Article: Silver Ladles
They say, “what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander” For goodness sakes, let’s hope they are using the right ladle!
By- Rosemarie Schickler
When cooking became refined, and sauces and gravies were added to the cuisine, various forms were wrought to hold and serve the luscious liquids. There are ladles for mustard, mayonnaise, sauces, cream and gravy, as well as a clear broth ( bouillon ), oysters, soup, punch, and wine. Though most ladles were developed in the late 19th century, , punch ladles, soup ladles, mustard and gravy ladles were well established in the 18th century.
The size of the ladles varies with the pattern, but usually in Victorian services, the ladles can nest one within the other, with a geometric progression from smallest to largest.
The smallest is the mustard ladle, used to transfer mustard seed ground with vinegar and oil onto the meats being served. They vary in length from 3inches to about 5 inches. They are sometimes gold-washed to keep the ladle from the effects of vinegar – corrosion and tarnish. In addition, the bowls were sometimes tipped down so that the mustard would drip off the end of the spoon in a mustard jar in a castor set.
A 5 – 6 inch ladle could be found in a small bowl of mayonnaise. Mayonnaise bowls (complete with underplate ) are quite decorative, and were sometimes found as part of elaborate china services. The ladle has a slight bend in the handle to hook over the edge of a glass or ceramic bowl. The serving part of the ladle ( bowl ) is also gold-washed, as mayonnaise is made with eggs and vinegar, known culprits for tarnishing silver.
Gold-wash is the plating is sterling with 24 carat gold. No matter how faint, it does protect the silver from tarnish, and should be preserved by careful cleaning.
Sauce Ladles are about 6 inches long and have a bowl about 1 inch wide. You can use your imagination as to the varied use for this ladle, but it was most likely used with a bowl filled with dessert sauces, such as chocolate, raspberry or caramel.
Cream Ladles, in days gone by, were actually used to transfer cream from a bowl or pitcher to fruit or cereal. Today, calorie conscious diners use it as a smaller gravy ladle. They are about 7 inches long with the width of the bowl about 1 ½ to 2 inches.
Not much can be said about the gravy ladle. It says what is does. The size again varies with the pattern and maker, and is usually about 8 inches long.
Next in the series are soup ladles. Here the varied sizes make no difference for their use. Bouillon Ladles ( also called an oyster ladle or small soup ladle ) are between 10 and 11 inches long, with the width of the bowl about 2 ½ to 3 inches wide.
Large soup ladles are about 12 to 13 inches long and the width of the bowl 3 inches or more. We use them for soups and stews, as each ladle full should serve a ½ cup or more.
Punch ladles are at the top of the list, for beauty and length ( about 16 inches ). They always have spouts on either side of the bowl for pouring. You may use soup ladles for punch, but a true punch ladle must have pouring spouts. There are some punch ladles too, that are smaller and of all sizes, but all have pouring spouts.
Ladles of all sizes and shapes are one of the most decorative and elaborate pieces in any pattern. They should be appreciated for their beauty as well as their function. Whether the sauce is for the goose or the gander, ‘tis the season to try new recipes and use those ladles.
Claret Ladles are the longest, 17 to 18 inches, and used to muddle and strain fruit from a claret jug.