Treen is a general category word used to refer to everyday wooden tools and utensils. Most of it is bought inexpensively and used without too much thought, though some older items can attract collectors’ interests at antique stores and flea markets.
What is treen?
In the kitchen, treen items might be moulds, presses for making oatcakes, wooden platters, wooden spoons, bowls, chopping boards, string holders. Outside the kitchen, the term would include items such as wooden shoe horns, wooden candlesticks and wooden pounce pots (to held the pounce you shook on a piece of paper to soak up excess ink.)
Some people also class as treen big items such as large dough trenchers craved from a log, but others disagree, saying that “treen” has to be small items only. And it definitely doesn’t include furniture: a wooden kitchen clock or wooden kitchen chair wouldn’t have been called treen.
The most common treen items still in use in today’s kitchens are wooden spoons, wooden spatulas, cutting boards, and wooden lemon reamers.
Designed for everyday use
Treen was always purely functional ware with almost never any decoration on it, except for moulds to impart decoration to food items (such as a butter mould.) They were usually carved or made from a single piece of wood, not joined. Hardwood was the most valued wood for making them out of.
Not many “antique” treen items survive because they weren’t meant to be “last for ever” things. They wore out or broke, and were tossed and replaced.
Treen is an obsolete English word meaning “from or of a tree.”