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.
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).
It just takes two ingredients to make spoon (or board) butter – mineral oil and natural beeswax*. Take 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 a wide mouth quart jar and set it in the water-filled pan. Place the pan on the stove over medium heat and gently bring the water to a simmer.
As you heat the water, the wax will begin to melt. As it liquifies, slowly drizzle the contents of a 16 ounce bottle of mineral oil** in with the wax, stirring with a wooden implement until the wax and oil are completely combined. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully set the jar on a folded kitchen towel to cool.
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?
**If you object to mineral oil, you can also use coconut oil. However, there is a downside to making the swap. Coconut oil is more prone to rancidity than mineral oil and so it will shorten the shelf life of your spoon butter. Consider making a half batch if you plan on using coconut oil, so that you’re able to use it up before it spoils.