“ Brand: Kitchen Craft / Product Type: Pan Handle „
~Health and Safety is Everyone's Responsibility~
I have often banged on about my love of nice kitchen gear and my belief that it's worth paying for good things which will last and this particularly applies to my kitchen pans. I am a major fan of the Viners brand and have some glorious Viners 'Techtonic' frying pans - one large, two mid-sized and a stir-fry pan plus a set of four saucepans in assorted sizes - and I adore them for their blend of beauty and effectiveness. After years of buying cheap pan sets that lasted a couple of years and then gave up the ghost, usually leaving the cupboard full of the remnant 'milk pans' that you never actually use, I realised buying individual pans and buying better quality would pay off in the long run.
The one thing I hadn't realised when I first started buying better quality pans was that they don't have heat-proof handles. Mind you, plenty of my cheaper pans with allegedly heat proof handles, still caused burns. I was baffled about the use of metal handles on pans for quite some time and eventually I challenged the lovely man in the Viners shop at Cheshire Oaks, but not until I'd invested in half a dozen silicone pan handle covers. He explained that professional chef pans have metal handles so you can bung them in the oven or under the grill to finish stuff off. Think about all those celebrity chef programmes - they're always bunging pans in and out of the oven. Since this is not the sort of thing I'd ever done, I realised that it did make sense and was soon using the grill to finish off omelettes and melting cheese onto dishes straight in the pan.
If you've ever wondered why chefs run around the kitchen with a tea towel over their arm or shoulder, it's to avoid burning their hands when lifting pans. I suspect many are ex-mafia hitmen trying to burn off their fingerprints but that might just be the Italian restaurant where I used to go. Perhaps it also explains why they seem to swear so much. For us mere mortals who haven't developed asbestos hands or a drink habit that numbs the impact of picking up a hot pan, I recommend silicone pan handle covers such as the Kitchen Craft Pan Handle Sleeve.
These sleeves come in a range of bright colours and I have most of them. I've also bought an identically shaped one in black from the Denby shop and I've seen them labelled as Zeal as well as Kitchen Craft. This makes me suspect that one company is making for lots of others as the designs are identical. My particular favourites are the bright orange and hot pink handle covers.
Each cover is made of brightly coloured, heat resistant silicone. At its narrowest points it's approximately 3mm thick but raised bobbles on the outside and gripping ridges on the inside mean that most of the time it's effectively thicker than this. The total length is about 16 cm and the width is 4.5 cm. Not all pan handles are identical in size but most will fit well with one of these sleeves, thanks to the ridges inside. These ensure that most sizes of handle will be held firmly in place. If you try and yours doesn't fit - take it back. There's no point having a sloppy sleeve as you're more at risk than you would be without one. You wouldn't want to pick up your pan and have the handle slide out of the sleeve. The bobbles on the outside help to give the sleeve a good grip and even with damp hands it shouldn't slip out of your grasp.
If you like to put your pans into the oven to finish things off, the silicone is heat resistant to 260 degrees C so you don't need to remove it before sticking it in - in fact you shouldn't as the sleeve will help you to take the pan out again safely.
The first time you use these, I recommend you slide the sleeve onto the handle before you start cooking. With a bit of practice, you can get the hang of sliding one onto an already hot handle but I don't recommend it and I usually need to use a silicone mini-mitt to hold the pan firmly in place before attempting such a manoeuvre. If you have several sleeves, you can just leave them in place all of the time - putting them (and their attached pan) into the washing up bowl or even the dishwasher - but most people will only buy one to start with until they're sure it's worth using. In that case, make sure the pan is cool again before you attempt to remove the sleeve.
~More than just a pretty sleeve~
On a practical note, the bright colours are not just fun and decorative - if you have a family member with sight problems, the bright blocks of colour can help them to cook more safely. Older people with arthritic hands or poor grip may also find that the sleeve gives an otherwise smooth and slippy handle a better and more comfortable feel.
One small tip. If you buy one of these and the shop have put a price tag on a plastic loop through the hanging hole, cut it off - don't pull. I did this on my first one and immediately broke the loop. The plastic holding the tag was stronger than the silicone. I'm inclined to think there's nothing silicone can't cope with but I'm wrong - it doesn't like violent tugging.
These will usually cost a few pounds - say £4 to £6 depending on where you find one. There are very cheap prices on Amazon but watch out for rip-off P&P from traders.