Wooden spoons are ubiquitous kitchen tools, and yet they’re not all created alike. It turns out that the same care we take with choosing and cleaning our wooden cutting boards is just as essential with wooden spoons and spatulas to ensure that they remain strong for years to come.
First Off: Choose the Right Tools
Wooden spoons are the perfect kitchen jack-of-all-trades: they’re sturdier than plastic, making them ideal for scraping the fond from the bottom of your stew pot, but they’re softer than metal, so your cookware doesn’t end up scratched and damaged.
But not all wooden tools are created alike. In fact, some cheaper wooden spoons may be your downfall in the kitchen.
“We’ve all had those cheap wooden spoons that split and break,” says Lisa McManus, Executive Tasting & Testing Editor at America’s Test Kitchen. “Nobody wants to find splinters in their food.”
In addition to splintering, staining can be a problem: not just for aesthetics, but for the quality of your food.
“If you have a really porous, unfinished spoon, it will absorb flavors and odors,” explains McManus.
Choosing spoons from high-quality wood, like durable bamboo, beech, or maple, is the best way to avoid these problems and ensure that your spoon will stand the test of time.
But McManus also notes that the shape of a spoon is important.
“You need a front edge to the spoon that lets you scrape browned bits off of the bottom of pans," she says. "Some are too pointed to give you enough surface area on the front edge to scrape, or they are too thick or thin so you have to work really hard to maneuver them and be effective."
A longer spoon is ideal as well, to help reach into deeper pots and Dutch ovens. For McManus, the best spoons are at least 12 inches long.
With these characteristics in mind, here are just a few of our top choices:
1. SCI Bamboo Wood Spoon
A favorite at America’s Test Kitchen, this spoon is 12 inches long with a smooth surface and a gently rounded bowl. Light and easy to handle, it's an inexpensive but essential addition to any kitchen.
From the Organic Authority Files
2. Le Creuset Wooden Scraping Spoon
Touted by J. Kenji López-Alt at Serious Eats as the “perfectly designed” wooden spoon, this durable beechwood utensil from Le Creuset boasts a flat scraping edge at the end of the bowl and an ergonomic handle for ease of use.
3. Utensi Long-Handled Wooden Spoon
These beechwood spoons aren't just beautiful; they also double as measuring spoons, with tablespoon, teaspoon, half teaspoon, and quarter teaspoon sizes engraved directly into the bowl.
Caring for Wooden Spoons
Once you’ve settled on your perfect wooden spoon, you’ll want to take good care of it to keep it supple and splinter-free. For this, you can use the exact same rules of thumb as for your wooden cutting boards.
1. Don’t Soak
Wood is a natural substance, and over-soaking it can make it dry out, split, and crack.
“It can absorb a certain amount of liquid, which causes it to expand,” explains McManus. “Then it contracts as it dries.”
Avoid causing your wooden spoons to split by washing them immediately after using, thus negating the need to soak them at all.
Running wooden spoons through the dishwasher can have the same unfortunate effects as soaking them. Instead, simply wash them with gentle dish soap, and dry them immediately with a dish towel.
Moisturizing your wooden cooking utensils is key in preserving their quality.
“I think of wood like skin: keep it clean, dry, moisturized as much as possible, given that it's something you're using often,” says McManus.
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