For those of us here in Webster, New Hampshire, it sometimes feels like the world has moved on without us – and that’s not such a bad thing. We still believe a man’s word is worth far more than what’s in his wallet, we still make most of our decisions based on the age old adage “fair is fair”, and we still like to do things the way they’ve been done for years, which more often than not is the right way, in my experience.
So when I pass by the countless carbon copies of wooden spoons in supermarkets and mega-stores and see so many online stores shipping them all over the world, I often marvel how they can rationalize skipping one of the most important steps to making and preserving wooden spoons; the seasoning.
If you’re not sure what seasoning is, don’t worry you’re not alone. Seasoning is the process of treating a wooden spoon with oil to create a protective layer around the wood and though many consumers wouldn’t even know their spoons needed it, it is absolutely vital in preserving the life of the spoon. Not only does it shield against absorbing liquids, shrinking, cracking and warping but also helps solidify the strength of the wood so it will retain its natural shape, use after use.
If it’s so important, you might be wondering why the wooden spoon you pick up at the supermarket isn’t seasoned when you buy it. Honestly so do I. It’s probably just my New Hampshire stubbornness but to me, the idea of selling someone a spoon that is unseasoned is just downright irresponsible. But unfortunately that’s often the case. The truth is most stores, retail or online, don’t want to put the time or money in to do it. Especially when the sooner your wooden spoon is warped and no good, you’re going to have go back to buy a new one.
In all fairness, there are some companies out there who will tell you to season your spoon when you bring it home. This is all well and good but often by then, the wood has been exposed to different temperatures and elements so it’s too late to truly preserve the purity of the wood the way it should have been done in the first place.
That’s why I always season my wooden spoons after I make them. To me it’s just common sense. I’ve always believed if you’re going to do something, you should do it right the first time, after all who wants a product that’s half finished. Just ask any professional chef or woodworking expert and they’ll tell you a well-crafted spoon is nice but a well-crafted spoon that has been seasoned is hands-down a much better spoon.
This is not just because it’s going to last longer, though it most certainly is. There are many other benefits to a properly seasoned spoon. For one, food won’t stick, making it easier to cook and a lot easier to clean. Anyone who has tried to clean dried pasta off a wooden spoon will surely appreciate that.
Seasoning also brings out the wood’s rich, natural grain for a more beautiful appearance that won’t fade over time. And because many people love wooden spoons for the comfortable grip, it’s good to keep in mind that seasoning also helps keeps the wood smooth and firm in your hand.
The benefits are not just limited to the practical either. Every Sunday, at the local flea market in Davisville, seasoned cast iron pans always draw in a big crowd. People love to think about the different flavors that have been absorbed into the cast iron and imagine the heavenly smells coming out of the kitchen. Specially seasoned wooden spoons can also absorb flavors to enhance the taste of certain dishes. Though you certainly don’t want to use the same spoon for both sweet and savory dishes, seasoning the right one for each can make a difference between a good meal and an amazing one. It’s for this reason some wooden spoons are passed down from generation to generation. Along with the sentimental value of these beautiful pieces, many of them have been used to cook family recipes for years. Often, when outsiders try the same recipe they wonder why they can never quite replicate it in their kitchen. That’s because the secret’s in the spoon.
A good seasoned wooden spoon goes a long way. Of course, if you don’t mind replacing yours every few months or dealing with the issues that may arise from a regular old wooden spoon, then by all means, you have lots to choose from. If you want something special that will last, something you just might hand down to your kids and their kids after that, you might want to look into seasoned wooden spoons.