Anyone who has tried to make fun, bite-sized hors d’oeuvres or stuff a chicken breast with cheesy goodness prior to baking it has likely needed the assistance of that old standby known as the toothpick.
This little culinary helper is usually just intended for cleaning teeth, but the fact is that a lot of folks buy these to use as a convenient and affordable kitchen tool.
From holding some bacon-wrapped jalapeños together to testing whether or not your birthday cake has been cooked all the way through, toothpicks are as likely to be found next to your bakeware as they are to be stored near the floss.
When baking, some people may be concerned about the safety of placing toothpicks in the oven. The good news is that that trusty toothpick is perfectly safe to use in that hot oven because the wood it is made of will absorb the water from the food that surrounds it, effectively preventing the toothpick from getting burnt.
If you would like some tips on how to do so correctly, then read on to learn more about using toothpicks in the oven.
Is it Safe to Put Toothpicks in the Oven?
Thankfully, a simple wooden toothpick is perfectly safe to use when baking. They can easily withstand the high heat needed to cook food thoroughly without creating any sort of fire hazard.
This is due to the toothpick’s ability to absorb moisture from the foods with which it is cooked.
For drier foods or those that require a cook time of over 15 minutes, you may find that there is a slight bit of char on the toothpick upon completion. Though this causes no harm, it may not be the best look when it comes to presentation.
If you are only using the toothpicks to hold food together in the oven, then this is not likely to be a problem since the toothpicks will just come right out prior to serving.
However, if you intend to go from the oven to a serving tray so that guests can use the toothpicks to serve themselves, then that burnt look can be unsightly.
Thankfully, there is a rather easy fix. To avoid burnt toothpicks, simply soak them in some cold water for about 15 to 20 minutes prior to using them for baking.
The absorbed water will prevent the toothpicks from turning dark while in the oven and ensure a perfect presentation of your dish!
Alternatively, you can also use metal toothpicks. Since these are more commonly used in baking than for dental hygiene, they can be found in the baking aisle of most supermarkets.
Unlike the wooden toothpick, which will end up in the garbage bin, metal ones can be used and reused resulting in less waste and more money left in your wallet.
What Type of Toothpick Is Best for Baking in the Oven?
When trying to determine whether or not to use a wooden or metal toothpick, there are a few things to take into consideration.
Wooden toothpicks work best when you will be leaving them in when serving.
Using a metal toothpick for this purpose means that you will be serving hot metal along with finger foods or some other item that is about to be eaten.
Metal toothpicks are best used for holding foods together during the baking process and removing them prior to serving.
Though both types of toothpicks are good options when it comes to your baking needs, you will want to avoid the decorative types that feature colorful cellophane.
Save these for cold appetizers that will not be going in the oven or to hold a few olives in your martini.
What Types of Foods Can You Bake with Toothpicks?
Though many hors d’oeuvres are both baked and served with a wooden toothpick, there are also plenty of main courses that will turn out perfectly when getting an assist from the toothpick.
Toothpicks work great for holding together butterflied meats, securing a bacon wrap around your favorite vegetable, or even checking to make sure those cupcakes have a fluffy center.
Longer metal picks, on the other hand, can be used to skewer meats or bite-sized chunks of seasoned veggies.
Will Toothpicks in the Oven Affect Your Food’s Flavor?
Though flavored toothpicks exist and are commonly used to freshen your breath, a plain wooden or metal toothpick is always going to be a solid choice.
Both of these types of toothpicks will leave no flavor behind while ensuring that your food holds shape throughout the entire baking process.
Additionally, most toothpicks are entirely untreated, meaning that they do not have any harmful chemicals in them.
But make sure to buy your toothpicks from trusted and well-known brands only, as some smaller manufacturers use hydrogen peroxide or Rongalite in their toothpicks.
Both of these chemical compounds can be hazardous to your health if ingested.