The care and feeding of wood ware

Still life with wooden bowlsWhen you have utilitarian wood ware–cutting boards,  wooden spoons, fruit or salad bowls–keep in mind that it needs regular care. It’s not difficult or complicated, but there are a few things to remember.

Cleaning: Hand wash wooden utensils with warm water and regular dish soap, rinse well, and dry with a towel. It’s always good to let wood items air dry before putting them away. Never wash them in a dishwasher or let them soak in water.

Refreshing the finish: Regardless of the type of finish originally used on your wooden bowls, spoons and cutting boards, as you use them, they will start to look dull and dried out. Rubbing in a bit of walnut oil or mineral oil with a clean, lint free cloth will help bring the finish back to life again. If the wood seems really “thirsty,” you might need to repeat this a few times. If you have some available, you can also rub on a bit of beeswax, and then buff it with a soft cloth. Go light on the wax, because a little will go a long way.

IMPORTANT: Do NOT use ordinary vegetable oil or olive oil on your wood kitchen ware. These oils will go rancid, and if you’ve ever smelled rancid oil, you know you don’t want your salad bowl smelling like that!

Additional notes: Wooden items WILL be stained by things like berries or barbeque sauce. Some people view those stains as added character and patina. If you don’t care for that idea, then use a bit of common sense regarding what you put in your bowls, on your cutting boards, or stir with your spoons. If it will stain clothing, it will stain wood.

Also keep in mind that wood moves. It expands and shrinks with changes in the humidity in your house, and with changes in temperature. Avoid rapid temperature and moisture changes, which can cause the wood to crack.