Stop Spillovers

When the pasta water is about to boil over, don’t just stand by helplessly watching. Lay a wooden spoon across the top of the open pot, allowing yourself the time necessary to lower the flame, reduce the temperature and avoid disaster. Since exposure to steam can warp wood, choose a spoon that’s expendable.

I learned this valuable tip recently while watching a Today Show series called “Kitchen Hacks.” I don’t know the scientific reason that it works, but just a few days later it prevented an awful mess from occurring in my kitchen.

The big pot of beets that I was boiling suddenly threatened to overflow, but lowering the flame and laying a wooden spoon across the pot immediately stalled the eruption. I can’t wait to try this trick with long-cooking oatmeal, which seems to boil over no matter how vigilantly I monitor the heat.


  • 1
    March 16, 2016 - 10:27 am | Permalink

    Never knew that! What, exactly, does the spoon doe hen you place in on the boiling pot? Thanks for the tip!
    As for oatmeal – I cook mine in the microwave at half power (on mine it’s “5”) for five minutes. Comes out perfect, without boiling over.

    • 2
      March 16, 2016 - 11:10 am | Permalink

      Two reasons, Stef. Since it can’t absorb water, the dry wooden spoon destabilizes the bubbles, breaking them and causing the water to retreat. Also, the lower temperature of the spoon turns some of the steam back into liquid. At least that’s what I’ve read. I don’t entirely understand the scientific reaction, but the trick seems to work. Thanks for suggesting using the microwave to make oatmeal. I’ll try it, although I do sort of like the calming effect of standing and stirring the pot on the stove.

  • 3
    March 8, 2016 - 10:00 am | Permalink

    Looking forward to learning why the spoon has to be wood, rather than metal or plastic…I don’t want to destroy my one, beautiful, notched wooden spoon that can rest on the side of a pot.

    • 4
      March 10, 2016 - 11:58 am | Permalink

      I don’t know if the spoon must be wooden for the trick to work. But I’d say that a plastic spoon would melt and a metal one would get very hot and could burn you. Thanks for reading…and for commenting! THH

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