With the environment and sustainability at the top of everyone’s lists, wooden tableware has begun to make a comeback thanks in part to how easily it can be recycled and that it can be made out of renewable resources, but there are some downsides too.
Wooden tableware isn’t as durable, it’s easy to break or splinter and it’s also not as easy to clean as other materials, meaning sometimes wooden utensils can pick up the smells and flavours of previous meals, which is one of the drawbacks.
One of the biggest benefits of wooden tableware is it’s made from a renewable resource and is totally compostable and recyclable, making it very environmentally friendly, unlike plastic cutlery which fills our landfills.
The biggest problem with wooden tableware though, is wood is absorbent meaning it soaks up bacteria from the food and water when it is washed, making it unsuitable for long term use. Some wood also contains strong smells and chemicals which could leech into food.
Wood can also dry out and develop cracks and splinters which could be a potential hazard when using wooden cutlery or tableware in case splinters of sharp wood ended up in food, although this is highly unlikely, but it is a possibility.
For this post we asked our friends from Such & Such and they gave us their list of the key advantages of using wooden kitchen and tableware:
They don’t scratch pots and pans
If you use non-stick or cast iron pots and pans, wooden utensils are gentle and won’t scratch any of the pot surfaces, keeping your pots and pans looked after and safe to use for longer. Metal utensils can scratch surfaces, not to mention being noisier to use.
They don’t get hot
If you leave a wooden utensil in a cooking pot it won’t conduct the heat and burn your hand when you go to pick it up again, unlike a metal utensil. A plastic utensil could even melt if you leave it leaning against a hot pot for too long so wood resolves all of these problems.
They don’t react with your food
Wooden utensils won’t react with the acid in foods unlike metal ones which can leave a metallic taste in some foods.
Gentle to handle
Wooden utensils are gentler on your hands and won’t crush or destroy delicate ingredients like herbs and spices.
Wooden utensils can have a creative and beautiful design style which will enhance your kitchen, unlike metal and plastic functional tools.
Can be durable
If looked after, wooden utensils can be durable and last a long time and you can always sand down any edges which are burnt or cracked from use.
Here are some of the disadvantages of using wood kitchen and tableware:
Harder to clean
Food can stick to wooden kitchen and tableware more easily making it harder to get it clean, and as wood soaks up moisture and wood it’s not advisable to leave them to soak or put them through the dishwasher either.
Wood can crack and splinter
With lots of use wooden items will lose their finish and can crack or develop splinters if they are not well looked after.
Wood stains easily
If you have brightly coloured food like tomato soup, wooden utensils and tableware can pick up the colour and stain very easily, which is then impossible to remove.
Wood absorbs moisture
Wood is an absorbent and porous substance so it soaks up water and bacteria both from the food and from the water as its being washed.
It doesn’t last as long as stainless steel
Wooden utensils and tableware will need replacing far sooner than stainless steel cutlery or china plates would, as they will start to show wear and tear fairly quickly
You can’t put wood through the dishwasher
Your washing up will grow as you can put wooden utensils and tableware through the dishwasher because it will ruin the finish and the wood will soak up too much of the water so you will end up with a lot more hand washing up to do.
Wood can’t be dressed up
Wooden tableware doesn’t have the same shine and luxury as silverware and china for a special occasion and it can be easily dressed up to appear more impressive to guests for a formal dinner.
As you can see there are plenty of advantages to using wooden tableware including the environmentally friendly issues, which is a big issue currently and is good enough reason to swap to wooden straight away. However, there are also a number of downsides.
The biggest disadvantage is the problem with hygiene, keeping utensils clean and the fact that they wear out and need replacing more frequently than other harder materials such as plastic or stainless steel. If you are considering wooden tableware you should weigh up both sides before you make your decision.