Title:
Food preparation utensil
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A food preparation utensil has a body, a flexible wiper and a handle. The body has a food-contacting surface bounded by a peripheral edge. The flexible wiper extends outwardly from at least a portion of the peripheral edge. The handle is coupled to the body and extends from the body in a direction that is opposite the food-contacting surface. The body can be inserted into an opening of a container and into contact with a food product in the container.



Inventors:
Parks, Lonnette Susan (Salem, VA, US)
Application Number:
10/341210
Publication Date:
07/17/2003
Filing Date:
01/13/2003
Assignee:
PARKS LONNETTE SUSAN
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
15/211
International Classes:
A46B9/02; (IPC1-7): A46B1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
OKEZIE, ESTHER O
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Barnes & Thornburg LLP (FW) (Fort Wayne, IN, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A utensil for use in food preparation, comprising: a) a body having a food-contacting surface bounded by a peripheral edge; b) a flexible wiper extending outwardly from at least a portion of the peripheral edge of the body; c) a handle coupled to the body and extending from the body in a direction that is opposite the food-contacting surface, such that the body can be inserted into an opening of a container and into contact with a food product in the container.

2. The utensil according to claim 1, wherein said food-contacting surface is a substantially flat, planer surface.

3. The utensil of claim 1, wherein the body is formed from a pair of substantially circular disks, and wherein the flexible wiper extends outwardly from between the disks.

4. The utensil of claim 1, wherein the flexible wiper is formed from a plurality of bristles.

5. The utensil of claim 4, wherein said bristles are formed of plastic.

6. The utensil of claim 1, wherein said body has a diameter which is slightly smaller than the opening of the container.

7. The utensil of claim 1, wherein said flexible wiper is configured to swipe an inner surface of the container so as to remove food particles from said surface of the container.

8. The utensil of claim 7, wherein said food container is a wide-mouthed Mason jar.

9. The utensil of claim 1, wherein said food-contacting surface is one of a substantially flat, planer surface, and undulating surface, and an angularly variable surface.

10. The utensil of claim 1, wherein the flexible wiper is formed from at least one of a plurality of bristles, a rubber wiper, metal, and an open or closed cell foam material.

11. The utensil of claim 1, wherein the handle is attached to the body by a mechanical fastener, such as a screw.

12. The utensil of claim 1, wherein the handle is formed from plastic, wood or metal.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] The present application is related to and claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application, Serial No. 60/347,151, filed on Jan. 11, 2002, entitled “MASON JAR PRESS BRUSH.” The subject matter disclosed in that provisional application is hereby expressly incorporated into the present application.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] This invention relates generally to utensils used in food preparation and, more particularly, to a hand-held utensil for facilitating the placement of dry food ingredients into containers. One embodiment of the invention is especially well suited for packing dry food ingredients in uniform layers in transparent food containers, such as wide-mouthed Mason jars.

BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY

[0003] Certain applications require the layering of food products in containers. For example, certain dry food ingredients for recipes (such as, cookie recipes) are often placed into a single transparent container, and the container is decorated for presentation or sale. Containers used for this purpose are often transparent jars, such as one-quart Mason jars. The ingredients in the jars are thus visible to an onlooker.

[0004] It is desirable to layer various ingredients into a transparent container such that each layer is uniformly packed and well defined. It is also desirable to swipe or wipe the inner surface of the container as additional food ingredients are placed in the container to remove particles of food ingredients previously placed in the container from the transparent sidewall. However, these goals may be difficult to achieve with commonly available kitchen utensils.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005] The utensil of the present invention is designed to facilitate the layering of food ingredients in containers, particularly transparent containers such as Mason jars. One embodiment of the utensil of the present invention comprises a body having a food-contacting surface bounded by a peripheral edge. A flexible wiper extends outwardly from at least a portion of the peripheral edge of the body. A handle is coupled to the body and extends from the body in a direction that is opposite the food-contacting surface. Using the handle, the body can be inserted into an opening of a container and into contact with a food product in the container.

[0006] In one embodiment, the food-contacting surface of the body is a substantially flat, planer surface. In alternative embodiments, the food-contacting surface may be undulating or angularly variable to produce wavy or sharp “peaks and valleys” between adjacent food layers.

[0007] In one embodiment, the body is formed from a pair of substantially circular disks. In this embodiment, the flexible wiper is disposed between and extends outwardly from between the disks.

[0008] In certain embodiments, the flexible wiper is formed from a plurality of bristles. The bristles may be formed of plastic. Alternatively, stainless steel or other materials may be used to form the bristles. Alternatively, the flexible wiper may be made of rubber, metal, or open or closed cell foam material.

[0009] In one embodiment, the body has a diameter which is slightly smaller than the opening of the food container with which the utensil is used. In this and other embodiments, the flexible wiper is configured to swipe an inner surface of the container so as to remove food particles from the inner surface of the container.

[0010] A utensil constructed in accordance with the present invention is particularly useful for packing all of the ingredients necessary to make various cookie recipes into wide-mouthed Mason jars. This or other embodiments of the utensil may be similarly useful with other food ingredients and containers.

[0011] Additional features and advantages of the food preparation utensil will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon consideration of the following detailed description of the illustrated embodiment exemplifying the best mode of carrying out the food preparation utensil as presently perceived.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

[0012] The present disclosure will be described hereafter with reference to the attached drawings which are given as non-limiting examples only, in which:

[0013] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a utensil constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention.

[0014] FIG. 1A is a partial cross-sectional view taken through body portion 12 of FIG. 1.

[0015] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the utensil of FIG. 1 and a food container.

[0016] FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the utensil and container shown in FIG. 2, with the utensil inserted into the container to pack a dry food ingredient therein.

[0017] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the utensil and container of FIGS. 2 and 3, following addition of a second dry food ingredient into the container.

[0018] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the utensil and container of FIGS. 2-4, showing the utensil inserted into the container to pack the second dry food ingredient therein.

[0019] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the utensil and container of FIGS. 2-5 following addition of a third dry food ingredient.

[0020] Corresponding reference characters indicate corresponding parts throughout the several views. The exemplification set out herein illustrates embodiments of the food preparation utensil, and such exemplification is not to be construed as limiting the scope of the invention in any manner.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

[0021] FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of an illustrative embodiment of the present invention. The embodiment of FIG. 1 is a utensil 10 having a body portion 12 and a handle 14. Handle 14 is coupled to body portion 12 and, in this embodiment, extends away from body portion 12 at approximately a 90 degree angle. In one embodiment, handle 14 is coupled to body portion 12 by a mechanical fastener, such as a screw 13 (see FIG. 1A). Other types of fasteners or attachment mechanisms may be used. In some embodiments, handle 14 and body portion 12 may be integrally formed (e.g., from molded plastic).

[0022] In the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 1A, body portion 12 is formed as a substantially flat disk having a peripheral edge 16. More specifically, and with reference to FIG. 1A, body portion 12 is formed of two disks 18 and 20 which are secured to handle 14 by screw 13. Sandwiched between disks 18 and 20 and extending from peripheral edge 16, is a flexible wiper 22. In the embodiment shown, wiper 22 extends around substantially the entire extent of peripheral edge 16. In alternative embodiments, wiper 22 may extend only partially around edge 16. Also, in the embodiment shown, wiper 22 is continuous. In alternative embodiments, one or more gaps may be provided as the wiper extends around peripheral edge 16.

[0023] In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, flexible wiper 22 is formed from a plurality of plastic bristles which are secured to metal strip 23, which is in turn secured (such as, by adhesives) between disks 18 and 20. The bristles which form flexible wiper 22 are made of a plastic material approved for food-contacting applications. Alternative materials and/or structures may be used to form flexible wiper 22. For example, a rubber edge (similar to the edge of a rubber wiper or “squeegee”) could be used to form wiper 22. Open or closed cell foam rubber may also be used to form flexible wiper 22. The purpose of flexible wiper 22, as will be discussed in greater detail below, is to allow body portion 12 of utensil 10 to be inserted into a container having an opening sufficient to admit the relatively rigid disks 18 and 20, but smaller than the overall diameter of body portion 12 and flexible wiper 22. Once inserted in the container, peripheral edge 24 of flexible wiper 22 contacts the interior sidewall of the food receiving container and swipes the interior wall to remove food particles therefrom.

[0024] Surface 25 of disk 20 faces away from longitudinally-extending handle 14. Surface 25 is a food-contacting surface which, as will be discussed in more detail below, is used for packing and compressing dry food ingredients into a container. In the embodiment illustrated, surface 25 is a substantially flat, planer surface which is bounded by, and which partially defines, peripheral edge 16 and body portion 12. In the embodiment illustrated, both disk 20 and disk 18 are made of a plastic material which is suitable and approved for use in food preparation applications. Although surface 25 is shown in the illustrated embodiment as a substantially flat, planer surface, alternative embodiments may be used to facilitate forming food layers having other configurations. For example, body portion 12 can be formed so as to provide an undulating food-contacting surface in place of substantially flat surface 25. Alternatively, a surface having one or more angular variations may also be provided.

[0025] As previously noted, handle 14 is attached to body portion 12 by any appropriate means and extends away from food-contacting surface 25 of disk 20. Handle 14 has a length which is sufficient to allow body portion 12 to be used to pack dried food ingredients into containers having a range of depths. Handle 14 may be made of plastic, wood, metal (such as stainless steel) or other materials suitable for use in food preparation applications.

[0026] FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of utensil 10 positioned above open food container 26. Opening 28 of container 26 is slightly larger than the diameter of disks 18 and 20 of body portion 12. Opening 28 is, however, slightly smaller than the overall diameter of body portion 12, as measured across disks 18 and 20 and flexible wiper 22.

[0027] FIG. 3 shows utensil 10 and container 26 of FIG. 2 after the addition of dried food ingredient 30. As illustrated in FIG. 3, body portion 12 of utensil 10 fits within container 26. Flexible wiper 22 is preferably dimensioned such that the peripheral edge 24 can swipe the inside surface of container 26 to remove particles of dry food ingredients 30 which might otherwise adhere thereto. The substantially planer, food-contacting surface 25 of disk 20, along with the adjacent food-facing surfaces of wiper 22, are used to flatten and compress the top surface of dried food ingredient 30.

[0028] FIG. 4 shows the arrangement of FIG. 2 following the addition of second dried food ingredient 32. As illustrated, top surface 34 of dried food ingredient 32 is irregular, and particles 35 of ingredient 32 are adhered to the inside surface of container 26. FIG. 5 shows the arrangement of FIG. 4 after utensil 10 has been reinserted into container 26 to compress dried food ingredient 32, to form a substantially flat even surface at the top of ingredient 32, and to remove particles 35 from the inside wall of container 26. FIG. 6 shows the arrangement of FIG. 5 after addition and compaction of a third dried food ingredient 36.

[0029] Utensil 10 is particularly well suited for use with glass containers, such as Mason jars. One particular embodiment of utensil 10 is particularly well suited for use with wide-mouth, one-quart Mason jars. Such jars are often used as containers to package all of the dry ingredients necessary for making cookie recipes. Other applications involving other types of foods and containers are considered to fall within the scope of the present invention.

[0030] As previously indicated, the shape of body portion 12, while illustrated as a substantially flat circular disk above, may vary. For example, body 12 may have an undulating profile so that the surface of the dried food ingredient, as viewed through a transparent container wall, will have a wavy appearance. Alternatively, body 12 can have an angular configuration to produce a surface having sharp peaks and valleys in the dried food ingredient. Body portion 12 may be made as a unitary structure, rather than as a combination of one or more structures, if desired.

[0031] Although the present disclosure has been described with reference to particular means, materials and embodiments, from the foregoing description, one skilled in the art can easily ascertain the essential characteristics of the present disclosure and various changes and modifications may be made to adapt the various uses and characteristics without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention as set forth in the following claims.





 
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