Wooden Spoons. A very misunderstood and often mistreated kitchen tool. Do they harbor bacteria? Can they go in the dishwasher? Does the type of wood matter? Are there restrictions on the types of food you should use them with? In an attempt to clear up any lingering questions so that everyone will start using this magical tool (more on the ‘magic’ theory in a bit), I will give you the basics on wooden spoons (*please note that while I am referring to wooden spoons, this applies to all wooden kitchen tools).
- Do they harbor bacteria? Nope. Generally speaking. Wood is naturally antibacterial and mold resistant. Adding to that is the fact that most wooden spoons are treated with oil which creates a surface that will not allow bacteria to reside.
- Are they hard to care for? It does take a bit more effort to keep your wooden spoons in prime condition. You cannot put them in the dishwasher EVER. The heat from the dishwasher will irreversibly damage the wood and cause it to crack. You should always handwash with normal dish soap, towel dry and air dry to completely dry the wood. *Tip* Try to at least rinse the spoon off immediately after using so that food doesn’t dry and stick. You don’t ever want to leave your wooden spoon soaking in water. It can cause the wood to expand. For long-term care, I recommend using a mineral oil every 2 months or so. Rub the oil on, let it soak in for a few hours and then wash with soap and water. Do not use food based oils to do this (i.e. olive oil, vegetable oil, etc.). They can go rancid and you will end up having to toss the spoon.
- Does the type of wood matter? There are infinite types of wood available but my preference is bamboo (a fast growing, renewable source) that is both resilient and relatively cheap ($3.99-$7.99). Olive wood is another great option that is incredibly durable and receptive to numerous types of finish. The downside to olive wood is that it tends to be more expensive ($9.99-$19.99). Beech wood is usually the cheapest option you will find ($1.49-$4.99)but remember, you get what you pay for. It is a lighter wood and can break much easier.
- Can you use wooden spoons for all foods? Technically you can. However, I tend to avoid meat and eggs. While they are resistant to bacteria, from time to time there can be scratches or nicks in the spoon which can create a safe haven for bacteria that you may miss in the cleaning process.
- Buying tip – Look for wooden spoons that are carved from one piece of wood vs. two pieces. In my experience, the two piece ones tend to weaken over time and ultimately break.
Ok, now back to the magic. I joke that my wooden spoons are magic because when I use them for sauces or gravies, I swear they work better than my silicone spoons. The sauces are creamier, the gravies are gravier (my spell check keeps reminding me that this is not a word… ignore) . I am sure there is a logical reason for this but until someone gives me one, they’re magic.
Oh wow! I almost forgot the best reason to buy wooden tools. THEY ARE SAFE TO USE ON NON-STICK PANS!! You know, the non-stick pans that you no longer use cooking spray on.