Toothpicks have become essential cooking tools. You can use toothpicks to bind foods together or check the state of the cake you’re baking.
Using toothpicks to bind food together has been a popular strategy for ages. Most people even prefer using colored toothpicks for cooking to make the food appear colorful and appealing.
But we can’t ignore the questions many are asking regarding the possible health concerns of using these colored toothpicks for cooking. People are asking questions like, “are colored toothpicks safe to cook with?“, “Are toothpicks microwave oven safe?”
The questions about toothpicks are thought-provoking and worth discussing. They’re also worth your time if you cook or plan to cook foods that require using toothpicks.
Now, let’s dive in and address the numerous questions.
Are Colored Toothpicks Food Safe?
Yes, colored toothpicks are food safe. The coloring you see on the toothpick is food grade. In other words, you won’t die when you consume foods bonded together with colored toothpicks.
The only issue you might encounter is that the color on the toothpick might bleed into your food. But there’s no cause for alarm. Even if you consume meat or any food-stained with color from a toothpick, you won’t suffer any health risks.
By law, understand that colors used in making products such as toothpicks used in cooking are safe. They are food-grade colors.
A Handy Tip: When purchasing colored toothpicks, buy from a reputable company. Such companies will follow the guidelines for the safety of food-related products, as they have more to lose if they don’t.
Can You Bake With Colored Toothpicks?
The straightforward answer is yes. You can bake with colored toothpicks. As explained earlier, toothpicks are dyed with food-grade colors. So, you won’t suffer any health damage when you use colored toothpicks for baking.
But there are things you must avoid. One of them is using colored toothpicks with frills. It doesn’t matter whether the frills are made of paper or cellophane. Just avoid using such toothpicks for baking.
Why is this important? The heat in the oven could cause the paper to ignite and start a fire or melt the cellophane.
If you fancy using toothpicks with frills to decorate your foods, use the one without frills to cook the food first. When you finish cooking, you can insert a toothpick with frills to get the appeal you seek.
Are Toothpicks Microwave Safe?
No, it’s not safe. Note that anything that comes to a point could cause a spark and fire in a microwave. Sharp objects that are nonmetal, such as toothpicks, can cause a phenomenon called “arching.” In other words, you’ll see sparks flying inside the microwave when in use.
Now, let’s get one thing clear. The microwave’s radiation won’t affect the wooden material used in making the toothpick. But if the toothpick eventually gets wet, which is highly likely to happen, there’s a problem. The wet toothpick will become conductive and short circuit your appliance.
So, avoid putting toothpicks in the microwave. It is not recommended.
Are Toothpicks Toxic?
No, toothpicks made from plain wood aren’t toxic. Even the colored toothpicks aren’t toxic because they come dyed with food-grade colors.
So, even if the wooden toothpick chars or burns in the oven, it is still non-toxic. You can consume such foods without fear of suffering a health risk.
But please, if the toothpick contains decorative frills, whether made of paper or cellophane, don’t put such toothpicks in the oven. The decorative material, especially the cellophane, could melt and leech into your food.
Now, bear in mind that plastic toothpicks aren’t safe. The plastic will melt under high heat inside the oven, posing a huge health risk. You would even lose the food you’re cooking or reheating. So, putting plastic toothpicks in the oven is not a good decision.
Do You Have To Soak Wooden Skewers Before Baking?
When you conduct a simple search on this question, you’ll discover that the answers are quite conflicting. Most people claim it is important to soak wooden skewers for 30 minutes before using them.
Others claim it is best to soak wooden skewers overnight. Otherwise, they’ll catch fire before the baked item is ready.
Now, what is the right thing to do? Test kitchens have claimed that soaking wooden skewers before baking is unnecessary. Why? The sharp point on the skewer will burn away, anyway.
Here’s the best decision to take. If your wooden skewer is thin, consider soaking them before using them for baking. Why? Such skewers will get burned easily.
Again, if the wooden skewers split when sliding the ingredients, consider soaking them. The splitting shows the wooden skewer is too dry and can easily get burned.
However, if your wooden skewers are thick, their chance of burning is low. Thus, it is unnecessary to soak such skewers. But you can do it if you like anyway.
A Handy Tip: If you were worried that your wooden skewers aren’t sturdy enough and thus could get burnt easily, go for the metal skewers. Metal skewers are non-flammable and reusable.
But keep in mind that they can be super hot after cooking. So you just have to be extremely careful when picking them up.
Will Wooden Skewers Burn in the Oven?
The answer is yes. You can see that the material used in making the wood skewer is wood. And by the way, wood is flammable. If subjected to heat, it would burn over time.
Most cooks believe the best way to cook with wood skewers to prevent it from burning is to soak them in water. However, this might only be necessary when the wood skewer is thin. And if that’s the circumstance, soak your wood skewer for at least 30 minutes in warm water.
But if the wood skewer is thick and sturdy, soaking is unnecessary.
Why? Such wood skewers won’t catch fire easily.
What Can I Use If I Don’t Have Skewers?
Cooks keep a wide range of cooking tools on hand. But the truth is, you can’t keep an eye on every tool you have. You may make up your mind to cook some days only to learn that you no longer have skewers. Unfortunately, you need skewers for the dish you are planning to prepare.
Several skewer alternatives you can use exist. Let’s take a close look at them.
1. Sugarcane skewers
If you don’t have wooden skewers, sugarcane skewers are great alternatives. It can get the job done. Another thing that makes sugarcane skewers special is that they are durable and strong.
2. Rosemary stalks
Rosemary stalks are another great alternative to bamboo skewers. They are strong, durable, and safe. Rosemary stalks will also add some herbal flavor to your food. So, if you have a garden packed with the rosemary plant, visit it and get some stalks to use in place of wooden skewers.
Now, here’s how to use rosemary stalk. Firstly, harvest strong stalks from the plant. Then trim to the length you desire. A length of 20cm isn’t a bad idea, though.
Once you have trimmed to the desired length, remove the leaves. But let the leaves at the narrow tips remain. Now you can start threading your food on the stalk from the other side (side without leaves).
The rosemary stalk is not only sturdy enough to thread foods but strong enough to withstand high temperatures thrown at it.
3. Aluminum foil
Do you plan to cut your meats in diverse shapes? If yes, then you don’t necessarily need skewers. Aluminum foil can get the job done. Besides, aluminum foil is one of the popular materials around the kitchen, so you won’t struggle to find one to use.
4. Green sticks from a tree
If you can lay your hands on a green tree with some sturdy branches, you are looking at a great skewer alternative. Ensure the tree is safe to use and trim the sticks too.
5. Paper clip
You can use paper clips in place of wooden skewers. Just straighten the clip, and use. It’s as simple as that.
6. Bay leaf twigs
The bay leaf twig is another skewer alternative you can try. You can use it the same way you use the rosemary stalk. And by the way, the bay leaf can give your meat some herbal flavor.
7. Bamboo chopsticks
This skewer alternative is strong and will get the job done too.
8. Disposable chopsticks
If you’re seeking a skewer alternative, here’s another option you can try.
Conclusion: Are colored toothpicks safe to cook with?
Yes, you can cook with colored toothpicks. Colored toothpicks dyed with food-grade coloring are safe to use for cooking and safe when consumed.
The food-grade colors are dyes considered safe for consumption. But then, ensure you’re buying your colored toothpicks from a reputable company that follows safety guidelines.
So, even if the toothpick’s color leeches into your food, don’t panic, as there’s no health risk. And remember that you shouldn’t use toothpicks in the microwave. It is not safe practice in the kitchen.