by C.M. Mackenzie
Wood has long been used for eating utensils, serving utensils and preparation tools. Wooden spoons are a cooking essential and also a beautiful addition to your kitchen and dining experience. On the practical side, these lightweight yet strong utensils are great for tossing salads and serving everything from mashed potatoes to green beans. Wooden spoons are also the perfect preparation tools for use with nonstick pans. Cleaning and general care of wooden spoons differs, however, from the cleaning and care of metal utensils. Wood expands in water, so soaking the spoons in dishwater is generally not advised. Aside from a few basic rules of care, however, it is not difficult to keep wooden spoons looking like new.
Clean your wooden spoons well after every use. Fill a sink or bowl with warm water. Add a few drops, about one teaspoon, of liquid dish soap to the water and then add the spoons to the water.
Wet a nylon scrubbing pad in the soapy water. Scrub the wooden spoons until all remnants of food are gone.
Rinse the spoons well under warm water. Dry them with a towel and hang them (from a utensil hook) to finish drying.
Sanitize your wooden spoons. It's a good idea to sanitize your wooden spoons from time to time, especially if your spoons have come in contact with any surface or food product that may harbor harmful bacteria. To sanitize your spoons, first clean the spoons with warm, soapy water. Next, lay the spoons on a flat surface -- such as a clean baking sheet -- and pour 3 percent hydrogen peroxide over them. Wait fifteen minutes, rinse the spoons off and hang them to dry.
To keep them looking like new, oil your wooden spoons once a month. Rub your spoons with food-grade mineral oil or use the recommended oil from the manufacturer. The oil will prolong the life of the spoon. Hang the spoons up to dry after oiling and do not use the spoons until they have fully dried.
It is easiest to clean wooden spoons if you do it immediately after use, before food has time to dry on them.
If spoons develop a musty odor, clean them well with dish soap and a teaspoon of baking soda added to the dishwater.
Avoid using wooden spoons to stir raw meats (including eggs) or other foods that are common sources of food poisoning. Bacteria may get into tiny cracks in the spoon and multiply.
Do not clean wooden spoons in the dishwasher. The detergent and the heat can cause the spoons to warp or crack.