Monday, November 18, 2013

Feeding my spoons

101 Cookbooks, one of the food blogs that I never miss featured a recent post about spoon butter. Spoon butter? I had never heard of such a thing. Turns out it's not something you eat, it is something you feed to your wooden spoons, other wooden utensils, wood bowls and cutting boards. The idea is that you rub it into your wooden kitchen items to moisturize them, prevent cracking and repel water. The wood soaks up the spoon butter.

Unfortunately many commercial spoon butters are made with beeswax and mineral oil – a by-product of petroleum production and not something that I want to ingest, even in small quantities. Heidi Swanson, author of the 101 Cookbooks blog, did some experimenting and figured out that extra virgin coconut oil can be substitued for the mineral oil. Turns out coconut oil is quite stable and won't go rancid.

After I read her post about how she rehabilited her wooden wares, I mentioned to Maggie that I needed some organic beeswax. Not a problem. She was out at Farm Dover getting her bee hives ready for winter and brought in some messy looking honey comb, which she put in a large pot with several cups of water and brought to a simmer. She then poured the gookey mess into a quart jar and told me to check in in the morning. Sure enough, the top was a solid layer of beautiful beeswax, which I scooped out and saved.

Last night, I melted the beeswax with some coconut oil, creating my very own spoon butter. I gathered all my wooden goods together and then slathered them with spoon butter. I left them overnight and this morning I gave them each a good buff. (Not only did it bring back the sheen to my wooden goods; it left my hands nice and soft.)

If spoons could talk, I suspect that they would express their gratitude for this bit of TLC. They just seemed happy.

This is the kind of task that I would never have undertaken in my old life in the city. In fact, I would have laughted at the very thought of it. I was just too busy and I didn't really care. If a wooden spoon gave out on me or looked too worn, I'd just toss it and buy another at Target. 

In this new life of mine, I am much more mindful of being a good steward of all that we own. In fact, I'm now thinking we may need to give our garden tools a good cleaning and rub down with linseed oil. Then they also would be happy.


Spoon Butter

Roughly speaking, a ratio of one part beeswax to ~three parts extra virgin coconut oil makes a nice, spreadable spoon butter.
3.5 ounces / 100 grams extra virgin coconut oil
~1 ounce / 35 grams beeswax, cut into small chunks
To make the spoon butter: Place the coconut oil in a mason jar and top with the beeswax. Fill a thick-bottomed saucepan with an inch or so of water, and set over gentle (low-medium) heat. Set the beeswax jar in the water. The water should come up the sides a bit. Allow the water to come barely to a simmer, and allow the mixture to melt, stirring occasionally, until all the beeswax is fluid. Turn off the heat, and allow to set. The oil is hot, so I allow it to cool and set in the pan, instead of moving it at this point. When cool, cover and keep in a dark place until ready to use.

To treat cutting boards, wooden spoons, etc: Start by making sure your wood surface is scrubbed very clean and is completely dry. Use your hands (or a cloth) to slather a generous amount of the spoon butter across the wood, working across the entire surface. Let sit over night. You can then use a smooth cloth to buff off all residual oil at this point. You should have a nice, satiny surface, not at all greasy. Reapply any time you sense your wood utensils and boards seem at all dry.
Prep time: 3 min - Cook time: 10 min

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