot pot. A curved handle will have a hook to keep the ladle from falling in. Typically, you will only see metal ladles with a curved handle.
By far, the most common materials used today for ladle construction are stainless steel and nylon. Almost all serving utensils of all types come down mostly to these two materials. Another material with rising popularity is bamboo; however, bamboo ladles are not as common as other utensils. Older ladles are typically copper, aluminum, silver, or even pewter.
Ladles come in a variety of sizes. The handle is usually between 8 and 14 inches long and the spoon part can vary from 1 ounce capacity or less to as large as a pint.
Most varieties will run you about $5-$10. I generally don’t like using nylon utensils because you have to be aware of where you put them so that they don’t melt when left in contact with a hot pot. Instead, I prefer stainless steel utensils. Look for one that is crafted from a single piece instead of riveted together. The Adcraft LIPC-4 4 oz Stainless Steel Deluxe Ladle is a good compromise between compact size and large scoop without sacrificing quality.
The recommended products in the post contain affiliate links to Amazon. This means I will receive a small amount whenever somebody buys an item I recommend. Since Amazon sells pretty much everything these days, the availablity of affiliate links does not color my recommendations in any way.