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How to condition my hands to the heat?

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 

Hello, this is my first post on the forum :)

 

I thought i'd ask what to me is an essential technique in the kitchen, I basically want to know if there are methods that I can practice and go through to have my hands better adapt to handle hot foods, my father (48) still works as a chef at a Chinese restaurant/takeaway and on days i'm reminded of how much of a pussy I am compared to him. He handles food (which are blazing hot to me) like its bloody frozen  and just goes in without a seconds thought. I mean i'm at least able not to turn or run away when oil spits but when things like plates are microwaved for an extended time I can't hold it and same goes for plastic containers which explodes with steam as soon as you open it. Any exercises any of you can recommend (personally trialed?) would be a great help!!! 

 

Thank you for your time.


Edited by iLikeTouching - 9/3/12 at 10:19am
post #2 of 31

A: hold everything by the edges. B: If you don't work the line you can't do it as well they can.  Sorry, cause I have made "Chef" now, heh, I don"t have the "Hot Hands" for everything I used to have. No more snatching baked potatoes barehanded or pulling a hotel pan out of 200F barehanded and putting in a chafing dish. I need a towel.

"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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post #3 of 31

Working a hot line and or cooking should not be a pain tolerance contest. Just let nature take it's course. Extended exposure over a regular basis will naturally evolve into your desired goal. Short cuts will probably lead to unnecessary discomfort or worse. Remember, your pain receptors in your fingers are your friends. They know what they are doing.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #4 of 31

honestly when I worked a line, everyone had a small dish towel with them and used it for just about everything, the guys who had the tolerance (usually the ones fresh off dish or the ones who had been doing it for a a LONG time) would occasionally grab it barehanded, but using a towel you'll be kinda surprised how after the first week it really becomes part of your hand just take a dish towel fold it once and it works amazingly. just my advice/experience

post #5 of 31

I never cooked in a professional kitchen but this is something I noticed. 

I was at a friend's house and her mother was visiting.  She picked up something that was (to me) incredibly hot, that i would have used a potholder to take.  I said "watch out, you'll burn your hands" and she said no she wouldn't - it wasn't that hot. 

 

I think with experience you get an idea of how hot is too hot.  If you blister or even if the skin stays red it's too hot to handle.  But our pain receptors will set off alarms before that temperature.  Curious about what that older woman said, I began to try to pick up hotter things than i thought i could handle, and in fact, they felt hot but didn;t burn me. 

 

Have you ever felt something frozen, not knowing what it was, like a dish that had been in the freezer, and you touch it accidentally and pull your hand away because it seems to be burning hot?  That's because we have a sensation (which is the neuological aspect of the feeling) and then a perception or feeling, which is the mental aspect - the interpretation of the sensation.  Perception is governed by experience, sensation is always the same.  So the more you find that things that seem too hot are not, the mroe your perceptive areas of the brain (still the brain but the "higher" areas) will register them as "uncomfortably hot but not dangerously hot". 

 

But, as Cheflayne says, the pain receptors are your friends, and nature tends to work on the "better safe than sorry" principle.  As time goes on you'll be able to decide what will burn you and what just feels very hot.  So protect your hands! Don't buy into the macho kitchen attitude.  You could permanently damage yourself if you're not careful with hot things.  And for what?

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #6 of 31

This all begs the question......and it is directed towards the Chef's on this thread.

Do you wear this ability to handle hot pans with your bare hands as a badge on your chest?

Do you feel you are not "with it" or "cool" because you have to use a towel or hot pad?

 

Please.

 

You will find that as you gain more experience from handling hot items that your hands will adapt.

Nothing more.

This is not the Professional forum.

This is simply questions from people who cook in the homes.

post #7 of 31

I find that calluses help.  I get calluses on my left hand because I play the violin.  Thus I handle most hot things in my left hand.  Find a way to build some calluses in your hands, maybe yard work would do the trick.  Or just use kitchen gloves, what's the big deal?

 

If plates are getting hot in the microwave then 1) those plates are not microwave safe and 2) why are you using a microwave in a professional kitchen?

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #8 of 31

It never ceases to amaze me, the multitude of interpretations that will crop up due to all the different individuals on this forum. I should have figured it out by now that interpretations and reactions are like snowflakes, but for some reason it still fascinates the simple mind.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefross View Post

This all begs the question......and it is directed towards the Chef's on this thread.

Do you wear this ability to handle hot pans with your bare hands as a badge on your chest?

Do you feel you are not "with it" or "cool" because you have to use a towel or hot pad?

 

Please.

 

I don't see this in any of the responses posted

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #9 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by StatsCook View Post

honestly when I worked a line, everyone had a small dish towel with them and used it for just about everything, the guys who had the tolerance (usually the ones fresh off dish or the ones who had been doing it for a a LONG time) would occasionally grab it barehanded, but using a towel you'll be kinda surprised how after the first week it really becomes part of your hand just take a dish towel fold it once and it works amazingly. just my advice/experience

I understand but there are tons of situations where I don't have the time to pick up a towel and pick up or chop up what I need too in the kitchen, an example would be as soon as spring rolls are taken out of the fryer and placed on some cloth, I'm expected to place those rolls into a bag and I can manage it but only barely. Fastest and expected method is to use my hands, I guess if it were any other sort of kitchen i'd be able to have a tong to pick it up just not this one haha.

 

Thanks for your advice though.


Edited by iLikeTouching - 9/3/12 at 10:20am
post #10 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefross View Post

"This is not the Professional forum."

"This is simply questions from people who cook in the homes."

Not necessarily, I help out during the times I can at the place but a part of me wants to take this as a career into other types of cuisines. Trying to keep up with the fact that I can't handle hot foods will either make me send out the food slower or having someone else help me and I hate to slow others down just because of my simple inability to handle what they do for XX years... Honestly it makes me depressed that I can't do such a simple thing. Also I couldn't post in the professionals section because I 'can't boil water', didn't know that would affect my posts.

post #11 of 31

We are working with hot ovens, boiling pots of water, pans out of the oven, hot steam, hot oil.......

 

Where are your towels ? The damp cloth (which I don't work without) ? Hot pads .....

 

No job is worth getting burns over (except the ones that happen by accident) . Common sense comes first in the kitchen.

 

Petals.

 

ps. The other day , someone was not paying attention , they pulled a very hot pan out of the oven, got busy with something else for a second, he went to grab the handle, all he said heard was a sizzle of his hand caught on the handle. Obviously this was an accident.

Petals
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Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
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post #12 of 31

Think of ice cold. condition finger tips first.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #13 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post

I find that calluses help.  I get calluses on my left hand because I play the violin.  Thus I handle most hot things in my left hand.  Find a way to build some calluses in your hands, maybe yard work would do the trick.  Or just use kitchen gloves, what's the big deal?

 

If plates are getting hot in the microwave then 1) those plates are not microwave safe and 2) why are you using a microwave in a professional kitchen?

Haha well those last two questions don't help with my situation, it just questions how the establishment works. I edited my OP and added 'takeaway' hopefully making it understandable why it does have a microwave. :D

 

I guess calluses might help since my hands have never been worked to the point to develop them (too spoiled in terms of hard labor). Thanks :)

post #14 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by petalsandcoco View Post

We are working with hot ovens, boiling pots of water, pans out of the oven, hot steam, hot oil.......

 

Where are your towels ? The damp cloth (which I don't work without) ? Hot pads .....

 

No job is worth getting burns over (except the ones that happen by accident) . Common sense comes first in the kitchen.

 

Petals.

 

ps. The other day , someone was not paying attention , they pulled a very hot pan out of the oven, got busy with something else for a second, he went to grab the handle, all he said heard was a sizzle of his hand caught on the handle. Obviously this was an accident.

Ouch

 

We don't use towels or at least they don't, the only time I see them use cloths are when they take the roast ducks out the oven. As far as I know they worked in places in the past without much safety or regulations so burns were plenty back in their days.

post #15 of 31

have you tried wearing gloves? just simple non latex gloves? When I started out washing dishes we put two gloves on each hand to hand the dishes cause they came out of the machine screaming hot especially the metal items. Just a suggestion, because whenever the preps called me to assist them in portioning and bag stuff I had to wear gloves anyways, you'd be surprised how much it helps. Just see if you can get a box of gloves to put on when you start your shift

post #16 of 31

The rice bucket baseball exercise is great. Use hot rice and in a month you're done for any kitchen in the world. Of course, forget about any finger's sensibility.

Gebbe Got uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichen und schönen Tod. Joseph Roth.
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Gebbe Got uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichen und schönen Tod. Joseph Roth.
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post #17 of 31

why in the world would you want to 'condition' your hands to heat in the first place.....heat hurts...burns hurt, steam hurts, frying splatters hurt, oven burns hurt,picking up hot pots hurt...if you don't learn to always have a towel on you (bring inyour own if you have to), you will have a very,very,very short career in the kitchen....no excuses, just do it...

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #18 of 31

I have another option for the OP: work for one year in a tandoor kitchen.

Gebbe Got uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichen und schönen Tod. Joseph Roth.
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Gebbe Got uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichen und schönen Tod. Joseph Roth.
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post #19 of 31

one last thing...i noticed that your moniker is 'i like touching'...well that won't be happening if you don't use towels or hot pads or something between you and the heat! your hands will turn into lobster claws, you won't be able to feel your girlfriends hair or finer features..you'll be frankenstienish in your touch.....just because your father doesn't use them doesn't mean that you should follow...have you followed all of his ways, his advice? hey, maybe you will teach him someting new grasshopper!...anyway just a last thought...

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #20 of 31

to the OP: pull sugar. take it up as a hobby. you might even make a lot of money at it later on once you've learned how to do it well.

post #21 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by durangojo View Post

one last thing...i noticed that your moniker is 'i like touching'...well that won't be happening if you don't use towels or hot pads or something between you and the heat! your hands will turn into lobster claws, you won't be able to feel your girlfriends hair or finer features..you'll be frankenstienish in your touch.....just because your father doesn't use them doesn't mean that you should follow...have you followed all of his ways, his advice? hey, maybe you will teach him someting new grasshopper!...anyway just a last thought...

joey

I will become the lonely chef with frankenstein's touch incidentally also having claws for hands, haha. Thanks really for giving me your time and advice, its a shame I thought there were secret tricks to the trade dealing with matters like this, maybe it was a bit fantasy-ish to think it so easily. But you've seen it as well haven't you? Chef's hands who have worked so long in their craft/jobs their hands have become this solid rock like state, size almost doesn't even matter but they can do so much with it. It's inspiring really. Or maybe its just what happens to people's hands when we become old added with the build up of calluses haha.


Edited by iLikeTouching - 9/5/12 at 7:57am
post #22 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steelybob View Post

to the OP: pull sugar. take it up as a hobby. you might even make a lot of money at it later on once you've learned how to do it well.

Looks interesting! Seen some swans made out of sugar and it was beautifully done though the process looks messy haha, can't imagine how hard it must be to clean up those sugared pots and pans.

post #23 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ordo View Post

The rice bucket baseball exercise is great. Use hot rice and in a month you're done for any kitchen in the world. Of course, forget about any finger's sensibility.

Hmmm sounds doable, might try it :D 

post #24 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by StatsCook View Post

have you tried wearing gloves? just simple non latex gloves? When I started out washing dishes we put two gloves on each hand to hand the dishes cause they came out of the machine screaming hot especially the metal items. Just a suggestion, because whenever the preps called me to assist them in portioning and bag stuff I had to wear gloves anyways, you'd be surprised how much it helps. Just see if you can get a box of gloves to put on when you start your shift

There are times when you have to deal with the hot foods on the spot so sadly I can't say 'ill be back, let me get my gloves' especially at a rush and at the same time I can't leave it on either in case i'm preparing something else, like something I need to taste :( 

post #25 of 31

Okay  iLike Touching listen up............Since you are still pushing you desire to harden your hands to hot items....try this.

Start small....like taking a 500 degree baked potato out of the oven.

See and/ or / time how long you can touch the potato before your brain's "HOT" sensors kick in.

The hot rice ball idea is also very good.

Next try to take out a pan made from aluminum foil grabbing both ends and lifting it out right from the oven to the table.

 

Tongue in cheek crazy.gif

After a while you WILL get used to the heat.

And after a while you'll be able to remove casserole dishes,

and then.........even cast iron pans right from the oven.

 

 

 

Still........ no response Cheflayne

post #26 of 31
Thread Starter 

Thank you chef! 

post #27 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by iLikeTouching View Post

I will become the lonely chef with frankenstein's touch incidentally also having claws for hands, haha. Thanks really for giving me your time and advice, its a shame I thought there were secret tricks to the trade dealing with matters like this, maybe it was a bit fantasy-ish to think it so easily. But you've seen it as well haven't you? Chef's hands who have worked so long in their craft/jobs their hands have become this solid rock like state, size almost doesn't even matter but they can do so much with it. It's inspiring really. Or maybe its just what happens to people's hands when we become old added with the build up of calluses haha.

'work smart' is always a good motto.....

 

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #28 of 31

What i always do in the kitchen is wear a butchers apron and have a dry towel on the left side and tongs on the right side.

 

So i can pick up hot stuff with the tongs out of the oven etc. and wipe the plate with my dry towel.. believe me it works wonders.

post #29 of 31
Towels and tongs go everywhere I go. That's just working smart. But if you must, yes start handling hot things and you will become accustomed to it, first because your body is building calluses and learning that x level of heat isn't doing much damage. After that you are doing permanent nerve damage to the part of your body that you rely upon to tell you what things feel like. There is nothing useful, intelligent, or cool about going that far.
I used to be pretty proud of my ability to hold hot things. As I have matured and gotten wiser over the years, I've realized how pointless acting tough is. I don't go anywhere without towels hanging by my side. My productivity, speed, and efficiency has not been negatively affected one bit.
I can understand wanting to conform and work just like everybody else, but this is one of those lines I will not cross.
A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
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A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
Reply
post #30 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by iLikeTouching View Post

Looks interesting! Seen some swans made out of sugar and it was beautifully done though the process looks messy haha, can't imagine how hard it must be to clean up those sugared pots and pans

fill the pot with water and throw it on the stove.  this was pointed out to me after scrubing with steal wool haha

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