Most of us use wooden kitchen utensils like spoons and spatulas quite often. It’s a rare day that I don’t use at least one of these handy tools. But, like everything else in the kitchen our wooden utensils need care. Here are some helpful tips on caring for your wooden kitchen utensils.
General care: Wash your wooden utensils by hand in warm water using a mild soap. Dry them by hand as air drying can allow residual moisture to seep into the wood. This will cause them, over time, to swell and crack. Once a month treat them to a wood butter or mineral oil massage to keep them conditioned.
If the finish is stripped: Heavy or long-term use can cause the finish to be stripped from your wooden utensils. Don’t throw them out. Sand the utensil with coarse-grit sandpaper or steel wool. Be sure to even out irregular areas. Then repeat with medium-grit paper and finally a fine-grit sandpaper. You want to get all the old finish completely off the utensil. Use a slightly damp cloth to remove every trace of sandpaper dust or steel wool residue. Finish by using a clean, dry cloth to apply wood butter or mineral oil. Let the utensil cure for a few hours then reapply. Repeat this process until the utensil no longer absorbs the wood butter or mineral oil. Let the utensil sit for a few hours then remove any remaining oil with a clean, dry cloth.
The utensil feels rough: With repeated use and cleaning the grain of the wood will rise from moisture. This causes it to have a slightly rough feel. Fix this by sanding lightly with a fine-grain sandpaper or steel wool until the surface is smooth again. Wipe with a clean, damp cloth and apply a coat of wood butter or mineral oil.
The utensil has cooked on food: Food tends to stick to unseasoned wooden utensils and this makes cleaning them harder. If you’ve ever cooked a scrambled egg using a wooden utensil you know what I mean. Rinse the utensils in cool water immediately after use. Hot water will continue cooking the food and make it even more difficult to remove.
Food has stained your utensil: Certain foods, especially highly colored spices, will stain your spoon. Clean the stains by sprinkling coarse salt on the utensil then adding lemon juice to the salt. Rub the mixture with a clean, dry cloth. If any of the stain remains use baking soda and lemon juice to remove the residual stain. Rinse the utensil immediately and dry with a clean towel. Really tough stains that have set on may need to be sanded off. Follow the directions for stripped finish for those stains.
Your utensil has a foul smell: If you’ve cooked something that has a really strong scent your utensil may start to smell less than lovely. Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water and soak the utensil for 10 minutes. If the utensil still has an odor mix a paste of baking soda and lemon juice and apply it to the utensil. Let this paste sit for 30 minutes then rinse and dry the utensil immediately.
Remember to season your wooden utensils once a month and smooth them as needed. Your wooden kitchen utensils will give you years and years of use.