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Mar 11, 2007 11:08 AM

Why olive wood for spoons?

Why is olive wood used for wooden utensils and other cookware? It looks good (but lots of other woods do too), but is there anything special that makes it particularly suited to cooking? Does it resist staining from ingredients like turmeric? Or does it not pick up flavours? I'm wondering whether it's worth the cost, or am I just paying for the romance of a spoon from Provence?

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  1. Olive wood is extremely hard; in fact, I think it might be one of the hardest of all woods. My olive wood utensils remain smooth and intact for a long, long time, whereas my regular wooden spoons start to fray around the edges fairly quickly (I never put wood into the dishwasher, by the way). I prefer to get my fiber from sources other than my wooden spoons.

    Try shopping around for olive wood utensils. They seem to be more readily available now, and are not as expensive as they used to be.

    1. I don't think it's particularly harder than many other woods like cherry and maple, but it is very tight-grained (a different quality than hardness) and pretty amply available at reasonable cost, since olive trees stop producing in commercial quantities after a relatively short (for a tree) time and are replaced regularly.

      I don't know kind of prices you've been seeing, by I paid around $4 for my latest olivewood spoons (within the past couple of years), simlar to prices I saw for cherrywood - if they're really expensive, they are overpriced.

      1. Agree with Mike. Olive is hard, but it's not any harder than maple. That's why you see maple cutting boards, not olive wood boards. Olive is pretty that's all. Nothing more; it's not super special :-) It has a nice dark and light contrast and the swirls make it appealing.

        1 Reply
        1. re: HaagenDazs

          I have about 10 different wooden spoons that I've accumulated over the year and the best by far is a Spanish olive wood spoon that I picked up for about $2 at a craft/antique store about 10 years ago. It may not be because it's the hardest of woods but it stays smoother than any other spoon I've ever used.

        2. I have found over the years the wooden utensils that get the smoothest and hold up best are the ones I keep out of the D/W and oil regulalry wiht mineral oil. Even a nice smooth olive wood spoon will get rough if allowed into the D/W and not oiled regularly.

          1 Reply
          1. re: tim irvine

            I don't have a dishwasher so all of my utensils are kept out of the dishwasher. I do use mineral oil, but I use it on everything wood -- wooden spoons of all types, cutting boards, and spatula handles. I'm still having by far the best performance from my two made in Spain Olive wood spoons.

          2. Olive tree wood isn't any better than other types of wood. Is is quite distinctive in the grain pattern and colors but isn't that much harder or sturdier.

            Why olive wood; it is sold as an "exotic" wood and the prices are jacked up. Here in the USA, higher prices must mean higher quality and we Americans fall for it every time.