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May 12, 2011

Tools of the soup maker's trade: wooden spoons

Wooden spoons

For every soup pot, there's a perfect spoon, one that fits into the curve between the bottom and sides of the pot, with a handle that's just the right length. I could tell you that I have more than forty soup pots, and that's why I need forty long-handled wooden stirring spoons, but you wouldn't believe me, would you?

Wooden spoons range in price from a couple of dollars to more than $80 for a hand-carved, one-of-a-kind creation made by an artisan like Dan Dustin, whose spoons I've been buying for years. My favorite spoons are made of maple; it's a hard wood, free of any strong aroma, and the spoons last forever. I also have a good number of cherry wood spoons from Jonathan's Spoons. I look for spoons wherever I travel, and ask my traveling friends and family to bring spoons home for me, too.

No matter how many soup-stirring spoons you keep on hand -- believe me, it's easy to wake up one day and realize you're a collector -- and no matter how often you use them, you should care for each spoon by oiling once a year with food-safe mineral oil.

One word of advice: keep a designated spoon for soups that contain saffron, turmeric or curry paste. Not every spoon looks good in yellow.

Now, confess. How many wooden spoons do you have?


Posted by: janet | May 12, 2011 at 11:31 AM

Wow, I am amazed at your spoon collection. What a wonderful gift from travels. :) I must admit I am partial to my high-heat spatulas instead of wooden spoons. I have a few spoons but don't use them that often.

Posted by: Kalyn | May 12, 2011 at 11:50 AM

I only have about 5 wooden spoons, but I must have over 100 different kitchen tools in various holders on my counter. Love your spoons!

Posted by: susan g | May 12, 2011 at 07:02 PM

I do love my wooden spoons. They're not collectable quality, but real workhorses. My earliest ones are split, scorched and aged to a mellow color (and that's over 40 years). I love having one that's slotted, and a wooden fork that seems the perfect balancing tool for stir fries and sautes. And then there's the flat bottomed one that sometimes thinks it's a spatula. Recently I initiated a new set, but they don't replace the old. And there's a set made from bamboo, from the supermarket of all places, that I'm eyeing. Good for the enameled pot interiors, good for the quiet kitchen, good for the soul.

Posted by: susan g | May 12, 2011 at 11:12 PM

...forgot the rice paddles, much used for all kinds of things, and aesthetic to boot.

Posted by: michael | September 3, 2013 at 08:28 PM

Nice collection, I really like the one in the center! I also collect wooden sppons and spatulas!

You should try my mineral oil and beeswax mixture on your spoons. It helps to revive, condition and protect the wood, keeps them from drying out!

Love your site...I printed your chicken alphabet soup

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  • I'm Lydia Walshin, a longtime food writer who lives and cooks in a real log house. If I could, I'd eat Chinese noodles, grapes, ice cream and soup every day.
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