Wooden Spoons

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In addition to the usual assortment of pots and pans, there are many essential gadgets, utensils and other kitchen-related doodads that make home cooking and baking easier. For me, an array of wooden spoons are at the top of the list.

Most of us are familiar with the usual larger round wooden spoons used for stirring and occasionally serving. But take a look at the picture on the left and you’ll see that wooden spoons come in as many variations as their metal counterparts: slotted, squared off, spoons with small pinholes for straining, etc.

Wooden spoons with squared heads are great for cutting in butter or other semi-solids when mixing up a recipe. I also like to use mine to make scrambled eggs. As the eggs cook, standard practice is to push the uncooked egg into the center of the pan until all of the egg is cooked, and wooden spoons are perfect for this task. You should avoid using metal spatulas on nonstick pans; once the nonstick surface begins to get scratched off by metal utensils, you might as well throw the pan away.

Wooden spoons won’t react with acidic foods the way metal spoons might and their handles stay cool if the spoon is left in the pot or on the stove.  In addition, wooden spoons won’t have a meltdown like plastic utensils do when exposed to high heat. The best news? You don’t have to spend a mint for good wooden utensils.  If you can afford $30 wooden spoons from the wonderful world of Williams-Sonoma, have at it by all means, but expensive spoons aren’t absolutely necessary. Just look for spoons with either flat or rounded handles that aren’t too thin. Thicker handles will feel more comfortable in your hand over time, especially if a recipe calls for a lot of stirring.

Special tip: avoid washing wooden spoons in the dishwasher. The heat of the dryer can cause wooden utensils to crack over time. A better bet is to wash them by hand in warm soapy water, rinse, and then let them air dry.

L. Weal