I am the kitchen staff in our household: cook, dish- and pot-washer. We are suspicious of non-stick cooking surfaces, so all of our pots and pans are steel, enameled iron or cast iron. No matter how much care I take in seasoning pans or paying attention to my cooking, I invariably end up with something stuck to the bottom of something at least once a week. Witnessing my frustration at having to soak, wipe, and then scrape with tools designed to do other things besides remove cooked-on food, my wife said, “Why don’t you get one of those plastic scrapers like my mom used to have?” I scoffed at first, never having heard of this kind of thing (growing up as I did surrounded by Teflon).
We found a scraper at an upscale kitchen store and gave it a try. This first scraper (Norpro 239) was cheap and flimsy and visibly wore down over a month of vigorous scraping, but it was still a revelation. Then I found this thicker scraper and I am quite impressed by its simple, sturdy functionality. After almost a year, it’s just starting to wear, and it kicks potwashing butt on almost a daily basis. It also comes in fun colors!
Unlike other, similar products, this scraper is significantly thicker in the middle than at the edges, making it rigid in use with a little bit of flexibility where the edge meets the pot or pan; it also has a rounded handle along the top edge (mimicking the handle of a European dough scraper) that fits securely along the inside of your index finger. These two features give it a really nice hand-feel, which is something I appreciate in any tool, even a mundane pot scraper. Its best feature, though, is the gradual curve on one scraper edge and the sharp curve on the other, making it useful for saucepans with rounded bottoms as well as square-bottomed pots or brownie pans.
We bought a bunch of these (they are pretty inexpensive) and will often give one to friends, house guests, and family members who express even the slightest curiosity. The gift is invariably met with a quizzical look, but almost every one we give one to contacts us later to tell us how amazed they are that they lived this long without it.
In spite of my rhapsodic description of this tool, removing kitchen gunk manually always requires elbow grease. This just makes it so much easier. And if combined with the previously reviewed Bar Keeper’s Friend (though not good for cast-iron), it’s the kitchen-sink equivalent of throwing dynamite into a clogged-up cement mixer: the caked-on mess practically flies off the pan.