Wooden spoons are works of art. They give your kitchen a rustic feel and using them returns us to our culinary roots. They’re nostalgic – the cooking tools of our grandmothers and grandfathers.
But beyond their beauty, there are a lot of benefits to using wooden spoons. They’re a multifaceted tool that can handle a wide variety of dishes from savory to sweet. Their design complements other kitchen tools, and they help with the overall quality of the food we make. Here are just a few perks to using wooden spoons.
Not only can wooden spoons take the heat, they’re also strong enough to withstand acidic foods — Photo courtesy of Getty Images / zadveri
They can handle the heat
Unlike metal utensils, wood spoons are heat-resistant. Because they don’t conduct heat, you won’t have to worry about burning your hands on a hot metal spoon. They also won’t melt if they’re left in the pot for too long. So, go ahead, let your wooden spoon hang out on the side of the pan. It won’t betray you by scalding your hand when you get back.
Another perk to your wooden spoon’s heat resistance is that it won’t suddenly change the temperature of what you’re cooking. This is particularly helpful with candy making where a quick change in temperature can cause sugars to crystalize.
You can use them with acidic foods
Acidic foods can really do a number on your metal utensils and cookware and leave your foods with an unsettling metallic aftertaste. This is why, when it comes to cooking tomatoes, pickling vegetables and using vinegar, you’ll want to use wooden spoons.
Wooden spoons are non-reactive, meaning they won’t react when they come into contact with acidic foods.
They have no harmful chemicals
Unlike plastic spatulas and metal utensils, wooden spoons are a natural material. And because they’re non-reactive, they won’t leach chemicals into your food.
Plastic spatulas or spatulas made with non-stick materials can break down over time, which can leave small fragments of material in your food. It takes a lot of use for wooden spoons to begin to chip, split or fray, and if they do, at least they’re not made with any toxic materials.
To keep wooden spoons clean, all you need is warm, soapy water — Photo courtesy of Getty Images / Ahmed Benzerguine
Germs and bacteria don’t grow quickly
One of the biggest myths going around about wooden spoons is that they’re a breeding ground for bacteria. This actually isn’t true. Studies show that, despite wood being porous and retaining water, bacteria doesn’t grow on wooden surfaces and will eventually die over time.
Plastic, however, provides bacteria an environment where it could survive and even grow. It’s not been fully proven why wood can prevent bacteria growth, but some scientists believe that certain kinds of wood can have antimicrobial properties.
Don’t take this for granted, though. When taking care of your wooden spoons, be sure to clean them with warm soapy water, and let them air dry, as drying them with a dish rag can introduce new bacteria to the spoon’s surface.
They’re essential for canning
Being heat-resistant, non-reactive and a more sanitary utensil, wooden spoons are the perfect tool for canning fruits and vegetables. Come canning season, you can rely on your trusty wooden spoon to stir fruit jams, pickles and tomato sauces without leaching any bad flavors or chemicals into your food.
And because the act of canning includes multiple steps of sterilizing your materials, when properly taken care of, your wooden spoon will help prevent the introduction of new bacteria into your canned goods.
Wooden spoons are built to last. Since they’re made with one solid piece of wood, and not a metal spoon with plastic handle, you can trust that your wooden spoon won’t break when stirring. They’re also very easy to clean and care for. If your wooden spoons are a little worse for wear, simply sand them down a bit and treat them with mineral oil.
Wooden spoons are the Swiss Army knives of the kitchen. They can be used to muddle cocktails, stir a pot, mix both wet and dry ingredients, and scoop everything from lightly whipped cream to thick brownie batter.
Wooden spoons are safe to use with all of your cookware — Photo courtesy of Getty Images / Neustockimages
They won’t scratch your cookware
When working with metal spoons, simply stirring can lead to scrapes and scratches inside your pots and pans. Wooden spoons are softer, with edges that aren’t sharp enough to scratch your cookware.
This is especially helpful with non-stick cookware that can chip and flake unhealthy materials into your foods. It’ll also ensure that your cast iron skillets and stainless-steel cookware won’t scratch, leading to an increased chance of rusting.
Good for the environment
Wooden spoons are made with a natural material that doesn’t have a negative impact on the environment like plastic and metal utensils. They don’t require harmful chemicals to make and when they eventually need to be thrown away, they’ll decompose naturally.
Designed for ease and comfort
The sturdy and thick handle of wooden spoons helps home cooks maintain a solid grip. Their design fits comfortably in your hands, making it easier to maneuver when working in the kitchen.