Bulb Basters make basting or retrieving juices from a roasting pan very easy. With a spoon, you usually have to push things aside to make space, or to tilt the roasting pan to such an angle that there’s always the possibility everything will come sliding out on you.
To use a Bulb Baster, you squeeze the bulb to force air out, insert the tube nozzle into liquid, and release the bulb to allow air back in. As air comes back into the nozzle, it sucks liquid up the tube. Aim the nozzle where you want the liquid to go, and then squeeze the bulb to force the liquid out.
Some, instead of a nozzle end, have a brush at the end, so you brush the juices back onto the meat.
The juices that come up can be VERY hot, and this heat can penetrate through the plastic bulb, so use an oven mitt. When you have liquid in the tube, be careful moving the tube about lest the suction gets broken and the scalding hot liquid comes squirting out.
You can almost never get any tube completely full. The best you’ll do is 1/2 to 3/4 full. Poor bulbs might only be able to suck up enough liquid to get the tube 1/4 full.
It is best not to sit a Bulb Baster on the stovetop between bastings as it may melt.
The tubes can be clear plastic glass, or stainless steel. Glass tubes will always be clear; plastic tubes can be clear or opaque. The opaque plastic ones are usually cheaper and not as heat-resistant as the clear plastic ones. Clear ones usually have measurements marked off on them. Glass will be heatproof, but not shatterproof, so don’t let it roll off the counter. Some people prefer metal ones, even though you can’t easily tell how much liquid you’ve sucked up, because they’re less prone to melt or affected by hot fat.
Bulbs are always made out of plastic and come in all different sizes. Some models have their bulbs shaped like turkeys; some have bulbs with flat sides to stop them rolling on countertops when laid flat. Some bulbs are better than others as some won’t suck up much liquid, while others will cause the liquid to release out before you are ready.
Some Bulb Basters come with a needle attachment that you can insert into the nozzle. This is called an “injector needle.” It allows you to inject juices into the food item you are cooking.
Many come with cleaning brushes, though you probably won’t need it if you have a dishwasher. The ones that come with brushes usually come packaged with the brush inside the tube — remove this brush before using. Most people usually end up storing the brush separately, rather than inside the tube, as it is useful as a bottle brush.
Bulb Basters are easy to wash. Just detach the bulb, and put both parts in the dishwasher. In North America, if you’re putting a plastic tube or the bulb in the bottom rack, make sure it’s not near the heating element. To be safe, put it in the top rack or in a door cutlery caddy (if the bulb will fit.) Put the bulb in facing downwards; stand the tube up on a post in the dishwasher drawer.
When clean, let the bulb and the tube dry separately, and then put them both back together and store. A few models have flat ends on the bulb, so you can store them standing up. These are also handy, because in between bastings, you can stand them up instead of laying them down sideways. This ensures they won’t roll off the counter or leak juices out on the counter top.
When buying a Bulb Baster, to see how a bulb feels, see if there’s an oven mitt nearby in the store that you can try it with to see how easy you can manage it. Make sure you get one that is dishwasher safe, if that is important to you.
Remove juices and grease from the pan. You need to do this when you are cooking duck or goose, or when you are roasting in a crock pot;
- Inject marinade into meat, if your model came with an injector needle;
- Remove excess oil from dishes such as ratatouille and pasta sauces if you are concerned about low-fat cooking;
- The bulb by itself, detached from the tube, can be used to blow an egg. You poke the holes in each end of the egg, place the bulb over the hole at one end, squeeze to force air out. Before you release the bulb, move it away from the hole — you don’t want to suck egg into the bulb. Repeat as many times as is needed;
- Good for water-play activities for kids (just remember you also use it in the kitchen, so mind what they’re using it to suck up.)