Happy Kitchen: Caring for Wooden Utensils

We've talked a lot recently about how much we love cooking and serving with wooden utensils. Silicone and stainless steel have their uses and particular beauty, too. But there's a tactile pleasure in using a wooden spoon that's all it's own.

Wooden utensils do have one downside: they quickly lose their attractive glossy finish, are prone to cracking, and are generally a little fussy to take care of. Here are a few simple steps to help you avoid replacing them every few months.

Always hand wash wood utensils with soap and warm water. Unfortunately, the harsh detergent and heat in the dishwasher will wreck the wood in just a few cycles.

Dry wooden spoons with a towel instead of letting them air dry. Residual moisture from washing will get absorbed into the wood, causing the wood to swell and crack over time.

And then once a month or so, rub in a little mineral oil with a soft cloth. This will restore the warm polished look and keep the wood in good condition.

Mineral oil is a food safe product that won't go rancid the way olive oil or other cooking oils would. It gets absorbed quickly, leaving wooden handles smooth but not greasy.

Since you're only using a teaspoon or so at a time, one bottle of mineral oil will last a long time. It's readily available at kitchen stores and online, and only costs about $2 - $6 a bottle. We've been using the Tree Spirit brand for several years with good results.

Yes, these extra steps can be a bit of a pain. But we think it's worth it to keep our favorite spoons and utensils around a little longer.