|A series of whisks|
So I thought I would break down some basics before you find yourself standing at the wall of utensils at Bed Bath and Beyond, wondering just what exactly you should buy.
Much like a pair of shoes, no single whisk goes with everything (unless you're talking combat boots, which do). Sometimes you need lift, sometimes you need something smooth. So it goes with a whisk.
The standard teardrop shaped whisk (as seen in the first whisk on the left) is the basic balloon whisk. It was designed to incorporate air into meringues and batter. The heavier the wire on the whisk, the heavier the substance they can whip.
The second whisk from the left is called a French whisk and is meant for high, straight sided bowls and pots.
The third whisk is also a balloon whisk but it was designed for incorporating air into batters....and I use it mostly for pancakes and muffin recipes. I find its great in bowls and pots with curved sides.
The white-handled whisk in this picture is a gravy whisk. Instead of incorporating air into a mixture, it is meant to get lumps out of a sauce or gravy. Its design allows the user to get into the sides of a saucepan or a shallow skillet.
The fourth whisk, I admit, I mainly just love the shape of. I find it is great for straight-sided bowls and pots-it really gets into the corners.
The last whisk is a whip whisk. It is very bouncy and often splatters sauce and scrambled eggs about if I'm not paying attention. It does whisk eggs nicely in small bowls, however, and it was free; so it gets to stay.
There are two types of whisks I don't own (yet). A flat whisk (think of a balloon whisk but in 2-d; just loops) is for shallow pans and skillets. And the ball whisk. The ball whisk has straight wires that has (wait for it...) balls at the end. The manufacturers of these whisks would love you to believe that they aerate as well as or better than the standard balloon whisk. Mainly, I think they are probably just easier to clean.
Not all whisks are metal. Plastic whisks are great for non-stick cookware. Bamboo whisks are similarly great for non-stick skillets but are not heavy enough to deal with heavy batters or pate choux. Both are more likely to break with everyday use and can become brittle.
If you really feel the need to simplify your life and eschew superfluous utensils