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There are several purposes and many dishes for which you may need to utilize twine as a tool in cooking. It is one of the reasons why you should read your recipe all the way through before beginning — to make sure that you have purchased not only all of the ingredients but also all of the equipment that you need as well.
Let’s explore what exactly jute twine is, especially in comparison to other types of twine. Then we can look at the potential pitfalls and problems of using jute twine for cooking (and there are a few big ones).
What Is Jute Twine?
Before we dive into our discussion of using jute twine for cooking, let’s first get an understanding of what it is. As you may have expected, jute twine is a type of twine, which is a strong thread or light cord typically made by twisting strands together.
The different types of twine are made from different materials, and jute twine is made from vegetable fibers. Specifically, it is made from cellulose and lignin, collected from the phloem or “skin” of various plants.
Jute twine looks very similar to any other type of twine that you might be envisioning. It is typically auburn, tan, or light brown in color. It is relatively soft, 100% biodegradable, and usually made from all-natural materials.
For What Is Jute Twine Normally Used?
Jute twine is very popular for arts and crafts, and you will find it for sale in craft stores and the craft section of many big box stores. Crafters and artists use it in many, many projects, though typically its uses in them are decorative rather than functional.
Jute twine is also popular for home décor and wall treatments. People trying to achieve a farmhouse, industrial, or nautical look in their homes frequently use jute twine as an accessory.
It is also used in packaging (especially by organic and natural companies) and wrapping, and sometimes it even shows up in fashion.
Why Might You Need Twine in Cooking in the First Place?
Before we get into whether or not jute twine is good for cooking, let’s look at some of the reasons why twine is used in cooking in the first place.
Obviously, the most common (and almost the only) use of twine in cooking is to tie things together. This can be any number of things, including:
- Spices: Many recipes will call for you to secure a bundle of spices with twine. That way, the spices can infuse flavor but also be easily removed.
- Meat: Twine is used for meat, including in beef dishes such as braciola, where the meat is stuffed and then rolled.
- Poultry: Twine is very often the tool used to tie the legs and wings of whole birds for roasting, a process called trussing.
- Any time that you need to impermanently attach things together.
Can Jute Twine Be Used in Cooking?
Now for the big question — what about jute twine? Can it be used in cooking?
Typically, no. Unfortunately, jute twine is not a good cooking tool.
The reason why jute twine is not good in cooking has to do with its manufacturing process and materials. Essentially, jute twine is not designed to endure exposure to heat and moisture, which makes it a very poor option for cooking.
Why Won’t Jute Twine Work?
As stated above, jute twine can’t endure a lot of heat or moisture. It typically tends to burn and disintegrate under either of those conditions.
Basically, the fibers of jute twine aren’t sealed together; they’re merely woven, so when they’re exposed to high pressure conditions, they fall apart. It gives the twine a delicate and rustic look at the same time, which is wonderful for decorating.
But if you use jute twine in your cooking, you can expect to find all of their little fibers in your food. Yuck!
Think about burlap, since it is made from the same material as jute twine. When you handle a burlap sack, little fibers flake away; the same will happen if you cook with jute twine.
What is more, if it is exposed to heat or moisture for too long, it will disintegrate to such a degree that it no longer holds, defeating the purpose of using twine in the first place.
How Can You Use Jute Twine in the Kitchen?
Maybe you purchased some jute twine for a craft project and now you have no use for it. Don’t throw it away! There are still some creative or alternative ways to use it, including culinary-related purposes.
Jute twine is often used to decorate, so make that purpose work for you. Use it to tie napkins for an elegant yet rustic table setting. You can also make curtain ties or other similar items using jute twine.
One sneaky way around using jute twine for actual cooking would be if you’re making something that is going to be run through a fine-mesh strainer.
The strainer would also catch the jute twine fibers, so you’d be okay under those circumstances; keep in mind, though, that you’ll have to discard everything but the liquid that comes through the strainer, and this may not be completely foolproof.
Whatever you do, be aware that any time that the jute twine encounters friction, it will shed some of its fibers, so don’t use it directly to serve food.
If Not Jute Twine, Then What?
If jute twine is not usable for cooking, then what kind of twine is? That is actually an easy question to answer: kitchen twine, butcher’s twine, or cooking twine.
All of these types of twine are very similar, and the names are sometimes used interchangeably.
Companies make twine that is specifically designed to be used for cooking. Unlike jute twine, cooking or kitchen twine is designed to withstand the chemical processes involved in cooking, including saturation with all kinds of liquids, high temperatures (as well as sudden changes in temperature), and lots of friction.
Usually, this kind of twine is made from cotton, linen, or both. This means that it is designed to withstand the kind of wear and tear in the kitchen (although it is usually not reusable again after the fact).
Often, these types of twine are lighter in color, even white or striped, and are sold in kitchen supply stores. Kitchen twine is often also sealed, increasing its durability even more.
How Can You Tell What Kind of Twine You Have?
It may very well be that you have had your twine lying around your house for some time, and you have no idea what kind it is. Before you take a chance with using it in cooking, there are some simple ways to tell if it can take the heat.
One of the best ways to tell whether you have jute twine or something else is just to feel it. When you pick it up and handle it, can you see the fibers flaking away? If so, it’s probably jute twine.
Another method to tell the type of twine is to expose it to a little water. If you’re working with kitchen or butcher twine, you should be able to hold it under running water and it should generally keep its shape, but jute twine will start to disintegrate.
Finally, there are also other types of twine besides jute twine and kitchen, cooking or butcher’s twine. The other types of twine to avoid using in the kitchen include twine made from or containing polypropylene (and synthetic twines in general) and hemp twine.
What to Do If You Only Have Jute Twine Available
Unless you’re going to end up straining your dish, or unless it does not involve heat or moisture (and we’re not sure what kind of cooking venture wouldn’t), it is clearly not a good idea to use jute twine.
Try one of these other substitutes or tricks to work around the problem:
- Skewer: This is an especially good tool for trussing.
- Green onion, rosemary twig, or another herb: Gently use one of these items to attach; just be careful when tying a knot.
- Tea infuser: This will work for spices more than any other use. If you have one that is large enough, you can put your items inside to keep them together.
- Foil: it’s durable, it’s waterproof, it’s heat resistant, and, best of all, you almost certainly have it on hand. You can mold it to use in many creative ways.
- Dental floss: As long as it is unflavored and unwaxed (which it should indicate right on the case), you can use it.
There are also reusable options available. Since they are typically made from durable silicone, you can buy roasting bands or reusable ties. These items are dishwasher-safe and are great to have on hand as a kitchen tool.
Don’t use jute twine for cooking or other culinary purposes. Use kitchen, cooking, or butcher’s twine instead.