String for blog
Most kitchen tools are fine in a drawer.  I don't get a charge out of seeing a mandoline or sauce whip  on the counter top.  Even cool looking tools such as the fluted pastry wheel have to stay in drawers where they're out of the way.  But a bolt of kitchen string is something that I love to have out–it's always a gratifying site.  Soft cotton, the bold shape, the intriguing pattern of the wound string.

And it's a valuable tool, for trussing birds and tying meat, which helps the meat to cook more uniformly, maintain the shape while it’s cooking, and it results in a better looking finished product.  I also use it for tying up bundles of herbs and aromats that i want to remove from the braising liquid or stock they're meant to flavor.  I use it to hang meat and sausages to dry.  And, as Michel Richard notes, you can use it as a belt!

Useful and beautiful.

There's a video here (and a lively story by one of my favorite bylines) on using string (I'm amazed and appalled by some of the how-to-truss-a-bird videos on the intenet–I should do one!),  and here's what you should buy if you're interested (avoid the little balls the fancy cookware stores tend to sell–not only homely but it never seems to be the right material).

A bolt will last most home cooks a couple of years or more.  I love my string.


13 Wonderful responses to “Elements: String (aka Butcher’s Twine)”

  • E L

    this is my favorite type of post that you do, michael, celebrating the mundane elements of cooking.

    i will say, however, that i’ve recently become very enamored of these little silicone rubber bands (link below) that work well for smaller applications, like trussing a chicken or tying a small roast or a steak.

    tying large roasts, roulades, etc, is still a worthwhile skill to have. but these little rubber bands are very handy. i also use’em for doing quick bouquet garni-type bunches.

  • Kate in the NW

    I have a theory about string…
    (sorry – my dad’s a physicist, I couldn’t resist the pun…)

    Seriously – I agree: there are few things more useful than good ‘ol string. Very creative stuff.
    Case in point: Last summer I saved up the woody bits (stems etc) from the fresh herbs I’d used all week (thyme, rosemary, oregano, mint) and then on the weekend soaked them overnight, then laid them lengthwise along a nice huge salmon filet (lightly seasoned first w/salt & pepper) and wound some wet twine around the whole thing to hold the herb stems on – drizzle with olive oil and grill – it was such a lovely presentation, charred string and all. Made us feel like we were sitting at a cafe somewhere overlooking the Mediterranean. The fish was fabulous, and I found a use for all those fragrant leftovers from the herbs! All made possible by STRING!

    Hey – come to think of it, I could have soaked the twine in something flavorful too – white wine maybe? Ideas for the coming season…

  • Cameron S.

    I use some of the silicon strings as well – they work well, but string is also an essential of my kitchen.

    I don’t leave it on the counter though, not enough room 🙂

  • luis

    I lost my string… just this morning I was wondering what had I done with it?. I know it will turn up sooner or later but by thanksgiving would be nice. I am beginnig to wish I had a small restaurant or a huge fam… I can only imagine what it’s like to need twine every week of the year. The dishes…mamma mia! First we build it in our minds. Then we swim in that general direction.

  • Mark Bitterman

    I love string, and it is one of the unspoken sadnesses in my life that since having kids (who seem to eat string), there is rarely any to be found in our house. This article has inspired me to develop some string-retention strategies: like making 40 or 50 little spools of string and stashing them in different drawers and secret hiding places (where my kids will look first). Maybe I’ll also make some highly decorative spools of string for display prominently around the house, such as in centerpieces, mantlepieces, objets d’art, etc.

  • Aimee S.

    Funny….I can never find Kitchen String in a store. I still haven’t purchased any yet on line (where I KNOW I can find some). I’ve been using the string I begged for from my butcher. My husband tried to get me some once…it was like wood string. I told him I would gladly truss HIS food with that junk but not mine. Thanks for the link Michael. Time to break down and buy some string!!!!

  • Pierino

    Kitchen twine is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment I use. Years ago I was taught how to stuff a roast and tie it up like a fetish model. My roast chickens are pretty minimalist in the bondage department.

    If I were to poll all of the chefs I know I’m pretty sure that they would say that their favorite thing to prepare at home is a roast chicken.

  • Tim

    This article is a little too spartan for my enjoyment but I always appreciate your bare basics perspective on all that is culinary. Cheers

  • Paul Kobulnicky

    A couple’a thoughts. The first is that you can always tell a cook’s kitchen. It has stuff like string visible, not just expensive equipment that is all sparklingly clean. The second is the question of what sits out. It makes me remember a recent trip to DC and the exhibit at the Smithsonian of Julia’s kitchen. The best thing was to see how she arranged it so that lots of immediate need stuff “sat out”.

  • cwolfe

    Let’s vote: When trussing a bird, do you tuck the wings behind the neck, or anchor them to the sides of breast?

  • Darcie

    I wish I could have my string out full time, too, but two things stand in my way: 1) not enough counter space and 2) six cats. String + cats = no string for cooking.

  • Amanda Crowe

    For tying, trussing, lacing, or binding, 100% cotton butcher’s string is the best to use. Kitchen twine, is one of the most useful things you can have in your kitchen. Think about it! With just a simple length of twine, you can tie roasts, wrap a bouquet garni or sachet… 🙂