Wooden utensils have remained popular as a first choice because they are sturdy, durable, heat resistant, contain natural antibacterial properties, do not alter the taste of food, and look great.
Also, maple wood utensils are made to last, and if properly maintained, they will last a long time.
This article will spell out the best practices for cleaning and maintaining your wooden utensils to make them last. We will also dispel some of the myths about wooden utensil care so that you can confidently get the most out of your investment.
Wooden Utensils Cleaning Process
Step 1 – Rinse immediately after use
The quickest, simplest, and easiest way to ensure that food does not cake on your utensils is to rinse them under warm water immediately after you use them. Do not soak them.
Soaking wood in water may cause them to dry out, warp, or crack. Rinsing them will clean off any food particles that may be clinging on and prevent them from hardening and becoming difficult to remove. After rinsing, shake them to remove excess water and let air dry.
Step 2 – Hand Wash
Wash your wooden utensils in warm water with mild dish soap by hand. Use a soft sponge or gentle dishcloth and scrub to remove all the leftover food particles. Do not soak in water for more than 15 minutes.
Step 3 – Rinse and towel dry
What do you do to remove caked-on food, treat stains and eliminate odours?
All three of these scenarios use natural ingredients to remedy the problem: baking soda, lemon juice and vinegar.
Removing Caked-on Food
Caked-on food can be removed by soaking for no more than 15 minutes in a warm water solution of baking soda and lemon juice or vinegar. Scrub to remove the food particles, rinse, towel dry and let air dry before putting away.
Colourful foods and spices, like turmeric, tomato sauce or berries, will stain wooden utensils. They are still safe to use even when stained. These stains are short-lasting and will eventually fade with use and washing by hand afterwards.
If you find that they are not fading, you can sprinkle a little baking soda on them and use half a lemon to scrub them.
Although rare, sometimes wooden utensils absorb odours from strong flavours like garlic or fish. These odours could transfer to other foods. To remove the smell, there are three options.
You could rub a slice of lemon over the surface and let it air dry. Hand wash and towel dry afterwards.
You could also rub a paste made from a mixture of baking soda and water on the surface, let it dry and then wash it off. It would be best if you towel dry afterwards.
The final method is to rub white vinegar, hand wash and towel dry.
What do you do to restore the original smoothness of the wood?
Over time you may detect rough spots where the wood is no longer smooth, or the utensil may start to feel fuzzy. This is probably because the wood grain has been raised from soaking or prolonged use in liquids.
Thoroughly dry the wooden utensil
Before doing anything to the utensil, ensure it is completely dry. If you have recently washed your utensil, make sure that it has dried for at least 24 hours. You can now proceed to remove the roughness.
Use sandpaper to remove the roughness
Use 320-grit sandpaper for sanding the rough spots gently, and remove all sawdust with a vacuum. Feel with your fingers if the surface is now smooth. If it is, proceed to finish the sanding with 600-grit sandpaper, making the surface even more smooth. Afterwards, rinse thoroughly, towel dry, and let air dry for 24 hours.
Treat the wooden utensils with mineral oil
Once that is done, you should apply a thin coat of food-safe mineral oil. Use a lint-free piece of clean cloth to apply the oil. Let it sit for no more than 20 minutes, and then wipe it with a clean unoiled cloth.
If you cannot find food-safe mineral oil, canola oil will work. Follow the same application instructions for mineral oil if you are using canola oil.
JUstenbois Wooden Forks and Knives Restoration
Wooden spoons are the most common wooden utensil, but for those of you that have JUstenbois wooden forks and knives that require restoration to the tip of the fork tines or the blade of the knife, here are some simple sanding instructions.
- For the forks, use 320-grit sandpaper and sand from the outside to the inside no more than a few times.
- For the knives, sand from the top to the bottom twice on each side and then end with a soft stroke along the cutting edge.
- Vacuum the utensil and feel if the desired sharpness has been restored. If yes, follow the same process with 600-grit sandpaper. Thoroughly rinse, towel dry and let air dry for 24 hours.
- Apply a thin coat of food-safe mineral oil or canola oil, let sit for no more than 20 minutes and wipe with a clean unoiled cloth.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wooden Utensils
Are wooden utensils safe?
Wooden utensils are very safe, and studies have proven so. Their porous nature actually works to prevent bacteria from growing. The wood pores absorb and prevent the bacteria from resurfacing, making them naturally die, thus preventing spreading.
This occurrence is just like what a tree does to fight bacteria. Even though the wood is no longer a living tree, its cells are still the same and don’t permit bacteria from growing. Wood is naturally more antibacterial than any man-made material.
Hardwoods, like maple, have a fine grain and are not very porous, which reduces infiltration and further prevents bacteria growth. Another advantage of maple is that it will not crack in water. It is the cracks in the wood that cause bacteria to form. So, wood that does not crack will prevent bacteria from forming.
Not only does a wooden utensil have these natural antibacterial properties it also is a neutral one that does not alter the integrity or the taste of food.
A great example of how wood differs from stainless steel is to put a stainless-steel utensil in your glass of wine and taste what it does. Do the same with a wooden utensil and enjoy your wine. Therefore, maple wood utensils are the best choice for a healthy and safe dining experience.
Can you put wooden utensils in the dishwasher?
One of the most asked questions about wooden utensils is, “Are they dishwasher safe?” The simple answer is NO.
The ultra-hot water, strong detergent and drying cycle will cause your wooden utensil to warp, crack, split or even break. This might not happen the first time you put it in the dishwasher, but it will happen.
Should I boil wooden spoons?
Boiling your wooden spoon or utensil is unnecessary, as they are naturally antibacterial. Boiling will not remove any bacteria that might be present on the wood. In fact, boiling will actually cause the wood to crack and split.
The high heat and water will cause the wood to swell and then contract as it dries, causing cracks. These cracks will allow bacteria to enter and grow within the wood. So, boiling is not recommended and is harmful to your wooden utensil.
When should you throw away wooden spoons?
It would be best to throw away your wooden spoon or utensil when it starts to crack, split or break. These are all signs that the wood is no longer structurally sound, and bacteria can enter the wood and begin to grow.