Wood in the kitchen

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Wooden implement are better on pots and pans and not just those Teflon or similarly coated ones. In all honesty you should avoid such so-called non-stick ones anyway.

Metal implements should, ideally, never be used in pots and pans, even in stainless steel ones. Plastic, on the other hand, often nylon, is not heat resistant enough frequently and tends to have “problems” and what we do not know is how such heated plastics in contact with food may actually affect our bodies and health. A wooden spatula, or even the edge of a wooden stirring paddle, can even be used for scrape cast iron or steel skillets and pots in case somethings has burned on (after soaking it a little, the interior of the pot or pan that is, not the implement).

When it comes to cutting and chopping boards wood is also way more hygienic than plastic and also much better than glass, which some people are using. The latter has one major problem and that is that it dulls knives rather quickly and the former that any groves caused by the the knives used are real good for harboring bacteria. Not so with wood. Bamboo is also an option but bamboo does not come in slabs but a bamboo cutting board is made with lots of heat and pressure and also some glue.

Wood is antibacterial by his very action in that it removes moisture from its surface are into itself, that is to say the body of the implement, in this case, and bacteria need moisture to live and multiply, and that holds equally true for the wooden spoon, the stirring paddle, the spatula, or whatever, and the cutting and chopping boards and everything else wooden in use in the kitchen.

Wood is a renewable resource and kitchen implements made by the artisan spoon/treen1 carver will generally made from prunings and other wood which often would end up in the chipper or otherwise disposed off. Hence such wooden utensils and other wooden ware tick all the boxes in the “green department”.

The one important thing to remember with wooden utensils and such is to never, ever, put them into the dishwasher and one should not even put them into the washing-up bowl with detergent. If it should be necessary then washing the working part of the utensil under hot water or by dunking it quickly into hot water and washing it and then thoroughly drying that part.

Because of its natural antibacterial properties wooden utensils will, generally, require nothing more than to be wiped clean with a kitchen towel and then, with the working part up, stood in holder of sorts or placed in a spoon rack, say, on the wall. They should not go into the “cutlery” drawer (or any other drawer for that matter).

Wooden kitchen implements, as well as wooden spoons, if treated well can last for centuries and can thus even become heirlooms. Imagine still stirring your porridge or stew with an implement that your grandmother may have used or even her mother.

While hand-crafted wooden implements, and other treen ware, are generally more expensive – a great deal more expensive – than mass-produced they, first of all, come mostly from sustainable woodland management operations or from local tree workers and tree surgeons and hence are local wood, local to the area where they are made. Secondly, as they are carved with the grain they are stronger than mass-produced, machined, products and due to the natural drying process, in other words the wood is neither pressure not heat treated, are not tainted with anything either. Furthermore they are hand-crafted and, as already mentioned, carved or otherwise worked, with the grain and thus retaining the strength of the wood.

© 2020

1Treen (literally "of a tree") is a generic name for small handmade functional household objects made of wood.