Wooden kitchen utensils have been around since man (or woman) first picked up a stick. Although the plastics industry tried to convince people that using wood was unsafe – studies since have proven that fact wrong. Wood spoons have lasted through the ages. Every time we visit any location of historic significance Tom can usually be seen gazing at the old wood work or looking at the old wooden spoons in a kitchen.
Wooden kitchen utensils require care – if you won’t take care of them – buy yourself some cheap plastic and replace them often. If you do want to take care of your investment – these tips will help your wooden spoons, wood spatulas, wood pastry pins and other wooden kitchen utensils look like new. Plus, it doesn’t matter if you need to take care of the cheap imports or a quality wooden utensil – this is the way to do it:
- Hand wash your wooden utensils! Use a mild dish detergent and wash the wood in warm, soapy water. Once clean, towel dry and then allow the wood to air dry. Do not allow wooden kitchen utensils to soak in water! Never place a wooden utensil in the dishwasher! Heat from a dishwasher will kill the wood and eventually cause it to crack. Don’t panic if you have a utensil distressed from being in a dishwasher, we can still save it…unless it is cracked!
- Most wooden utensil you buy will eventually develop a fuzzy feeling. That is known as “grain-raise”. The grain of the wood slightly rises from moisture and this creates the fuzz. What to do? Simple – if you have some 400 or 600 grit sandpaper, just lightly rub the sandpaper across the spoon and you will quickly remove the fuzz. Then wash the spoon and when dry, proceed to the final step. No sandpaper? No problem. Use a piece of old brown paper bag. The fibers of the bag act as a fine sandpaper and will remove the fuzz. You may have to rub a bit longer – but it works! Eventually the wooden utensil will become seasoned and not require this.
- For more severe problems, such as a burn mark, a stain or a dent, a bit more work may be required. In some cases, heavy sanding may be required. You can start with 50 or 60 grit sandpaper to remove the burn or stain. With a dent, you may want to soak the area overnight – something you don’t usually do with wood! Soaking may help the wood to expand making the dent easier to remove. Once you’ve cleaned up the area, you can move on to 80 grit, 100 grit, 120 grit, 150 grit, 180 grit, 220 grit, 400 grit and if you desire, 600 grit or beyond. The important thing to remember is that if the stain or burn mark isn’t gone at the lowest grit – moving to higher grit snadpaper won’t help. Higher grits simply remove the scratches left by lower grit sandpaper. Trying to remove a stain with 100 grit paper simply means you’ll work harder, longer and waste more sandpaper.
- To renew your wood, lightly oil it with mineral oil. Why mineral oil? Cooking oils will go rancid. We know, we’ve been there and it isn’t pretty. A rancid utensil can not be saved. Some people swear that olive oil will not go rancid – but it is a food based oil – do olives go bad? Peanut and walnut oils have also been used by spoon makers – but some people have an allergy to nuts. Mineral oil is non-toxic and food safe. It is sold as a laxative – a what? Don’t worry, you are using such a small amount there will be no problems. You can purchase it in the pharmacy section and a small bottle costing less than $2 – $3 will last you a LONG time. Oil your wooden kitchen utensil and you will see the beauty of the grain emerge. Allow the oil to soak on the piece for at least five minutes. We usually let them sit overnight. Finally, wipe off any excess oil and your wooden kitchen utensil will look brand new!