Recently one of my favorite wooden spoons broke. It wasn’t a very expensive spoon, but I used it a lot. It had a long handle which I used to stir the gallons of ice tea I make through the year and also great with stir fry. Ok, let’s replace it! My mind wandered to my mother’s kitchen where she has a set of fabulous, well used, wooden spoons. The kind that is smooth, dark and nothing sticks to it, withstands just about anything, doesn’t take on odors or taste and doesn’t harm whatever you put it to. I am sure she has had these for the 50+ years they have been married. However, what I remember mostly from my mother regarding these utensils is ‘do not wash them in the dishwasher it destroys them’. I always thought it was the heat in the dry cycle that was the demon she referred to.
Just like a cutting board or cast iron pan, she didn’t want to lose the seasoning, the blessed years of seasoning. If you have seasoned wooden utensils already, consider yourself fortunate. If you want to preserve the ones you have, follow along with us.
If I really want to season a wooden utensil such as a wooden spoon, I would season it the same way as a wooden cutting board: Use a food-grade mineral oil and rub it in thoroughly with a cloth or paper towel, then repeat as necessary after it is dry.
One method suggest sanding and buffing. Personally I cannot imagine that sanding and buffing a wooden spoon would have any useful culinary applications, although I suppose it might feel smoother to the touch. I can think of an exception, which is if the spoon takes on a fuzzy texture when you get it wet. In that case, sanding it would be done in the context of raising the grain.
Before you use wooden spoons, you should season them according to the manner in which you intend to use them (see below). This will help them last longer, repel odors and perform even better.
You might be asking why bother when there are so many great new products on the market in the utensil category. Don’t get me wrong, I am pretty much married to my silicon spatula, however, wooden spoons offer many benefits when used as preparation tools when cooking and baking. Wooden spoons are sturdy enough to mix even the thickest ingredients and yet gentle enough to avoid scraping your non-stick cookware. And as a bonus, wooden spoons have health benefits as well, since wood is naturally resistant to many types of bacteria.
Clean your wooden spoons before you season them. Wash your wooden spoons with mild dish soap and warm water. Air-dry or towel-dry the wooden spoons until they are almost dry but still slightly damp.
If you find that you do need to sand the wooden spoon, use medium-grit sandpaper (between #80 and #60) to sand the spoons while they are still damp. Smooth down any splinters or rough edges you find in the wood. Making sure the wooden spoons are completely smooth before you season them will prevent food particles and liquids from collecting inside small crevices, causing harmful bacteria to grow.
Sanitize the wooden spoons before you season them. Mix one part white vinegar to five parts warm water in a dishpan, bowl or small pail and soak the wooden spoons in the mixture for several minutes. Rinse the spoons with warm water and allow them to dry completely. It may take two to three days for the spoons to completely dry.
Measure two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil into a small saucepan. If you plan to use your wooden spoons to cook savory foods, add 2 teaspoons of table salt to the oil. If you plan to use your wooden spoons for baking or sweet foods, measure 2 teaspoons of sugar into the oil. Stir the oil over low heat just until the salt or sugar dissolves. Allow the oil to cool slightly. (Omit the salt or sugar if you plan to use the wooden spoon for a variety of foods.)
Dip a paper towel into the oil mixture. Coat your wooden spoons with the oil and place them on a baking sheet. Put the baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for two minutes. Remove the baking sheet and allow the spoons to cool completely before using them.
You might be thinking…this seems labor intensive for just a spoon, but considering it just may be in your kitchen 50 years from now, it is well worth it.
I have finished the first seasoning on my new spoon and it is well on the way to being my new favorite, right beside my silicon spatula (but we will leave that for another day).
Felecia (with her husband Clark!)
I blog about things to educate, entertain, empower and sometimes just silly things I find.
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