Wooden spoons are a kitchen staple. I personally reach for one of mine quite often, whether I’m sautéing veggies or stirring up a soup. However, a resurfaced trend on social media is making some people think twice about using these utensils.
The “wooden spoon test” is inspired by Matt Preston, a celebrity chef from Australia, who wrote about these particular spoons back in 2016. “On the surface a perfect present but stick an old one in a cup of boiling water to see what fate awaits all wooden spoons.” What he was saying (quite poetically) is that our wooden spoons might have more going on than meets the eye, even if we wash them thoroughly and regularly.
After his article was rediscovered more recently, the Daily Mail reported people giving the test a try by soaking their wooden spoons in boiling hot water for up to 20 minutes. Several users reported the exact unpleasant, murky results Preston predicted and even vowed to get rid of their wooden spoons.
Although I was reluctant to see what could be hiding under the surface of my go-to spoons, I went ahead and popped one into a coffee cup and poured piping hot water over it. Take a look at how mine turned out:
Not too bad. The water definitely looked a bit soupy after pushing out a lot of oil that had been absorbed into the wood. What was more interesting to me, though, was how I could immediately see bubbles fizzing out of the spoon as the hot water splashed into every nook and cranny. The porous fibers clearly hold in a lot more gunk than we realize.
However, instead of making me feel the need to toss my trusty wooden spoons out, I’ll probably just soak mine in hot water every now and then to give them a little extra cleansing. Preston, on the other hand, recommends replacing these spoons with silicone spatulas. As he writes in the article, “They’re hygienic, heat-resistant, and flexible, so they are great for getting into the corner of a pan or getting every last skerrick out of a bowl.” He’s not wrong about that — and I do love my silicone spatulas — but I have enough room in my heart to let both types of utensils stay put in my kitchen.
Go ahead and give the “wooden spoon test” a try to see if you feel the same as me — or decide to send yours packing to the trash can.