Despite being perhaps one of the oldest types of dining ware, wooden bowls have recently become very popular. There’s just something about a beautifully carved and crafted bowl that makes it a great option for serving up food for both casual and formal occasions.
While they make a beautiful addition to your kitchen, not everyone knows how to properly care for and look after wooden bowls. You’ll also have many doubts and concerns as wooden bowls are not your typical porcelain or glass bowls. One question that’s frequently asked is if you can put wooden bowls in the microwave. Unfortunately, you can’t.
Today I will share why it isn’t safe to microwave wooden bowls. I’ll also share some tips for you to care for your wooden bowls, to prolong their lifespan and maximize the benefits they bring.
Is it Safe to Microwave Wooden Bowls?
The short answer is no, it’s not safe to microwave wooden bowls. You will find that most chefs and home cooks will advise you to never even try heating your wooden bowl in the microwave. Many will share their burnt and charred bowls experiences, and some have even witnessed their bowls bursting into flame.
Why Can’t You Put Wooden Bowls in the Microwave?
So we’ve established that it isn’t safe to microwave wooden bowls. So now, I’ll share more reasons why you can’t put wooden bowls in the microwave and what could happen if you did.
Damage Your Bowl
Your wooden bowl usually contains some moisture. When it is being microwaved, it will heat the water content of the bowl – this is what causes your wooden bowl to be extremely hot. This causes the wood fibers of the bowl to expand and create gaps.
Eventually, your bowl may dry up and become wrapped, cracked, or produce splinters. Many experience that their wooden bowls begin to smoke, become burnt, or change their colors.
You might have heard that ‘force drying’ your wooden bowl by microwaving it is an effective method. Which, if done correctly, is perfectly fine. You can dry your wooden bowls by heating them on low heat or defrost mode for 30 to 60 secs while keeping an eye on them. Before you dry your bowls, be sure to test them out with a small piece of wood first.
However, if the wooden bowl is extremely dry and is microwaved for too long, it is more likely to catch fire. Just like all wooden things, they are flammable and a risk hazard. Sometimes, you may not notice your bowl has caught on fire until you smell or see smoke and fumes coming out of your microwave.
Tip: I would suggest avoiding putting your wooden bowl into the microwave. Instead, buy and use a microwave or oven-safe kitchen bowl. They are usually certified and tested to be put into microwaves and to heat up your food. Such bowls are commonly made out of porcelain, tempered glass, or plastic.
Can You Serve Hot Food in a Wooden Bowl?
While you should generally avoid putting wooden bowls in the microwave, you can still use them to serve food. Including hot food!
If a wooden bowl has been adequately cleaned and seasoned, there should be no problems serving hot food. In fact, wooden bowls may even keep your food warm extra longer.
This goes for liquid foods too, such as soups and porridge. Just be sure to properly care for and maintain your wooden bowl afterward to make sure it lasts. Some also suggest not to leave any liquid in your bowl for too long as it may damage the wood.
How to Properly Care for Wooden Bowls
Before you never use your wooden bowls again, hold up. While you should avoid heating them up in the microwave, they still make great additions to tableware at home.
It’s essential to learn how to properly care for wooden bowls, so they last for a lifetime. Wooden bowls need extra care as opposed to your porcelain bowls. But, I think it is worth it. So here are some tips on how you can adequately care for your wooden bowls.
Season Your Bowl
Just as you would season a carbon steel pan, my advice is to season your wooden bowls too. Seasoning your bowls will go a long way in protecting the wood. Seasoning will create and act as a protective layer on the wood against heat, dirt, and oils.
Most bowls may already come pre-seasoned, but if not, you should season it as soon as you get it. You can season your bowl with food-grade mineral oils or with natural wood preservers and conditioners. Occasionally re-season your bowl every few months or when the seasoning has worn off, and you think it’s necessary.
Seasoning your bowl is simple. First, ensure that your bowl is completely dry. Next, generously coat your bowl with mineral oil using a paper towel or soft cloth. Then, let it sit and soak for 15 mins or a few hours if possible. Once rested, wipe off any excess oil, and your wooden bowl is as good as new!
Clean and Dry Well
Next, be sure to clean your bowls well. You can do this by washing it with mild dish soap and warm water immediately once you’ve finished using it. After washing it, you should also dry your bowls immediately. You should avoid soaking your bowl in water as it may absorb water and become swollen.
I suggest wiping your wooden bowl dry with a cloth towel. Then let it air dry completely on your counter. Many recommend avoiding natural drying it, as it may absorb excess water instead. So be sure to soak up most of the water with your towel.
Once completely dried, your wooden bowls can be stored in a clean and well-ventilated cupboard. Don’t be afraid to stack wooden bowls or plates together; you’d be surprised at how durable and robust they are.
Avoid the Dishwasher
By now, you already know that water and wooden bowls are not exactly best friends. So, it should go without saying that you should avoid putting your wooden bowls into the dishwasher.
It may seem safe and acceptable to wash your wooden bowls in the dishwasher for the first few cycles. Over time, the heated water and harsh chemicals will start to strip and dry the wood of your bowls. Your wood begins to degrade and may even begin to crack or wrap, shortening its lifespan.
Dishwashers are fantastic to wash most things; however, it’s best to go old school for wooden bowls.
Invest in Good Quality Bowls
You know how the saying goes, you get what you paid for. And this applies to wooden bowls too.
The final tip to properly caring for your wooden bowls is to invest in strong wooden bowls to start with. Wooden bowls come in many types of wood. Some common and good quality woods are Cherry, Maple, and Teak woods.
Though wooden bowls may be pricey, you’ll know they’ll last a long time, which saves you even more money than having to replace them again in the future. You also pay for the time and craft it takes to make each wooden bowl.
Slightly expensive and good quality wooden bowls also mean that they are more likely safe to use! Sometimes cheap wooden bowls are mass-produced and are non-food grade. They may be made with non-food-grade materials and toxins, which refer to unsafe and detrimental chemicals for human consumption.
What are the Benefits of a Wooden Bowl?
Owning wooden bowls will definitely require more care and love as opposed to regular bowls. So why should you opt for wooden bowls instead? Well, other than looking great as a centerpiece, here are some other benefits of a wooden bowl you can consider:
Wood is a natural material. It does not contain any plastic, and often it should also contribute to less pollution, as it does not need as much energy as plastic or glass to craft.
Since it is a natural material, it is also biodegradable and should be compostable if you ever did need to get rid of it. Some may argue that cutting down trees is bad for the environment, but you can choose sustainable brands instead.
Wood is also a natural insulator. As we mentioned, you can indeed serve hot food in your wooden bowls. The wood will keep your food warm, and they also prevent your hands from getting burnt.
Unlike ceramic and glass bowls, a wooden bowl will rarely crack or break if it drops. A good-quality wooden bowl will most likely just bounce or roll on the group.
They are robust, durable, and long-lasting, especially if you take proper care. So one great benefit of wooden bowls is you can expect them to last you a long-time and you don’t have to worry about any broken pieces.
Safe for Our Bodies
Research has shown that when food is in contact with plastic, we ingest microplastic. It’s a no-brainer that plastic is toxic and harmful to us.
On the other hand, Wood does not hold any toxic properties if they are of good quality and season. Wooden bowls would be a great and safe alternative to plastic bowls. Contrary to popular belief, wooden bowls have also shown antibacterial properties.