Wooden Tools and Homemade Spoon Butter

spoon butter

One of the things I love about cooking is that despite all the modern advances available to us in the kitchen, so much of it is essentially timeless. Take for example how often you reach for something made of wood in the process of making a meal. I pull out my favorite wooden cutting board at least three times a day and reach for a wooden spoon or spatula all the time.

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The only issue with wooden tools is that on occasion, they need a bit of care, particularly in my dry, 20th floor apartment. I used to simply give my wooden utensils and cutting boards a quick wipe with straight mineral oil. About a year ago, I learned a better way from Stephanie at 3191 Miles Apart. Spoon butter (or spoon oil, as she calls it. However, it looks and feels more like butter to me, so that’s what I call it).

all the spoons

It just takes two ingredients to make spoon (or board) butter – mineral oil and natural beeswax*. Put a quart-sized jar in a small saucepan and fill it about a third of the way up with water. Put a quarter pound hunk of beeswax (it smells so lovely) in the jar and gently bring it to a simmer. As it melts, slowly drizzle in the contents of a 16 ounce bottle of mineral oil, until they’ve totally come together. Use a wooden implement to stir it together if it needs a bit of help.

wooden spoons on white

Once the butter is cool to the touch, start smoothing it into your spoons, spatulas, boards and bowls. Let them sit for a couple of hours (or more – sometimes I leave them overnight). When most the butter is absorbed, rub everything down with a clean cloth and return them to normal use.

One of the happy side effects of lubing all your wooden tools with spoon butter is that your hands will feel incredibly soft and well-tended (I think that’s why I like to butter my spoons this time of year, my hands are dry and cracked December through March). I also love how appealingly luminous all the wood looks after it’s been treated.

The spoon butter will keep in a closed jar under the sink or in the pantry for quite some time. It would also make a very nice thing to share. I’ve been imagining a wedding shower gift of a couple sturdy-yet-graceful spoons paired with a small jar of spoon butter and a charming note card with instructions on how to use it. Thoughtful and useful, don’t you think?

*I get my beeswax from Bee Natural in Reading Terminal Market. I don’t remember exactly how much it cost last time I bought it, but I don’t remember it being particularly outrageous.

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94 Responses to Wooden Tools and Homemade Spoon Butter

  1. 51

    […] Many thanks to Marisa who writes Food in Jars for introducing me to spoon butter! […]

  2. 52
    Beth says:

    I wanted to let you know that I just made this! It’s wonderful, thank you so much for the recipe. I liked the idea of putting it into little jars to give away, so I poured some into 4oz. jars and made a cute little label. I just posted some pictures on my blog if you want to see. šŸ™‚ Check it out at http://www.kitchen-55.com. Thanks again!

  3. 53
    NanaMolly says:

    I have been concerned with using a petroleum based product in this preparation since it will come in contact with food. I have wondered if anyone has found an alternative to the mineral oil that is food safe and will not go rancid? I have read about walnut, linseed, jojoba and coconut oils as alternatives but without reviews as to the results.

  4. 54
    renee says:

    I love this idea as I’ve had many of my spoons for ten to twenty years. Those poor uncared for untentils. I appreciate the alternatives to mineral oil. Would coconut oil work? What do you think?

  5. 55

    […] Wooden Tools and Homemade Spoon Butter | Food in Jars […]

  6. 56
    Bebe says:

    Definitely trying this with coconut oil as I buy it in a five gallon size and I know I am o.k. with eating it and rubbing it into my skin. Mineral oil gives me the heebie-jeebies! I know they say it does not absorb into our bodies but then… where DOES it go?

    Your photos are gorgeous and inspiring and I LOVE your collection of wooden implements. Thanks for sharing.

  7. 57

    […] learning to speak European.- Dorieā€™s BeggarsLinguine- Lunch ladyseries on Oh, Joy!- Abitare.- HomemadeSpoon Butter- This nail polish.- Cute behind-the-scenes J.Crew goesto Italy video.- This photoWayne took of his […]

  8. 58
    Mona says:

    Nice set of wooden spoons.

  9. 59
    Denise M says:

    I love all your wooden utensils. I think maybe I am going to treat my kitchen island wooden top to this treatment. I live in the desert, so it is pretty dry for most of the year.

  10. 60

    Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Thanks for sharing this wonderful tip!

  11. 61
  12. 62
    tjdavis says:

    The major problem with this recipe is Mineral oil really shouldn’t be consumed. It is a by-product of distilling oil for gasoline (honestly, I’m not being hyperbolic here.) It is difficult to find oils that don’t go rancid but that aren’t, well basically, poison.
    Would be interesting to know if you could use an edible oil with the beeswax to the same effect.
    Thanks!

  13. 63
    Jenn says:

    Just to make sure I understand…the water gets mixed in with the beeswax and oil, or is just used in the saucepan a la a double boiler?

  14. 64

    […] and they both are different but the same concept. The original post comes from 3191 Miles Apart and Food in Jars also made some check both out sites […]

  15. 65
    Trish says:

    Would it be alright to lightly sand the cutting board, wooden spoons, etc., before applying the spoon butter?

  16. 66
    Mayarose says:

    Here is what is recommended by Edwards Smith, fine woodworker.

    http://www.edwardssmithfinewoodworking.com/blog/2010/05/29/making-wooden-spoons/

    Sanding and Oiling the Spoons

    What remains is to hand sand the spoon. I do not go above 220 grit as these spoons are for cooking and finer finishes are not important. I oil my spoons with sesame oil. I used to use mineral oil but since this is a petroleum based product and not renewable, I feel more comfortable using a vegetable oil.

    I choose sesame oil as it has the longest shelf life of all the non-drying oils and does not become rancid easily. This is due to unique antioxidants found in sesame oil and not in other vegetable oils.

    I donā€™t recommend olive oil as it spoils very quickly and you get a tacky residue building up on the utensil. A food safe drying oil such as tung oil can also be used.

    Care of the finished product is very easy. Just wash in soapy water and let it air dry. Over the course of time the surface may become whitened due to fragmentation of the fibers with repeated use and washings. Just apply another coat of sesame oil and the finish is restored.

    For heavily used spoons a light sanding before reapplication of the oil is all that is needed. A well cared for spoon can last for generations. Below is a picture of spoons ready for oiling.

  17. 67

    […] art blog 2/ Food in jars 3/ A well traveled woman 4/Herriot […]

  18. 68
    Patti Lynn says:

    Comment 66 is just the comment that I’d been scrolling and waiting for….very authoritative and to the point! THANK YOU!

  19. 69
    Kat says:

    Marisa, where did you get your kitchen/tea towels? I’ve been on the hunt for some good, lint free ones that will last a while. Are they linen or cotten? If anyone else has suggestions, I would appreciate it!

  20. 70

    Im not sure exactly where to start with this but I think one can a lot better than mineral oil and beeswax while still being foodsafe.

    First of all, mineral oil is simply refined crude oil, nothing more. Sure, it’s been used for years as way to “unclog” ones digestive tract but would you drink 10w30? The second problem with mineral oil is that it NEVER cures or hardens. Pour a little blob on a plate and leave it. Come back in 10 years and it will still be a slimy liquid.

    Now, when you are cleaning dishes, pots, utensils in your kitchen, you use soap of some kind, right? Why? Two reasons: to kill bacteria and to remove OIL and grease. What do you think happens to the mineral oil you applied to your spoons, bowls and cutting boards? Yup, you leach it out, wash it away and your kitchen tools dry out, crack and split.

    Beeswax is virtually useless as a wood finish. It is incredibly soft and gets worn off (into your food. Mmmm, yummy) and washed away when you clean it. Seriously, to have any effect whatsoever you must use beeswax after EVERY cleaning. Are you willing to do that? Sorry, my time is more valuable than that.

    One of the commenters mentioned using sesame oil. I cannot comment of this because I don’t know if it cures and hardens. I make wooden bowls for a living. I make each one by hand and I sign my name to the bottom of each one so quality, food-safety, ease and durability are very important to me, my business and my reputation. Because of that, I use walnut oil, specifically Mike Mahoney’s Utility Finish. Walnut oil soaks into the wood fibers and cures thus, it doesn’t get washed away. It is completely food safe and I have not found a better finish for my work.

    If you use wooden bowls, cutting boards or utensils, do yourself a favour and order a bottle of Mike’s finish (over at http://www.bowlmakerinc.com). A small bottle will last AGES unless you bathe in the stuff.

    Hope this helps some of you.

    Kind regards,
    Steve

  21. 71

    […] spoon butter recipe comes from the gorgeous Food In Jars […]

  22. 72

    […] she used the guidance of two bloggers: Stephanie’s Spoon Oil at 3191 Miles Apart and Marisa’s Spoon Butter at Food In Jars.Ā  How I missed Marisa’s piece on Spoon Butter I have no idea. But I digress, IĀ appreciated […]

  23. 73

    […] Wooden Tools and Homemade Spoon Butter | Food in Jars […]

  24. 74

    […] some kitchen rags, a sheet of 150 grit sandpaper, a few tablespoons of coconut oil, and my jar of spoon butter. I found the whole sheet of sandpaper a little uncomfortable to work with so I trimmed a couple […]

  25. 75

    […] book… tres cool I everykid needs a secret hiding spot for treasures And this looks neat: Wooden Tools and Homemade Spoon Butter | Food in Jars Its Spoon Butter, for your wooden spoons And theres this Bath Salts Tea Bags | Runway Chef […]

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