There are many times when you are cooking when you may find that the recipe calls for you to use twine. It may be referred to as butcher twine but it is generally called cooking twine. There are a number of uses for cooking twine but what do you do if you don’t have this item on hand?
Cooking twine is a durable oven-safe string that is made of 100% cotton. It is mostly used to even out the shape of a piece of beef, pork, or chicken you are going to roast in the oven so it can cook evenly.
Sometimes you might have your choice of protein-filled with cheese and vegetables which creates a savory stuffing or you might simply be cooking a prime rib to medium-rare perfection.
Cooking twine is used when baking a full chicken or turkey, stuffed or unstuffed. This process is called trussing and it lets the poultry cook evenly while protecting the legs and tips of the wings from burning.
Other recipes that call for the use of cooking twine include bacon-wrapped meatloaf, stuffed flank steak, roast leg of lamb, and Porchetta, an Italian stuffed pork roast.
Other Uses for Cooking Twine
Besides helping an assortment of roasts reach their toasty brown exterior while the inside stays intact, cooking twine is used for creating soups, stews, and even homemade sausages and cured meats.
When buying your spool of cooking twine make sure that it is made of only natural fibers, cotton or linen are best. Make sure it doesn’t have a scent or color as either could transfer to what you are cooking.
Additional uses for cooking twine include:
- Bouquet Garni – translated this means a garnished bouquet. A traditional bouquet garni is thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. These herbs, fresh or dried, are gathered together on a piece of cheesecloth and tied with cooking twine. This makes it easy to let the herbs flavor your soups, stews, or homemade broth then remove the bundle before serving.
- In addition to the items listed above, you can add other herbs such as rosemary, basil, tarragon, chervil, and peppercorns.
- If you are making your own chicken stock, you can use your cooking twine to tie up a bundle of cheesecloths filled with chicken bones.
- Cooking twine is great if you are making your own sausage at home. You can tie off the casings as well as use it to hang your homemade meats to cure them.
- Some seasoned cooks tie a piece of cooking twine around the outside rim of their ramekins when making souffles. This is meant to keep the parchment paper intact so the souffle can reach its maximum height.
What Can You Use if You Don’t Have Cooking Twine?
If you have come across a recipe that called for you to tie something up with cooking twine you will probably have that spool around for a while and are able to use it for many more recipes.
If you don’t have this twine available, don’t worry and think you have to ditch the recipe you are working on. Here are some substitutions you can use in place of cooking twine.
Aluminum Foil – If you need cooking twine to tie up a chicken or any other type of poultry, you can easily use aluminum foil to cover the wing tips so they don’t burn. You can even just tuck the end of the wings into or behind the poultry itself.
Silicone Cooking Bands – There is a product available that you may want to keep on hand in case you run out of your cooking twine – silicone cooking bands. These versatile bands come in an assortment of colors and are oven-safe up to 600 degrees.
They will last a long time, can be joined together to customize the length you need, and just need to be cleaned well after each use so they don’t carry any food particles that could turn into potential bacteria.
You can find silicone cooking bands online.
Dental Floss – This is a sturdy alternative to cooking twine that you probably already have at home. Dental floss will work but make sure it is unwaxed as it will be exposed to high heat and you don’t want it to melt.
Also only use it if it is not flavored or colored in any way.
Toothpicks – If you need something to close up the opening of a stuffed item you might be able to thread some toothpicks along the seams to keep the filling from seeping out.
Skewers – Skewers can be used in the same way as toothpicks only they can cover more ground. These would be perfect if you were making braciole, an Italian dish made of stuffed flank steaks.
Green Onions – Somewhere, a creative chef was out of cooking twine, looked around the kitchen, eyed a bunch of green onions, and put them to the test. They were a natural substance, had some good length to them, and were flexible enough to hold a knot.
5 Places Where Can You Find Quality Cooking Twine
- Grocery stores – Check the cooking section of any grocery store and you should be able to find it. It could be labeled Butchers twine, just make sure it is 100% cotton or linen.
- Department stores – The same goes for stores like Kohl’s or Target – check their cooking department and you should be able to pick up a small spool.
- Kitchen stores – Stores that are especially devoted to everything to do with cooking, like Williams Sonoma, will definitely carry the twine and probably the silicone cooking bands as well.
- Amazon – Amazon carries a full line of twine items with many for cooking. Some may be listed that are for crafts, but there is a package of pre-cut ties you may want to try to save time when cooking.
- Hardware or craft stores – You may find some spools of twine at either type of store, just make sure that it is the type used for cooking and either made of cotton or linen. Also make sure it is oven-proof.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard.