Despite the technology that advances and rages even in the kitchen, there is a utensil that resists the passage of time and continues to prove to be the most suitable tool for mixing sauces or sautés, preparing risotto, whipping dough and working food in pots with coated bottoms without damaging them: let’s talk about the legendary wooden spoon , one of the first examples of kitchen cutlery, which boasts many important and useful properties. There is a but: wooden kitchen utensils are destined to last a long time, but only if we know how to take care of them, and therefore we discover how to properly clean wooden spoons to make them really timeless.
Wooden spoons: characteristics and merits
Born as cutlery in ancient times, but quickly adapted to a serving tool, the wooden spoon is a resistant, effective, aesthetically pleasing and also “healthy” utensil: wood contains natural antibacterial properties, which it retains even after transformation into accessories, and therefore these spoons can protect food from bacteria, germs and molds much more than any synthetic object.
For this reason it is important to choose a well-made product, originating from hardwood, devoid of tannin: the most used trees are beech, teak (light and robust), oak, but also aromatic juniper (which, according to tradition, transmits its scent to food, characterizing them positively).
Wooden spoons are therefore a timeless kitchen tool and, if properly cared for, will last a long time, but there are some aspects to consider to avoid problems; Among the most common, for example, there are stains, crusts, burns and breakages, to which these products are naturally exported.
How to care for wooden spoons
Fortunately, most of these problems are reversible and, indeed, with the necessary precautions, we can ensure a long and effective life for our wooden spoon. It is a matter of respecting a series of indications and advice related to the management, cleaning, and treatment of these tools, which we can easily apply to our daily routine.
The first suggestion is to distinguish wooden spoons intended for sweet preparations from those used for savory recipes: wood is a living and porous material, capable of absorbing aromas and, without intense washing, of transmitting them to the next preparation. To avoid that our cake is contaminated by the scent of the sautéed onion that we have previously mixed or that our sauce retains traces of vanilla, it is better to buy at least two different tablespoons for sweet and savory and strictly separate the uses.
The other fundamental rule concerns the washing of these utensils: in short, yes to hand washing, absolute no to the dishwasher.
Putting wooden spoons in the dishwasher means ruining them: high heat and excess humidity can cause deformation, cracks and even breakage of all wooden utensils, and the presence of chemical detergents alters their “naturalness”.
Tips for optimal handling of wooden spoons
The secret to prolonging the life and effectiveness of wooden spoons is therefore hand washing: to be precise, the correct cleaning operation involves rinsing the spoons immediately after each use, because they tend to absorb odors and stains from food residues, which in this way do not remain attached to the wood, and not to keep them immersed in water for a long time, because cracks may occur in the wood. Instead, we must keep the spoons under the jet of hot tap water, removing food residues, and then add a delicate soap (nothing too aggressive and abrasive, because it could consume the wood) on a wipe, a bristle brush or a sponge to sanitize the spoon; When we are satisfied, we will rinse the wood again under warm water to wash away the soap residues.
To remove any persistent odors and food stains, we can apply a mixture of baking soda and water (with proportions indicative of a tablespoon of baking soda with a teaspoon of water), exploiting its properties to neutralize acids and remove stubborn odors that get stuck in the pores of the wood. As an alternative to baking soda we can use a mixture of water and lemon juice or vinegar.
The last spoon-saving trick is to dab them with a paper towel or a clean cloth after washing and let them air dry, allowing the wood to dry completely. According to experts, you should also put the spoons vertically and not lying horizontally, because this promotes better airflow and prevents the wood from expanding and breaking.
Tricks for the maintenance of a wooden spoon
Then there is a further trick that we can adopt for the cleaning and maintenance of wooden spoons, namely the use of oil: spreading a veil of seed oil, mineral oil or beeswax along the surface of the wooden spoon allows you to create an anti-humidity layer that nourishes and revives the natural material, keeping it shiny and healthy longer and preventing it from drying out and chipping. It is not recommended to use olive oil and other food-based oils because they may go rancid or make surfaces sticky.
In addition, this oil-based treatment is useful if we want to complete the process of sanitizing the wooden spoon: if we fear that our tool is very dirty and “risky”, in fact, we can disinfect it with hydrogen peroxide, which however can dry the wood. Here, therefore, the oil has a beneficial action and helps us to preserve our wooden spoon and prevent cracks.