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A while back I got a set of wooden spoons that contained 5 differently shaped wooden spoons. Take a look at the following photo to see the different shapes.

enter image description here

I have mainly been using wooden spoon #1 because that is typically the shape I am most familiar with when I think of a wooden spoon. I have yet to figure out what the other wooden spoons can be used for.

Are there any specific applications that each shape excel at?

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Do you let these wooden spoons soak in water for a long time after you cook with them? –  OghmaOsiris Mar 11 '12 at 0:47
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Do your spoons a favor and keep them oiled! You can use mineral oil/beeswax blends sold for cutting boards and wooden bowls, or search online for many "spoon butter" recipes that people use. Some versions have different advantages, but basically any of them will keep your spoons looking nice and lasting longer than doing nothing. –  Sam Ley Mar 11 '12 at 19:10
    
@SamLey I think i got the whole set for like $2. The oil and stuff is probably gonna cost more than my wooden spoons itself. I'm not too worried. :) –  Jay Mar 11 '12 at 21:10
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There are other benefits - they are easier to clean, don't harbor bacteria as well, etc. But hey, I won't force you to oil yer spoons. ;) –  Sam Ley Mar 11 '12 at 22:00
    
@SamLey Haha sounds dirty 0:) –  Jay Mar 11 '12 at 22:03
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4 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted
+50

Great question!

Adding to the others:

4 and 5 appear to me home-made modifications of standard Chinese bamboo spatulas in order to use them for different purposes.

4 is probably intended to be a wooden fork, which would be useful for tossing pasta (together with another wooden fork or spatula). However, the homemade slotting is too narrow, and the "tines" to wide, to be really useful. You'd want something more like this:

wooden fork

5 is, as rumtscho mentioned, a folding spoon for dough. This one seems to be improvised out of a spatula, though; the more common shapes of folding spoons are like either of the below:

dough mixing spatulas

wooden mixing spatula

I think I might disagree with rumtscho about spoon #1 though. I use wooden spoons all the time for cooking and mixing, especially in non-stick pans. If what she's saying, though is that particular wooden spoon is not very well shaped, then I agree with her. The bowl of the spoon is too shallow, and you'd want a round handle rather than a flat one.

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Flat-ended spoons like 3 and 4 are for good for scraping the bottoms of skillets. Spoons like 5 are excellent for stirring thick sauces, as they let you easily stir the bottom corners of pans. As for the slots, I've never noticed them making a bit of difference, other than if you wish to taste the solid contents of a soup without making a mess with the liquid.

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Number five is a folding spoon. It is made for folding flour into light foams without overmixing, for example when making Genoise. The big hole makes the mixing easy, and the shape is good for scraping the bottom of a round bowl.

As Dave Griffith already said, 3 and 4 are for stirring stuff in pans and skillets (making roux, cooking off the liquid in tomato or pepper puree for ajvar-like condiments). They prevent the contents burning on the bottom, because they remove the very heated layer from the bottom and let cooler liquid flow in.

The slot in spoon 2 make it a poor replacement for a skimming spoon. Normally, you want a bigger perforated spoon for that, with bigger holes. Also, I think metal is a better material in these cases, it isn't so good to put wood in boiling water.

Number 1 is useless in cooking. Historically, these spoons were made for eating. When they were big enough, housewives just used an eating spoon for stirring, because this is what they had at hand. Nowadays, people don't eat with wooden spoons, but the tradition persists in that they continue using the traditional shape for stirring. This is a bad idea. It has the wrong shape for flat-bottomed pans and curved bowls. There is no use case for which the other spoons aren't a better fit. Maybe getting flour out of a package into a bowl, but being much flatter than an eating spoon, it is inferior also for this use.

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Do you have any support for your assertion that round wooden spoons were meant for eating? Because if you've ever had to resort to eating an ice cream cup with the provided wooden spoonlike object, you'll know that the mouth-feel of wood is pretty nasty. The eating spoons I've seen in museums are either metal or horn, not wood. –  Marti Mar 12 '12 at 23:04
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  1. as you say normal wooden spoon (I have tonnes of these but can't off hand think what I actually use them for)
  2. sort of looks like a slotted spoon but the slots are too small imo. That would be for stirring stews/soups.
  3. is the sort I use for frying onions or aromatics or I use two of this sort together for stir frying.
  4. I'm not sure about this..... it's not a 3, or a fork, I'd use it with 3 for stir frying as you only have one of 3!
  5. I use for anything that starts with a roux
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