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Spooning with wood

Wood has been used for making cooking utensils for a long, long time, and the humble wooden spoon has been an essential item for many different cultures. About 1000BC, the Egyptians were using wooden spoons, later on so were the Romans and the Vikings. Centuries later, enterprising native Americans whittled and sold wooden spoons to European settlers, and the country of Wales is well-known for its intricately carved ‘lovespoons’, made of wood, that were traditionally given as a token of affection by courting couples.
We may not be quite so romantic about our own wooden spoons these days, but they and other wooden utensils like spatulas are still essential items in the kitchen.
These days there are lots of alternative materials like stainless steel, plastic or rubber, but wood is still popular, and rightly so. In fact, here at CoolFoodstuff we want to encourage the use of wooden utensils ahead of those other materials. Why? Well, I’m glad you asked, because we’re just about to tell you!
Wood is clean
Lots of people think that wooden utensils can harbour bacteria and contaminate your food, but that’s no more likely with wood than any other type of material, including plastic or metal. In fact, research suggests that wood may even have natural germ-killing properties, and germs and bacteria have been shown to grow much faster on plastic and metal surfaces than on wooden ones. Any type of kitchen utensil needs to be kept clean and, for this, the dishwasher is your friend. Most have a high-temperature final rinse that is brilliant for killing any hardy types of bacteria that have managed to survive the detergent. If you don’t have a dishwasher, just hand wash your wooden utensils in nice hot water and a good detergent and let them air-dry, and you won’t need to worry about harmful bacteria.
Wood is natural and renewable
Using wooden utensils is environmentally friendly. Wood is a completely natural material that is biodegradable and non-toxic, and it’s a renewable resource.
Wood lasts a long time
Your faithful wooden utensils will give you many years of good service if you take good care of them. They’re strong and hardy, won’t care if you drop them, and you can scrape food off the bottom of the pan and stir the thickest ingredients with no problems. They won’t melt, and they won’t heat up and burn your fingers. Wood can occasionally scorch, but scorch marks can be sanded off if you don’t like the discolouring. Yes, wood can catch fire, but so can lots of other things in your kitchen, and it very unlikely to happen if you’re careful with open flames.
Wood is non-scratchy
Even with delicate surfaces and non-stick coatings, wooden spoons and spatulas will be gentle on your pots and pans. They won’t scratch the finish and, unlike metal utensils, they don’t make annoying sounds when you scrape them on metal pans.
Wood won’t affect your food
Wood is a non-reactive material and it doesn’t have harmful chemicals that can end up in your food. It doesn’t react with the acids in foods, so you won’t up with a weird type of metallic taste as can sometimes happen with metal spoons.
Wood is good for the senses
There’s something really comfortable and nice about handling a natural material. Wooden spoons feel good in your hand, and they have handles that are gently rounded. They can also look beautiful. You may be a fan of the traditional plain wooden spoon, but if you want something fancier there are plenty of carved and decorated varieties to choose from. Handcrafted wooden spoons are unique works of art that add to the décor of any kitchen (while also being useful) and make great gifts.

Are there any? Seriously – we can’t think of many downsides of using wooden utensils. They might develop splinters or cracks if you don’t treat them well but, overall, they are much more durable than those made of most other materials. They can tend to pick up stains if used in soups and sauces, and sometimes retain strong odours or flavours from pungent foods, but this is easily solved. If you are particular about your wooden spoons, it’s handy to have more than one. Some people like to have one spoon for sweet foods and one for savoury, for instance.
It’s true that wood does show signs of use by changing colour and getting little marks or dents, but that’s the patina that it develops over many years of faithful service. Look closely at your favourite wooden spoon that you have used for a long time and you’ll be reminded of the dinners you cooked, the occasions you celebrated, and the people you’ve shared your home and your life with. Wood is precious, and it holds the memories of times and events from our lives in a way that manmade materials simply cannot. To put it simply, wood is good!

Editorial Magazine

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