Spider Skimmers

Published February 1, 2011. From Cook's Country.

Trying to pull fritters from bubbling oil with a spoon or a pair of tongs may leave you with mangled pastries, an oily mess, burns—or all three. The best tool for the job is a type of skimmer that chefs call a “spider.”

Overview:

Trying to pull fritters from bubbling oil with a spoon or a pair of tongs may leave you with mangled pastries, an oily mess, burns—or all three. The best tool for the job is a type of skimmer that chefs call a “spider.” Essentially a shallow basket at the end of a long handle, a spider lets boiling fat or water safely drain away while you lift food comfortably from a pot. We tested five spiders while boiling wontons and frying apple fritters and french fries. All were about 5 inches in diameter and cost from $6.95 to $19.95.

Each spider handled wontons and french fries with relative ease. But the fritters, which we shallow-fried, were another story. We like to fry in a deep Dutch oven to reduce splattering, but getting under the fritters posed a problem. Some skimmers were awkward to use and had us chasing finished fritters around the Dutch oven while the rest of the batch burned. We prefer longer metal handles with extreme angles that keep our hands away from hot edges and don’t absorb odors. We also preferred woven wire… read more

Trying to pull fritters from bubbling oil with a spoon or a pair of tongs may leave you with mangled pastries, an oily mess, burns—or all three. The best tool for the job is a type of skimmer that chefs call a “spider.” Essentially a shallow basket at the end of a long handle, a spider lets boiling fat or water safely drain away while you lift food comfortably from a pot. We tested five spiders while boiling wontons and frying apple fritters and french fries. All were about 5 inches in diameter and cost from $6.95 to $19.95.

Each spider handled wontons and french fries with relative ease. But the fritters, which we shallow-fried, were another story. We like to fry in a deep Dutch oven to reduce splattering, but getting under the fritters posed a problem. Some skimmers were awkward to use and had us chasing finished fritters around the Dutch oven while the rest of the batch burned. We prefer longer metal handles with extreme angles that keep our hands away from hot edges and don’t absorb odors. We also preferred woven wire baskets to solid perforated or slotted ones, which tend to bring oil with them, and we like baskets with shallower, flatter lips that get underneath food easily. Our winning strainer has all of these features, plus it’s dishwasher-safe for easy cleanup.

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