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Kitchen twine, also known as butcher's twine, is a thick cotton string often used for trussing or tying meat and other ingredients, such as stuffing, together. The meat may be wrapped with cheese to form a roll, for instance, or it may be sliced open and stuffed with a prepared filling. In order to keep the entire preparation together during the cooking process, a cook will often use lengths of twine to bind it. After the meat dish has finished roasting or broiling, the string is usually cut off with a knife or kitchen shears before carving and serving.
The string used for kitchen twine is almost always made from linen or cotton, never plastic or other synthetic material such as polyester or nylon. It must be a non-toxic food grade material, since it will be in such close contact with raw foods. Synthetic yarns and twines could either melt under the heat or leech dangerous chemicals into the food. A thick natural cotton twine is usually threaded onto a large spool and sold in cooking supply stores.
There are several different ways that twine is used to truss meats. One of the easiest methods involves cutting several lengths of string off the spool and looping each one around the meat, approximately 1 inch (2.54 cm) apart. The individual loops can be tightened down with a simple half-loop at the top, much like tying a shoelace, then locked off with a second loop or square knot. The excess twine can then be trimmed off with a knife or kitchen shears and the trussed meat dish can then be put into the oven.
Another way to use kitchen twine is called a butcher's knot, and this is usually the preferred method of professional chefs. The twine is pulled off the spool and is threaded over one end of the meat. The cook then forms a loop at the top by overlapping the first section of twine and then starting a second loop a short distance away. The first loop can be cinched tightly around the meat and the process continues until the entire meat dish has been trussed. This method does require a learning curve, but the meat dish should hold together well during the cooking process.
Kitchen twine can also be used for trussing meat with a method that is a bit more complicated. The cook can use special meat-trussing needles to pin both sides of a split piece back together. These needles have open loops on one end, and twine can be threaded through these loops much like laces on a pair of shoes. Once all of the needles have been threaded, the tightened string should keep the trussing needles firmly in place while the dish cooks.