A ladle consists of a long handle that has at the end of it an attachment that looks like a small bowl. It is used for scooping liquids, whether hot or cold.
Some ladles have broader bowls, some have deeper bowls. Some models have small spouts on one or both sides to help with more accurately pouring the contents out. Most are made of stainless steel, or plastic; ones made out of copper are now rare.
Note that the word “ladle” can be used as a noun to indicate a kitchen implement, or it can be used as a verb, meaning to scoop up a liquid with a ladle.
You can use a ladle to help you make better poached eggs. You crack the egg into the ladle, then lower the bowl of the ladle into the simmering water just enough so that the water pours in over the edges. You wait about 5 seconds, just long enough for the white to start setting, then tip the ladle to slide the egg out and let it get on with poaching.
Types of ladles
Jelly Canning Ladles
A jelly canning ladle is like a regular ladle, but has quite a deep bowl and a flat front. The flat portion at the front is useful for being able to collect the remaining jelly at the bottom of the pot it was cooked in. They are very hard to find. Instead, you can tip up the pot to get at it better with a regular ladle, or use a spatula to push it all to one side of the pot where you can collect it from more easily.
Jelly Ladles (aka Sauce Ladle)
Jelly ladles are now mostly just available at antique stores. They could be used at the breakfast table for scooping jams and jellies out of pots and onto your toast, or at the dinner table to help yourself to items such as horseradish or other sauces. They would be about 14 cm long (about 5 1/2 inches), with a bowl of about just 4 to 5 cm wide (about 1 3/4 inches). The bowls could be silver, or you could pay extra to purchase ones that had bowls that were gilt on the inside.