Food safety experts generally advise against using wood utensils on raw meat. Due to the nature of wood, your utensils may contain small crevices and cracks that can harbor bacteria from raw meats. Rather than that, use a heat-resistant silicone spatula that is more sanitary for raw meats. If you use wood with raw meat, take extra care to clean your wood utensil properly. Knowing the proper care for wooden utensils will extend how long bamboo utensils last. And did you know that you can get salmonella from utensils, too? Not knowing how to wash your utensils properly can cause food poisoning.
Wooden spoons are indispensable kitchen tools because they won’t scratch pots and pans, won’t alter the flavor of your food, and won’t conduct heat, posing any risk of burning or melting. They can last for years in your kitchen if adequately cared for.
It is critical to clean cookware by hand and avoid using a dishwasher. While you may not notice immediate deformities in your utensils, they will not last nearly as long due to the dehydration caused by the dry cycle. The trick is to properly clean and season wooden cookware with oil to keep it fresh.
Some experts recommend using coconut oil with a clean paper towel or cloth to prepare for wear and tear. Additionally, you can use grapeseed oil, which is a neutral variety. Typically, you can clean wooden utensils and cutting boards with oil and steel wool, allowing them to sit for about 10 minutes. Then, proceed to rinse with hot water. Warm water works, but hot water hits the spot or wooden utensils. However, some stains are unavoidable. When you cook with vibrant ingredients, such as turmeric, the color can transfer to everything it meets, and there is a good chance that your wooden utensils will become stained.
Do Wooden Utensils Harbor Bacteria?
For an extended period, the majority (if not all) of kitchen utensils and cutting boards were constructed of wood. However, at some point, plastic counterparts became more popular. These plastic counterparts were supposed to be easier to clean (and sanitize) and thus safer. However, in the late 1980s, UC Davis experts Dean Cliver decided to investigate whether plastic cutting boards were safer. Scientifically, the answer is: that plastic is not superior to wood.
Dean Cliver discovered that plastic cutting boards are easier to sanitize. However, cutting them leaves numerous grooves in which bacteria can hide. While wood is more difficult to sanitize, it is also (often) more durable in general – there will be fewer deep scratches on the surface. Additionally, researchers discovered that the type of wood used to make your cutting board and kitchen utensils would make a difference when they’ve become battered or well used.
Hardwoods, such as maple, have fine-grained grains, and the capillary action of those grains draws fluid down, trapping bacteria – which are killed as the board dries after cleaning.
While softwoods, such as cypress, are less likely to dull your knife’s edge, they also pose a greater risk of food contamination. Their grains are more prominent, allowing the wood to split more easily, forming grooves ideal for bacteria to thrive.
If you want to be safe, we recommend investing in hardwood varieties. Sure, kitchen utensils made of softwood trees are cheaper, but you are safer with hardwoods for hygiene.
When Should You Not Use a Wooden Spoon?
Generally speaking, the only time that you shouldn’t use wooden spoons is when preparing raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
A wooden spoon is a traditional cooking tool that is also one of the best kitchen utensils available. Whether you’re stirring a pot of stew or brownie batter, a wooden spoon can help. The first quality chefs value in a wooden spoon is its durability. Because wooden spoons are strong and durable, they are ideal for stirring thick mixtures such as cream puff paste and polenta without breaking.
You can use sturdy wooden spoons to scrape the bottom of the pan to avoid scorching whatever you’re cooking, but they are also soft enough to avoid damaging the pan. This point brings us to another of a wooden spoon’s advantages: it will not scratch your cookware. As a result, they’re an excellent choice when cooking with nonstick cookware.
How Do You Clean a Wooden Spoon After Cooking Raw Meat?
First, rinse the wooden item thoroughly with boiling soapy water to remove any bacteria. This is especially critical if the utensil meets raw meat or fish. Once rinsed, sprinkle a generous amount of coarse salt on top and rub the surface with a cut lemon until the salt dissolves. The lemon juice should assist in removing any odors, and the combination should help lift the stain. Once finished, rinse thoroughly with cool water and place in the sun to dry.
If salt is ineffective, baking soda should be able to assist. This method was the most effective at removing stains and odors from wooden surfaces in a Cook’s Illustrated test. Sprinkle baking soda and lemon juice on top of the item. Scrub the stained area with a clean cloth, then rinse and dry in the sun.
You can also allow your spoons to soak overnight in a solution of equal parts white vinegar and room temperature water to penetrate the muck truly. This will also assist in removing any strange odors. Then, soak, wash, and dry in the sun.
If all else fails, sandpaper can be used to remove a layer of old wood and scrape away stains. Additionally, this method assists in removing any loose ends from use and keeps your wooden items smooth and clean. Season your utensils again after sandpapering, and avoid using this method on any hand-crafted, coated spoons.
How Do You Sanitize Wooden Spoons?
Before cleaning with bleach or other skin irritants, wear gloves. If you’re attempting to salvage an old wooden spoon that you discovered packed away, disinfecting it with a very mild bleach solution can be effective. However, before cleaning with bleach or any other substance that may irritate the skin, you should wear rubber gloves.
Using baking soda and lemon juice, remove food stains. On the spoon, sprinkle a small amount of baking soda. Depending on its size, a teaspoon or so should suffice. Squeeze enough lemon juice to cover the spoon’s surface and combine it with the baking soda to form a paste. Work it through the wood with a cloth or your fingers, attempting to work in the direction of the grain.
Hydrogen peroxide is used to disinfect. In a basin, pan, or sink, place your wooden spoon. Hydrogen peroxide should be poured over the utensil. Work it all around the spoon with your hands or a clean sponge. Allow a few minutes for everything to take effect.