According to Laborde, a learned anthropologist, “spoons are as old as the soup, if not as old as the world.” (Global housewares & specialties, 2007). However, the recorded history of spoons dates back in Egypt, over a thousand years, long before the birth of the Christ. These old spoons were mainly used as ointments. The spoon was a strong and important possession of individuals, and could be willed to another individual upon the death of the owner. History of Scandinavian countries and Wales depict that the spoon was used as symbols of love. The spoons would be curved by the young men, who would then give them to the girls, resulting in the term spooning.
Early settlers of America had the wooden spoons as items listed in their inventories as early as 1600s. The Indians also sold the wooden cooking implements to the early colonists. The Indians made the wooden spoon from Laurel wood. The use of the spoons was not limited to any social class as both the rich and the poor could use them. Today, the use of the wooden spoons still continue. Scientific studies reveal that for a better wooden spoon, the wood must be hard enough. For hardwoods, there are tighter pores that ensure that there is no lodging of food. The hardwoods that are commonly used are mahogany, alder, poplar, walnut, teak, chestnut, maple and cherry, among others. Other non-common hardwoods include the African blackwood; the Central American Brazilwood, boxwood and cocobolo; the Hawaiian koa and ebony, the South American lignum vitae; among others.
A wooden spoon is a very important tool in the kitchen as a kitchen utensil (Kitchen utensil identification, 1977). The major advantages of such a utensil are how it feels when touched, its non-conductive nature, less noise, etc. the advantages are discussed hereunder.
First, the spoon has a very smooth feeling, which makes it perfect in stirring sauces. Its handles are very gentle and rounded which gives it a perfect feel when held in the hand. As opposed to the metal spoons with straight edges which meet at angles of 90 degrees, the wooden ones are perfectly smooth (Wolf, Aronson & Fabricant 2000). A metal spoon can make a hand to generate a sore. Such a spoon can also damage the delicate ingredients. The wooden spoons have smooth and very gentle curves which are less likely to tear or crush the delicate ingredients. Another great advantage of wooden spoons is that they are non-conductors. When the spoon is left for a long time in a hot sauce, the spoon would still remain cold. In addition, when using electric cookers, there may be a leakage in electric current, which can be very dangerous when using metal spoons (Knaebe, 1998). However, with wooden spoons, there is no conduction of electric current. Metal spoons can highly scratch the nonstick coatings. However, the smooth wooden spoons have no such harms to the non-stick surfaces. In addition, metal spoons have a characteristic scraping noise which is bothersome in most cases. Wooden spoons are not associated with the above problems. They cannot scratch surfaces of stainless steel, copper, or aluminium. The non-reactivity of wood is another great advantage of wooden spoons. When used in acidic media like in tomato sauce or lemon curd, metal spoons react with acids in the food. The reaction can result into a change of color of the food, or making the food have a metallic taste (Knaebe, 1998). Wooden spoons are not reactive and can not affect the chemical composition of the food in any way. Finally, flavors are part of the wooden spoon.
Gail Sher, From a Baker's Kitchen: Techniques and Recipes for Professional Quality Baking in the Home Kitchen 20th anniversary edition, Da Capo Press; November 25, 2004.
Garde Manger utensil identification Hyde Park, N.Y.: Culinary Institute of America
Global housewares & specialties, Global housewares & specialties New York, NY: Datamonitor, Mar. 2007
Knaebe, Mark, Finishes for wood bowls, butcher blocks, and other items used for food. Madison, WI: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory, 1998.
LaGuardia Media, Kitchen utensil identification Hyde Park, N.Y.: Culinary Institute of America, 1977
Wolf Burton, Aronson Emily, and Fabricant Florence. The new cooks’ catalogue. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000
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