We need to find materials to replace all kinds of throwaway objects currently made of plastic. Examples include plastic eating utensils. Some estimates put the number of individual plastic utensils wasted at 40 billion per year in the United States alone. After just one single use, most of them are thrown out and end up in landfills and in our waterways.
A lot of folks don’t realize this but Plastic cutlery is one of those items that won’t get recycled even when you put it in the recycling. It’s too contaminated. It’s too small. It’s too lightweight. So those 40 billion plastic utensils per year are not only a complete waste, they also add to our growing stockpile of waste. Making edible spoons and using them at your next party or family gathering is not only a fun and unique thing to do, it also opens the opportunity for you to talk about other things we can do to reduce waste. For example, when you order take out, tell the restaurant to leave the plastic utensils off your order because you have washable utensils in your kitchen. Same goes for work. Bring you own knife/fork/spoon—how hard is that?
Following are the how-to details and lessons-learned of a project that evolved out of my curiosity. A few weeks ago, I came across a random YouTube of a man from India who had a factory of people who made edible spoons. (Who knew? Apparently there is enough of a demand for them to be mass produced, at least in India.)
Curious I searched further and found a company in the USA that distributes edible spoon makers. www.smartplanethome.com. These devices are very similar to the Belgium waffle makers in design. They are inexpensive at $12.99 (shipping is a bit steep at $7.) The total cost with tax is $22.17. It arrived well-packed with the unit, instructions, and a spoon cutter.
CARE OF THE UNIT
1. Never submerge as it would totally wreck the machine.
2. Prior to using, wash the dark gray surfaces of the inside with a soap cloth and wipe/rinse clean with a cloth dampened with water.
3. DO NOT USE vegetable oil or cooking spray. The nonstick plates don’t require it and will make your spoons greasy.
ABOUT THE DOUGH
Experiment if you like with ready made dough such as canned biscuits and even cookie dough. For my first adventure I used a can of Pillsbury Grands. I ate one of the spoons and it tasted like a butter cookie. I actually liked it. One can of 8 biscuits yielded 24 edible spoons.
HERE IS THE SPOON DOUGH RECIPE FROM THE MANUFACTURER’S INSTRUCTIONS
2 cups sifted flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
3 eggs separated
1 cup of milk
Add corn flour as needed to make them less soft.
(sorry, no details provided for mixing)
LESSONS LEARNED AND OPINIONS
1. You don’t need the rolling pin if you use biscuit or cookie dough. Just flatten the dough out with the heel of your hand. It should be about 1/4 inch think or a little less.
Note: if your spoon looks like the photo below, you need to roll the dough thinner. (But not to worry. After it cools you can trim the edges with kitchen scissors.
2. You will be able to cook four spoons at a time but forget what they say about “golden brown” as those are too soft. They should be darker. It takes about 7 minutes per set of four spoons. It’s OK to lift of the lid to check after they’ve been cooking for about 2.5 minutes. Try to get them as brown as you can without scorching or burning them.
3. How fast can you make them? Four spoons every 7 minutes.
4. Storage. Store the edible spoons in an airtight container. Like bread, they don’t need to be refrigerated.
Their shelf life is probably that of bread—about 10 days. After all, remember that these spoons are organic Ideally after use the spoons are consumed by the user. All used uneaten cutlery should be treated as waste and tossed. But the good news is that it will biodegrade in 5 days.