Biodegradable bamboo products are attractive and safe for environment.
We have developed food habits over a period of time and most of the utensils we use are made of stainless steel. For our children’s party, we use paper plates and plastic cutlery.
The main problem with plastic is that they are not biodegradable.85% of the plastic at present is not recycled. That means it has to go to a landfill.
But the materials that go to landfill may not be biodegradable and over time the plastic will reach the oceans, effecting marine life too.
One of the best way to reduce this problem of plastic is to use bamboo products in its place.
Bamboo is a type of grass that can grow five feet a year and reach maturity in three to five years.
This is better compared to wood, which takes up to 30 years to reach maturity. Another advantage is that it releases 40% more oxygen than trees and prevents soil erosion.
For making the bamboo utensils in a factory, the bamboo is sourced from farmers and then cut into small slabs of 40cm long and 5 cm wide. They are then cut and sanded with paper. This is done by hand.
The making of spoon and knife requires a lot of skill. Each side of the knife has to be sharpened with sandpaper. It takes time, and care has to be taken that the knife doesn’t break.
Once the pieces are cut and sanded they are boiled for 40 minutes in water and vinegar to disinfect and clean them. They are then coated with virgin coconut oil to make them waterproof, shiny and soft.
Different bamboo products can be made like plates, forks, knives, spoons, scoops, spatula serving trays, tongs, straw etc.
For picnics, parties and other social gatherings we often use paper or plastic plates which are then thrown away after the event. Paper plates are not a problem, but plastic never goes away and causes pollution.
Comparison of Bamboo products with paper, plastic and wood products.
Bamboo cutlery has advantage over items made from paper,plastic or wood.
Paper is biodegradable, but the paper plates are meant for single use and have to be thrown away.
Wood is biodegradable and reusable, but the cutlery made from wood is prone to staining and splintering. Many kinds of wood, used for cutlery contain minute holes that are porous and can allow oil to seep in. Over a period of time there is an buildup of oil in wooden spoons.
The disadvantages of plastic have been already discussed. The taste may also be altered in plastic products.
Bamboo products have none of the above mentioned disadvantages. Bamboo is biodegradable and reusable. It is a tighter knit material which makes it is difficult for oils to get through. Natural bamboo allows you to enjoy the flavor of your food.
Comparison of Bamboo Utensils with stainless steel utensils.
Pros of Bamboo utensils-
· Steel can be molded in many designs, but bamboo utensils still look great and attractive in appearance. It is possible to get custom made designs for your kitchen. You can proudly display the utensils in your kitchen and your friends will be very impressed to see their design.
· Bamboo utensils do not conduct heat. When you leave a metallic spoon on a hot pan for a while it can’t be touched as it conducts heat and becomes very hot. But this is not the case with bamboo utensils. They can be used in dishes that require lot of stirring, like soups.
· Bamboo products are stain and odor resistant. In the metallic utensils we might have to deal with stains.
Bamboo products don’t absorb odor as compared to other materials.
· Since bamboo is affordable, the utensils are also cheap. You can get more bamboo utensils in the same budget as that of metal utensils.
· Metal utensils are not best for non-stick cooking surfaces as they can scratch these surfaces. This problem is not encountered with bamboo utensils.
Cons as compared to stainless steel-
· Bamboo utensils are not as strong as that of stainless steel. They have to be handled with care. Stainless steel can be handled in a rough and tough manner without worrying.
· They are not as easily available as that of stainless steel utensils. You may have to search for them a little longer. But they could be ordered online.
· Stainless steel utensils are popular due to their ability to transfer heat easily. This enables the cooking to be much faster. This is the reason people prefer stainless steel utensils.
· Cleaning both is easy, but it is much easier cleaning stainless steel utensils. They can be cleaned with a stainless steel cleaner.
· Bamboo utensils may need care to make them look good but stainless steel ones are generally easier to maintain.
It is easy to prolong the life of bamboo utensils if we take a proper care of them. To make them last longer rub food grade mineral oil on them with a clean rag which would act as a sealing. Ensure all the areas of bamboo utensil are covered.
After applying the oil, leave them for 24 hours to allow for the oil to set in.Now the oil acts as a layer of protective coating, protecting from water, and gives it a smooth and fine finish. It will increase the life span.
Never wash the bamboo utensils in dishwater as the heat in the washer would remove the oil coating and lead it to warping. Don’t soak the bamboo utensils as it too can lead to warping.
The best process is to wash bamboo utensils in a sink. Many manufacturers would provide procedures for cleaning them. Clean with warm water and natural soap. Wipe with dry cloth immediately as opposed to letting them dry on their own.
In order to avoid staining, clean them after use. Scrap the remaining food from the utensils with a spatula and wash in running water.
Never use chemical cleaning agents to remove the food stains. Use baking soda. Rub the baking soda in the stained area and after few minutes rinse off the baking soda. Repeat the process till the stain comes out.
Deodorizing bamboo utensils-
If you want your bamboo utensils to smell good, sprinkle some salt and squeeze lemon on the utensils.
Leave it for few hours. This will make the mixture penetrate bamboo and deal with bad odor. Afterwards rinse the utensils.
From time to time, you may need to consider oiling (i.e. re-hydrating) your bamboo kitchenware. Natural coconut, food or vegetable oils can all be used, depending on your preferences.
After using the utensils for a few years, you would find that the finish is not as smooth as it was originally. To improve it, use sandpaper and rub over the surface. It would become smooth like before.
If a utensil like the cutting board has warped, keep it in water for a few hours. Afterwards place it on a flat surface and keep a flat object over it. This will restore the cutting board to its original shape.
Bamboo cutlery could be presented as a gift on following occasions-
Earth day-The earth friendly features of bamboo would make them a perfect present for eco-conscious individuals.
Mother’s day-Due to their good appearance they would make the kitchen look beautiful. Mother’s would love to receive them as a gift and keep in the kitchen.
Thanks giving gift-The earth friendly features of these eco-friendly products make them a perfect gift for saying thanks.
Christmas gift- These aesthetically and attractive appealing products would be a perfect gift for moms and spouses for Christmas. They would love earth friendly products.
Bamboo kitchen utensils are becoming extremely popular among eco-conscious individuals due to their environment friendly features. Bamboo is a grass and can be cut without killing the plant. So it is a renewable eco-friendly resource.
Bamboo cooking equipment and utensils are very light, so they are just perfect for travel, picnic and camping. Since they provide a natural touch to the kitchen, they would make a perfect gift for weddings, showers and housewarmings.
So what gift do you intend to give this Christmas? I am sure it would be eco-friendly bamboo products.