“I don’t need fancy pots, or impressive tools I will rarely use, or single-use gadgets like avocado slicers or mango pitters (you already own these they’re called knives). In fact, to feel confident that I can put together a good meal using whatever’s around, all I really need is some garlic, a little olive oil, and a wooden spoon. For other people, the first two of that threesome will vary but the third should always stay the same.” - Lee Havlicek talks about the few things she absolutely needs in her kitchen, in her Praise for Wooden Spoons.
Wooden tools can change the cooking experience considerably. They have played an important role in kitchens around the world and for good reason.
Wood is sturdy but not harsh, lasts for years, and is one of the most versatile materials out of which a kitchen utensil can be crafted. Despite this, wooden utensils seem to have fallen out of favour in home kitchens. We rarely see more than one (if any at all) in the tangle of utensils on friends’ counters. They are consistently outnumbered by those made from other materials in stores. Many people neglect this beautifully efficient and historic kitchen tool, ignoring the many advantages wooden tools provide to the cooking experience.
What is to like about wooden utensils?
Wood is versatile
A wooden spoon can be used to stir any dish in any type of vessel. It can muddle lemon and mint for a whiskey smash, stop a pot of pasta from boiling over, and fold together the wet and dry ingredients of pancake batter. It is even much more effective in punctuating emotions than other utensils when waved around in gesticulations in the kitchen.
Wood lasts for long
Wooden utensils are very durable, and as long as you take proper care of them, you can expect them to give you long service. They are hard to break, and you can stir even the thickest ingredients or scrape foods off of the bottom of the pans. A little sanding from time to time can help remove burn marks and stains.
Wooden utensils won’t scratch your cookware
Wooden tools are soft and very gentle in use with the most delicate cooking surfaces. One of the distinct advantages of wooden spatulas is that they are not going to scratch the finish on your non-stick coatings. They also won’t scratch your cast iron or stainless steel pots, and in opposite to metal utensils, they are nice and quiet to use.
Wooden tools can withstand heat
Wooden spoons don’t quickly heat to scalding temperatures as their metal counterpart do. They won’t melt, even in an unattended pan. If you leave a wooden spoon in the hot pot for a long time, the handle will still stay cool. The plastic spoon will melt if it stirs something really hot or it rests on the side of a hot pan.
Wood is an inert material
Another plus for the wooden utensils is that wood is non-reactive and won’t leach harmful chemicals into your food. Wooden utensils won’t react with the acids in foods and leave a metallic taste, like metal spoons.
Easy to grip handles
Holding a metal spoon can be uncomfortable to grip, while hard edges can damage delicate ingredients. The wooden spoon handles are gently rounded and feel nice in your hand. And you feel comfortable while using it.
Another benefit of wooden kitchen tools is that they look fabulously beautiful and elegant. The creative and artistic design of wooden utensils gives a beautiful appearance to the kitchen. Handcrafted wooden spoons are truly unique functional works of art that make wonderful gifts.
Bacteria doesn't like wood as contrary to saying
Research indicates that the wood appears to have natural germ-killing properties. Wood is naturally antibacterial. Trees naturally fight infection, bacteria and mold, and even though it's no longer a living organism, the properties of wood are still the same; wood still has cells that don't grow bacteria or mold. When they're made, most wooden spoons, utensils and cutting boards are treated with mineral oils, which creates an inert, neutral surface that will not allow bacterial to reside.
Environmentally responsible choice
Environmentally-conscious individuals can choose wooden utensils with confidence. Wood is natural and renewable resource and more environmentally responsible choice. We can help save our environment by using kitchen utensils that are made from renewable, biodegradable and non-toxic substances.
Breaking the myths of wooden tools
Let's get into the reasons why may have disregarded the use of wooden utensils.
1. Wooden utensils are harder to clean than stainless steel or plastic cooking utensils. Or that food particles stick to the porous surface of the wood, therefore, you may worry that wooden spoons harbor bacteria and are more likely to contaminate your food than plastic or metal utensils.
While it’s true that if you don’t properly clean your wooden tool, it will retain bacteria, so will any other type of utensil! Thoroughly cleaning any utensil, wood or not, after it’s been in contact with raw meat, poultry, or fish is the only sure way to prevent contamination. Commercial kitchens sanitize wooden utensils with either soap and scalding water or a weak bleach solution, the latter of which is a bit extreme for home kitchens. The easiest way to sanitize wood that’s been in contact with raw meats is to put it in the dishwasher. Most dishwashers now have a high-temperature final rinse that will kill any residual bacteria that survived the detergent. Let wooden spoons air-dry after washing to ensure they are completely clean (dishtowels can re-contaminate wood and don’t thoroughly dry it), and you’ll have no reason to fear food-borne illness.
2. Wooden utensils quickly lose their glossy finish, and might develop splinters or cracks if they are not improperly stored or handled.
But this is a visceral and emotional reason for owing a wooden tool that comes from the comforting, familiar way wood feels in your hands, not cold and severe like stainless steel, or dull and characterless like plastic. Wood retains memories in a way that metal and plastic cannot. It shows signs of use. It changes color and texture, wears and ages, even changes shape. Lee Havelick from slate.com recalls “I can look at one of my wooden spoons and see a dent from harried Thanksgiving cooking, or a dark spot from summer blueberry pie. And when I use the wooden spoon that belonged first to my grandmother, then to my mother, and now to me, I cannot help but feel that I am cooking in the company of all past meals that the spoon has stirred and with the help of all the hands that have done the stirring.”
3. But wooden spoons tend to pick up stains if used in soups and sauces. Doesn’t wood retain the flavor of pungent foods?
It can, but there’s an easy fix for this: Keep one spoon for savory dishes and one for sweet. Do this for wooden cutting boards, too, and your apple pie will never taste like onions again.
4. Your wood has a glossy finish and it’s hard to determine if the utensil is food safe, especially for imported items.
A wood finish will wear off as you use them and you won't have finish particles ending up in your food.
5. Wooden spoons are flammable.
Well, so are a lot of things hanging around your kitchen. You shouldn’t be leaving a spoon anywhere that it can light on fire. If you do this with metal, it will burn you, and if you do it with plastic, it may melt. Best bet: Keep your spoons and most other things away from fire.
Wood is one of the most versatile materials out of which a kitchen utensil can be crafted. Many people neglect this beautifully efficient and historic kitchen tool, ignoring the many advantages wooden tools provide to the cooking experience. You now know the facts. Have a look at some tools for your kitchen.