8

There's this belief in my family that leaving the ladle in the soup is bad, but nobody actually seem to know why it would be bad; it's really just a persistent piece of family lore. I never really cared one way or another, but it really started bugging me now that I've started cooking.

Is it just a myth? Or is it indeed harmful in any way to leave the ladle in the soup for any extended period of time? And if so, why? Food safety issues? Maybe outdated food safety issues from the times ladles weren't made of stainless steel? Or it's just seen as impolite?

3
  • 2
    If your family cannot justify their belief with sound reasoning, you should ignore it. It's probably just a belief and has no real reason to follow. Anyway, I consider even just using plastic ladles in hot food to be potentially harmful as the plastic could melt and leech chemicals. But steel ladles are fine. OTOH leaving any ladle or serving spoon outside the food vessel to be harmful if you will use it again to scoop the food. Because you are exposing the ladle with food stain to pests, house flies & dirty countertops, then scooping food with it. I don't know how some don't find it GROSS!
    – ADTC
    Apr 27 '17 at 12:50
  • Reminds me of the story of the girl who always watched her mother cut the ends off a roast before putting it in the oven. When she grew up and cooked her mother a roast by herself, the mother was perplexed as to why her daughter cut the ends off. "You're supposed to cut the ends off, I learned it from you," the daughter said. "I just never had a big enough pan," replied the mother. Sep 14 '20 at 18:59
  • 2
    @NuclearWang : don't be dismissive of cooking traditions / rituals that we can't explain. I can't remember the food in question (cassava, I think), but there was something that was typically cooked in multiple changes of water, but during a period of lack of fuel & water (refugees?), cooks tried going with fewer changes ... and ended up sickening large numbers of people because the food had natural toxins and their traditional cooking process reduced to a safe level.
    – Joe
    Sep 15 '20 at 15:58
6

Maybe because the ladle gets hot and could burn someone?

6

If you had a plastic ladle, it may not be able to handle high-heat for an extended period of time.

If it were in contact with the bottom of the pot, it's possible that it would get above 100°C, and depending on the material, could soften. It probably wouldn't melt entirely, but it'd be shocking enough that you'd question if anything leached into the soup, and likely want to pitch the whole batch.

Most higher-end kitchen utensils these days are made from silicone, you're less likely to have the problem, unless you're buying discount utensils (eg, shopping at the dollar store, or the random kitchewares tent at some flea markets) or have older stuff (either inherited or from yard sales).

1
  • I'm suspect that Laurie Rendon's answer is more likely to explain a family tradition where the exact reason has been lost to history, as plastic would be a more recent issue : cooking.stackexchange.com/a/110693/67
    – Joe
    Sep 15 '20 at 16:09
4

If the ladle was made of aluminium (or aluminum, if you prefer), then it would be a bad idea to leave it in anything acidic, as it could contaminate the food with aluminium salts, which may (it's controversial) be implicated in Alzheimer's.

0

Someone once told me that leaving a metal spoon in a metal pot containing food is bad because of electrolysis. I've searched for confirmation online but haven't found any.

4
  • Electrolysis the the process of driving a chemical reaction through the use of electric current. Surely this does not occur in a pot sitting on the stove, which has no electricity flowing through it whatsoever. Sep 14 '20 at 19:04
  • 1
    @NuclearWang it's perhaps suffered a little in the repetition, but two dissimilar metals in contact with each other and liquid can cause current to flow (e.g. the lemon battery demonstration)
    – Chris H
    Sep 14 '20 at 19:45
  • 1
    @ChrisH : ah ... a good thought. If you had a copper pot and aluminum laddle, or visa-versa, you'd get a 2 volt battery. Potato & lemon batteries usually rely on zinc & copper. I don't know how much zinc was used directly in cookware, but pewter (lead/zinc blend) used to be pretty common for drinkware & plates, and I'm finding 'antique pewter ladles' for sale online. I suspect this is a more likely answer for historical context (even if 'electrolysis' might not be the right word')
    – Joe
    Sep 15 '20 at 16:06
  • 3
    "Galvanic corrosion" might be a better search term. Whatever metal corroded would likely spoil the flavour, and some utensils would be damaged. Culinary pewter (@Joe) is now lead-free, but of course wasn't always; either way it contains lots of tin. Tinplate has also been used, then of course there's silver plate, cast iron etc. as well as copper. Even stainless steel + aluminium could lead to pitting on the aluminium, while I've lost a thick layer of aluminium to galvanic corrosion paired with brass, in just water (not cooking-related).
    – Chris H
    Sep 15 '20 at 19:46
-1

While I agree with john2103 I would also add that if the soup is thickened with tapioca starch, the soup could un-thicken due to the possible moving ladle.

3
  • 1
    I have never come across a starch which un-thickens when stirred. Things like set gelatine might lose their texture, but not while hot.
    – rumtscho
    Oct 21 '14 at 20:56
  • 2
    Strangely this really only happens with tapioca starch. I never experienced this behavior with a roux with AP flour or potato starch. Oct 22 '14 at 6:35
  • Concrete: (Vietnamese?) (mock) shark fin soup or sweet and sour sauce. My mother says that tapoica starch should be used, otherwise the soup will be cloudy. Oct 22 '14 at 7:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.