The Nifty Wooden Spoon & A Little TLC

This handy gadget can be found in nearly every kitchen but did you know it can thrive for years with a little TLC? My utensil crock is always stuffed with a few and I couldn’t do without them, they are my go-to for nearly every cooking and mixing job.

VarietyHere’s a sheet of quick tips to help you get the most out of them (general cleaning, seasoning, oiling, removing odors, etc.) and then at the bottom of the page I’ve listed a few nifty ways they can come in handy around the home.

When to use them: They’re ideal for using with non-stick cookware since they won’t damage the surface, stirring bubbling hot sauces, stews, stir fries, etc. (because the heat won’t travel up the handle) and even for general mixing and baking.

Aren’t they bacteria traps or unsafe for cooking? With proper care, they’re no more dangerous than other materials. Wood is naturally anti-bacterial, so unless you’re using items that are split or deeply cracked enough that they’re harboring food for who knows how long, they’re perfectly fine.

General cleaning: Simply hand wash in warm, soapy water (using your regular liquid dish detergent), rinse well then wipe or allow to air dry.

Can they be washed in the dishwasher? Sure! But they will break down quicker over time (may even warp) and will need replacing more frequently. If you have a favorite, good-quality spoon that can’t easily be replaced…stick with hand washing. Another tip: avoid letting them sit in dirty dishwater, wash them soon after using.

To sanitize: Wash in very warm soapy water, rinse then soak in a 50/50 vinegar and water solution for about 5 minutes. Rinse, pat with a dry cloth to remove excess moisture then allow to air dry.

How to oil or season: Wipe it generously with warmed olive oil (a paper towel works fine for this) then pop it in the oven for 2 or 3 minutes (350 degrees). Optional: Add a generous pinch of salt to the oil if you plan on using it for cooking, or a generous pinch of sugar if you’ll be setting it aside for baking. Can’t be bothered with the heating process? You can use mineral or almond oil instead and allow to sit for 24 hours before using. To help the oil really soak in and work its magic, generously wrap in plastic wrap and leave overnight. You could also soak in a salt water solution for a few hours, pat dry then oil.

Why oil them? This helps seal and nurture the wood so it lasts longer. Is it necessary? No.

Odor buster: Sweeten it by soaking in a baking soda/water solution (a couple tablespoons of baking soda per 2 cups of warm water should do it). Leave for about 15 or 20 minutes and rinse well. You could also make a baking soda and water paste then rub it into the wood, leave for about 45 minutes to an hour then rinse off.

When to chuck them: When they start to split, crack or develop slivers, these gaps can trap food.

How to get rid of stains or roughness? Try rubbing out trouble spots with a piece of sandpaper. You can also try soaking in vinegar and water for about an hour before sanding.

We know wooden spoons are great for cooking and mixing ingredients, here are a few nifty ways they come in handy around the kitchen and house:

  • Test oil for frying: Dip the end into the hot oil and tiny bubbles will form on the tip when the oil is hot enough for frying.
  • Seamstress helper: Use the handle to press open small seams.
  • In the garden: Mark the desired depth at the end of the handle then use it as a guide when planting seeds (press handle into soil to desired depth).
  • Duct tape saver: Keep a stash of duct tape on hand at all times by wrapping the handle several times with the tape…just pull off the amount you need as you need it.
  • Homemaker helper: Use the long handle to push sheets under the mattress.
  • Making cookie rolls: After baking, roll each hot cookie around the handle (see for a recipe).
  • Pasta helper: If you leave one in the pan while pasta boils, it helps prevent the pasta from sticking together (shared by Karen in the comment section of the Pasta Pleasers page).
  • In the kitchen: Place one across the top of a pot of boiling water and it will help prevent messy boilovers. Source: Lifehacker.

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What Readers Are Saying: 9 Comments
  1. Susan says:

    Also good for a smack on the bottom to a recalcitrant toddler ;D

    • Megan D says:

      My mom’s nickname for the wooden spoon was “Paddy Wacker” 🙂

      • Crystal from Mississauga (Toronto's little sister!) says:

        We used to have one in a drawer with “Kid Tamer” on the handle, mom used to spank me on the palm with it…I still don’t like wooden spoons today! 🙁

      • chloe williams says:

        so was mine

        • SamiJo says:

          One of my aunties had this wooden paddle that she’d painted red & had my uncle drill 9 holes in it. This auntie’s son & I were more like siblings than cousins, so of course we got into LOTS of trouble & were the 2 who were most familiar w/that paddle; hwr, her oldest daughter, son, & I could get pretty rowdy too. Her son & I used to get busted for slipping off to the local pool hall, which of course incl’d a couple well-played (*cough ‘hustled*) games of pool. Somehow, just as we’d thought we had gotten away w/our $20 win, we’d get busted. Not only did we lose our cash, we’d lose a few layers of skin. Only improvement as teens was that we lived in bayou area of Louisiana & would slip off to New Orleans & the French Quarter for weekends of bars, jazz & blues clubs, lots of drinking, sleeping in the car, & by the time we rolled out in the mornings (more like mid-day) there was brunch/lunch at Cafe du Monde for beignets & cafe au lait. ??Thankfully, the butt-whipping didn’t occur until we showed up back home looking like we’d slept in our clothes & camped out in the car for 2 nights smelling like a cross btw a brewery & distillery filled w/lots of tobacco & caught on fire. ?????LMAO! Some of the best times in my life were spent w/my cousin(s) & friends doing crazy stuff like that. Oh I was paranoid when my kids came along. Thankfully they were much more responsible than I was.

  2. Ruth says:

    The Dermatologist suggested to an elderly woman who lives alone that she put lotion on the back of a wooden spoon and use it to rub the lotion on her back.

  3. kelly says:

    When a wooden spoon looses its rubber spatula, or is no longer viable for kitchen use, one is left with a wooden stick which can be used many ways in the laundry room. Use to push around uneven loads, scraping mud (always allow to dry completely beforehand) from shoes or clothes, lifting articles of clothing with yucky stuff, use with dirty cloth diapers, use to reach articles of clothing stuck between washer and/or dryer….many uses.

  4. Jane says:

    My niece makes something she calls “spoon butter” – it’s a mixture of bees wax (grated) and coconut oil. Put the coconut oil and beeswax (3to 4 parts coconut oil to 1 part beeswax) in a container (she uses a glass heat resistant dish like pyrex) place in a pan with water and heat on low till water is hot and oils melt. Stir to combine and let cool. It will solidify. Cover and store in a dark place. Use this to slather onto wooden spoons, wood bowls and cutting boards (clean ones). Let set overnight then buff with a soft absorbent cloth. Your wood spoons will look so nice! She stores this in small jelly jars and they look very pretty – it evens softens your hands!

  5. gary says:

    also known as knuckle buster

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