Soaking bamboo skewers; Good or bad?

Grilled and smoked foods are some of our favorite foods. But others use skewers that are bad to the environment. So, environmentalists/people in business came up with the idea of making bamboo skewers. This skewers last long and is safe from burning. All you need is the perfect time of soaking bamboo skewers into the water, and it will be good to go.

Nowadays, efforts about being green and actions that are connected to the preservation of the environment are continuing to rise. There are many services, especially products that are available on the market, just like bamboo skewers are beneficial to nature and the environment. From organic foods that are made without artificial chemicals, less usage of plastics as containers, supermarkets, and stores using eco-bags and paper-bags as an alternative to the conventional plastic ones, up to daily household instruments and utensils. One such rising trend is widely-known and popular bamboo products. Bamboo as its main component of producing utensils that we use daily. One such specific product is the bamboo skewer. 

With this, we will explore how this idea, the bamboo skewer, was first conceived and soaking bamboo skewers as perfect for everyday use. We would also discuss its different benefits, its pros, and cons, and try to compare and contrast it versus the traditional stainless skewer.

BAMBOO SKEWERS ARE PERFECT FOR GRILLING!!

One of the most popular and of course, one of the most favorite activities that most of us enjoy is BBQ and grilling! Picture this, one Sunday afternoon, you and your family are out on the yard, laughing and talking, just having a great time. With it, the smell of smoke and grilled meat and barbecue. Who does not love it, right? But let us not forget the most important utensil of BBQ, the griller and of course, skewers. It is not a “BBQ” if the meats are not skewered, making it a wonderful and delicious stick of meat.

THE IDEA OF BAMBOO SKEWERS…

Talking about skewers, we have different preferences for it. Some prefer stainless steel skewers, and some prefer the more natural alternative, skewers made out of bamboo.

With this, we will focus on why people prefer the eco-friendly alternative, the bamboo skewer.

Idea

The idea of using skewers as a utensil for eating started in the earliest times. Discovered in a 300, 000 – year- old site in Schöningen, Germany was a stick with the black tip. It was then later figured out that it would have been used to cook meat over a fire, which is, as we now know, BBQ. It is evidence of the prehistoric use of skewers, dating as early as the Lower Paleolithic. 

Since then, skewers have been made from different materials. But the more common ones were made out of stainless steel and one made out of bamboo. Since then, skewers have been made from different materials. Yet, the more common ones out of stainless steel and one made out of bamboo.


Now that we have the idea of how it was first discovered and how it came to what is today, let us now look into how it is produced and why the producers were able to come up with the idea of using bamboo as its specific primary material.

Production

In recent years, one of the hottest in the business is the use of bamboo in making and producing different items and crafts. Such is the bamboo skewer. And as we all know, skewers are essential accessories to every BBQ, party or not.

Why? Why use bamboo as its material? Simple. It is convenient, natural, biodegradable, and easy to dispose of, and of course, it is healthy. In short meaning, it is environmental.

Compared with other disposable food containers and food service products such as paper cups or the ones made out of Styrofoam, baking paper, and aluminum foils, bamboo skewers have much less traffic when it comes to disposing of it.


Now, let us look into how it is produced in a step-by-step process.
Material Type

Obviously, it is made out of bamboo.

Plants are common and found in places that are tropical, sub-tropical, or temperate zones. Bamboo plants can be found and scattered around the areas of South America, Southeast Asia, and even in some portions of Southeast United States. There are also the less common species that can grow indoors. So basically, bamboos are easy to acquire, and you can pretty much get your hands on a bamboo anywhere you may be.

To the website of Panda Bambu, a company that produces different kinds of wooden products, including wood or bamboo skewers, that most bamboo skewers factory does not process the raw material or the bamboo itself by themselves. They indicated that there is a different bamboo factory that specializes in only processing and producing the wood from the bamboo.

To the company, there are over a thousand kinds of bamboo in China alone. But there are three kinds or varieties that are considered optimal when used to make skewers: Dan, Mao, and Huang.

Kinds are considered optimal due to their specifications, such as its diameter and its strength. You would not want your meat to fall because of a frail wooden skewer.

Some people still call bamboo skewers as “wooden sticks”. Technically, they are right. Speaking about its physical aspect, surely, bamboo is a kind of wood. But on the environmental term, bamboo is different from the common “wooden” products. Why? That’s because the bamboo plant is sustainable because it can grow 20 cm to 30 cm in just 24 hours, and of course, environmentally friendly.



Processing of the Bamboo Skewer

They start the process by ordering bamboo filament from the material factory and will then be delivered to the factory that will finally process it into skewers. Once received, they will start cutting the filaments into shorter sticks or skewers to desired length requirement. They have to cut it into pieces because filaments are usually 1.5 to 2 meters long.

After they cut it and sawed it into shorter lengths, they put it through the dissection machine where it is split. Once dissection is done, they put it into a shaping machine, where it is shaped as cylinder-liked filament, which will now start to look like a meat skewer. After then it goes to a series of treatments like stewing and sterilizing it.

The purpose of stewing is for the filament to release the sugar. This will make the skewer have a longer shelf life. And of course, sterilized properly since it is used in food. We would not want to have stomach problems because we had eaten meat that is skewered into a decomposing stick. After that, it will go through a laser counting device that will control its quantity before it is finally packed and delivered to stores and supermarkets to be sold.

Now that we have to go through the process and production of skewers, specifically the one made out of bamboo, we finally have an idea of how efficient it is when using bamboo as the primary material. We can conclude that it is efficient and requires less energy, both machinery and humanly, to make. It is one of the benefits of using bamboo as skewers, compared to making skewers that are made out of stainless steel.

Pros and Cons of both the bamboo skewers and stainless steel skewers

Now we will try to compare and contrast the pros and cons of both the bamboo skewers and skewers made with stainless steel. We would try to figure out which one is the best option and the best choice on what to use on your next planned barbecue and grill.

 In a joint scientific study conducted by Linum Europe and Ghent University in the Department of Applied Biosciences in the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering.

In their study, they examined the multiplication of microorganisms on raw meat that’s skewered different sticks, one steel. The other bamboo, when stored and/or displayed in the refrigerator with as well as on cooked meat leftovers. If it were to be stored on the refrigerator for a short while afterwards. The study yielded results that the raw meat that’s skewered on the bamboo stick that on the first day. The microorganisms had increased exponentially, up to the factor of 10 compared to the meat skewered on stainless steel. With the cooked meat, it yielded similar results. Clearly, the multiplication and spread of bacteria and microorganisms were slower on the meat skewered on stainless steel compared to that of the meat on bamboo skewers.


In the same study, they also analyzed it chemically to look for contaminants that might inhibit the meat. In the food industry, it is vital and crucial to detect if there any contaminants on the food. One of the most common examples is carcinogenic. Carcinogenic is a cancer-causing substance that should be, at all costs, avoided. These carcinogenic can form when food is barbecued or when food is heated with open fire. With this knowledge, it is found out that the test involving bamboo skewers that there is the formation of the carcinogenic substance.

THINGS TO CONSIDER

Now that we have looked on to the comparison of stainless steel skewers and bamboo skewers, we have learned that even though it is environmentally healthy and friendly to opt for bamboo skewers, it also has its disadvantages. There are risks and harms that we should consider when preparing a barbecue using bamboo skewers. Also, one disadvantage is that bamboo skewers are usually disposed of after using compared to stainless steel skewers where you can just wash it properly and sterilize it to be used again for the next barbecue outing.

Putting aside the disadvantages of bamboo skewers, let us say that you considered opting for bamboo skewers, let us tackle one more issue.

Won’t the “wooden” bamboo skewer burnt to a crisp when used for a barbecue? Isn’t wood a natural flammable material, especially when exposed to fire? Well, that is why most chefs and most preparations involve the soaking of the bamboo sticks before using. But the question is, is it necessary?

According to a website that talks about barbecue and preparations, the real answer is that it depends. It mostly depends on what kind of bamboo used. It also depends on its sturdiness and thickness. On a thread on some forum regarding this topic, some said that their skewers did burn to a crisp when they skipped the “soaking” of the skewer. But some did also confirm that they had never heard or experienced such a thing.

Here’s the solution. When it comes to preparing your food, it is better to be safe than sorry. This means that soaking bamboo skewers before or not, it is recommended to buy and use bamboo skewers that are high quality. High-quality bamboo skewers are usually thicker and have higher heat tolerance. Thus, lowering the possibility of having a burnt stick on your barbecue to minimal. Additional tips, it is also highly recommended to check on the sticks or skewers often while cooking. Try to look for charred parts, especially on the tips of the skewers. If you can find some charring, you can make adjustments like lowering the heat or adjusting and moving them to the low-heat area of the grill where it can still cook.

BOTTOMLINE

It is obvious that high-quality stainless steel skewers are a big factor. Thus, it reflects on the food safety of meat skewers. When the food or meat is stored prior and after the barbecue! The multiplication of bacteria and microorganisms on the stainless skewer is significantly lower than that of the skewer made out of bamboo. And most importantly, the risk of consuming carcinogenic substances when using a stainless steel skewer is zero. Even when used for cooking types of meat that require a longer time to cook.

All in all, it boils down to our own choices, whether we choose one over another. It is completely on our control to choose what we think is best. We had already tackled and shared the different advantages and disadvantages of both skewers. Environmentally, it is best to opt for the bamboo skewers since its disadvantages are tolerable. It can make up for its overall impact on our environment and its preservation. But no matter what skewer you choose, let us always put in mind the in everything we do. We should try to prioritize the safety and well-being of our surroundings, ultimately, the environment. We would not have meat to cook in the first place if we lose nature.