In addition to protecting non-stick cookware, using a wooden spoon or spatula lends a certain cachet to the chef that no other accessory can impart. But unless you're prepared to shell out some dough, most of the wooden utensils you can buy will be made of soft wood with a rough grain. You can improve the quality and lengthen the life of cheap wooden cookware by sanding and seasoning it. Even high-quality spoons made of hardwood should be seasoned to prevent absorption of food flavors and drying or cracking.
Begin by sanding utensils with 150-grit sandpaper, then follow with 320-grit. A sanding block may be easier to use given the curved surfaces of spoons and most wooden cookware. Rinse in water to raise the grain and allow to dry. If you have a Dremel or craft sander, use sanding attachments to make these steps even less labor intensive.
When the utensils are mostly dry, sand again with the 320-grit paper, then wipe clean with tack cloth or a slightly damp towel.
Rub mineral oil into the cookware. Mineral oil will not turn rancid, as vegetable oils will. Food-quality mineral oil can be purchased at any pharmacy or the health care aisle of the grocery store, where it is sold as a laxative.
Heat the utensils on a cookie sheet or aluminum foil in the oven at 150 degrees for twenty to thirty minutes. After allowing them to cool, coat again with mineral oil and allow to sit overnight before. For a still finer finish, first sand one more time with 320-grit sandpaper and coat a third time with oil.
When new, wooden cookware should be seasoned frequently between uses. For the first month, season weekly, then monthly thereafter. Season even more frequently when using utensils in acidic dishes such as those containing tomatoes. As your utensils become well-seasoned, less frequent seasoning is necessary, until once a year becomes sufficient.
Wash wooden cookware in hot soapy water. If you have used with raw meat or eggs, you can add a little bleach. Some experts don't advise using soap at all to wash wooden cookware and instead recommend rinsing in boiling water.
Washing wooden cookware in the dishwasher will shorten its lifespan and can lead to cracking, but if you haven't spent much money on it to start with, then the convenience may outweigh long-term preservation of the spoon.
The same techniques can be used for other wooden kitchen accessories, such as cutting boards, salad bowls, and rolling pins. When cared for properly, these accessories can last a lifetime and beyond.