Do You Actually *Need* to Soak Wooden Skewers Before Cooking with Them?
It's summer, and summer means grilling, and grilling means skewers. Obviously. But, as we all know from science and stuff, wood tends to burn when placed over an open flame. So what about the wooden skewers that recipes often call for? Won't those burn? I mean, it's usually recommended that you soak wooden skewers in water for up to thirty minutes before using them to minimize any fire hazard risks. The wooden skewer absorbs the water and thus, becomes flame resistant. In theory.
But wait, since the majority of the skewer's surface area is wrapped in food... would this little wooden stick legitimately burst into flames if you skipped the pre-dinner soak? Is that completely necessary?
All very valid questions. Let's look at some answers.
OK, you're gonna hate this, but the real answer is, it depends. It mostly depends on what's on your skewers and the sturdiness of the skewers themselves. Seriously, just look at this thread where this question was posed via Epicurious. Some said that their wooden skewers did in fact burn to a crisp when they tried to bypass the soaking, and others said that they'd never heard of such a thing. Obviously, when it comes to your food, it's better to be safe than sorry. That means that regardless of whether or not you decide to soak, if you're going with wood, we recommend buying high-quality bamboo skewers as these are thicker and have a higher heat tolerance. Be sure to check them often as they cook, looking closely at the skewers' tips when you do. Do the charred ends look really charred? If so, you can make adjustments like lowering the heat slightly or moving them to a lower-heat area on the grill.
Now, if this is all too much uncertainty for you (understandable), here is the sure-fire solution: invest in some metal skewers. They will never catch on fire and you can use them for the rest of your live-long kebab-ing days. Check these skewers from Sur La Table, they're durable, easy to turn, and inexpensive.
Of course, this entire topic arises because of our insane love of skewered food, which is easy to eat, easy to serve, and easy to cook. The important thing is just to make sure you do so safely.
If you're looking for more great skewer recipes, definitely check out these picks below: