Kitchen twine is not a commonly-used piece of equipment, but it’s a massive inconvenience when a recipe calls for it, and you realize that you have none in your house. If you try to forego twine when it is necessary, you’ll wind up with unevenly cooked chicken or stuffed meat that is falling apart.
Some cooks wonder if they can use sisal twine, a durable twine found in hardware stores. You may have it around the house if you use it for crafts or gardening.
You can use sisal twine in cooking as long as you are careful. Some alternatives might be better to work with.
What Is Sisal Twine?
Sisal twine is made from a type of agave plant that is native to Mexico. It is prized for its strength and durability.
Most commonly, sisal twine is used for agricultural purposes, such as binding off hay bales. It is used so often on farms because it does not deteriorate, even under harsh weather conditions. It is used in various manufacturing sectors, from the automotive to the paper-making industries.
In terms of handcrafts, some people use sisal to weave durable mats or even to make mezcal. People make crafts out of it, such as macrame.
Many people have sisal twine at home because it is versatile for use around the house or even outdoors. Many gardeners use it to tie plants to stakes, fashion supports for climbing plants, or hang herbs out to dry.
Twine in Cooking
Twine may seem like a tool that has its place in construction or crafting, not cooking. However, it has its uses in the kitchen as well.
Most cooks use twine when cooking meat. They use it to tie pieces of meat together, such as stuffed meat cuts or bacon weaves attached to roasts.
Twine is also useful when trussing a whole roast chicken. Trussing a chicken is when the wings and legs of the bird are tied to the body, creating a uniform shape that roasts more evenly.
Cooking twine needs to be durable so that the roast does not fall apart and the twine will not melt in the oven. It also needs to be neutral so that it does not alter the taste of the food.
Sisal Twine and Cooking
You can use sisal twine when trussing a chicken or for all your other cooking needs. It is made with all-natural fibers so it will hold your food in shape without melting in the oven or imparting its flavors.
However, before you use your twine, be sure to read the label carefully. Some packages of sisal twine contain artificial fibers that could melt at high heat or accidentally flavor your food.
There is also the possibility that sisal twine could shed small fibers into your food, which food-safe twine does not do.
Sisal twine can work for cooking. However, if you would rather use something else, or you don’t have any at home, there are alternatives that you can use.
Kitchen twine is sometimes called butcher’s twine, cooking twine, or kitchen string. It is made of cotton fiber, which is the safest material for cooking.
Kitchen twine is guaranteed to be safe for food consumption because it is designed solely for this purpose. Although it is often more expensive than other types of twine, you are better off using this for peace of mind.
You can find kitchen twine in most larger supermarkets or butcher shops. Sometimes, you can even ask your local butcher to give you some along with your order.
You can use regular cotton twine in place of kitchen twine. They are made out of the same materials, and cotton is food-safe.
You can usually find cotton twine at your local hardware store. Just be sure to check the label that it is 100% cotton, as even a small percentage of synthetic fibers can affect the outcome of your food.
Cotton twine is very similar to kitchen twine but is usually sold at a fraction of the cost. You can find it at your local hardware store.
If you prefer to use another natural fiber instead, you can use linen twine. However, linen twine tends to be harder to find than cotton.
Unwaxed Dental Floss
In a pinch, some people use unwaxed dental floss to replace cooking twine. The unwaxed version does not leave a strange finish or taste on meat.
However, the problem with using dental floss is that it is so thin that it often breaks when you are trying to use it. Also, it is so fine that it sometimes blends into the meat after cooking, and your dinner guests could wind up with an unpleasant surprise.
When you have no cooking twine at home, dental floss can help you hold your meat together. However, if at all possible, stick to proper twine.
Depending on the dish, you can skip twine altogether and use toothpicks to hold your food together.
Toothpicks can be used to hold together stuffed meat such as cordon bleu or braciole.
However, you cannot use toothpicks to truss a chicken like you would twine. Toothpicks are also more cumbersome to remove than twine, so you will need to warn your guests.
What to Avoid
When looking for twine that you use for cooking, pay attention to the materials. Pure cotton twine is best.
Avoid twine that has synthetic materials as they often melt. Melting twine could damage your food and render it inedible.
Can You Use Sisal Twine in Cooking?
In a pinch, sisal twine can help you hold together your dish. Just make sure that it is 100% made out of sisal and does not contain any synthetic fibers.
However, if you can use an alternative such as kitchen twine, you should do so. Kitchen twine is guaranteed to be food-safe and will not shed stray fibers into your food like sisal twine might.
When shopping for any twine to use in cooking, make sure that it is made only with natural fibers. Synthetic fibers could melt into your food or transfer their taste.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.