November 13, 2013

The Case and Care for Wood Spoons and Wood Cutting Boards

Your grandmother and great-grand used them. Your mama may have used them. And TV chefs, culinary instructors and cooks from sea to shining sea use them. Wooden spoons and wood cutting boards. I sold gobs of them so quickly at the boutique show this past weekend because there's an undeniable draw that makes people want wood in their kitchens, but so many of you said you didn't know how to care for it.  So here's everything you need to know about how to care for your kitchen wood! 

{The Case for Wood Spoons and Boards}
1. Wood is sturdy and strong unlike many plastic utensils. You can dig a wood spoon down into the biggest bowl of salted chocolate chip cookie dough to stir in the chips and move that thick dough around without trouble. 
2. Wood is sturdy, but it's also soft enough to use with your good cookware or your mixing bowls. We've all seen those gray scratch marks in the bottom of our favorite mixing bowls from using metal spoons. And no one wants to scratch the nonstick off of their pans or scrape up the pretty insides of their most valuable Dutch oven!
3. Wood is temperature-resistant which means it doesn't suck heat or produce any unwanted heat when you're stirring candy, fudge, or anything else that is temperature-sensitive.
4. Wood has a high heat tolerance! You can leave a wood spoon in a pot of soup or resting on the side of your skillet, and not only will it not melt like plastic utensils do but the handle will not get hot like metal utensils do.
5. It's charming. There's something about cooking with wood that is cozy and warm. There's an unexplainable sense of nostalgia that comes with using wood spoons. Try it. It's magical.
6. Wood cutting boards are easier on your knives than plastic cutting boards. 
7. Although new cutting boards without knife-scratches can be easily disinfected, studies have shown that more bacteria is recovered from a plastic cutting board than a wood board as soon as the plastic cutting board begins to show scars.  Plus those little deep cuts and shreds that you see on your plastic cutting boards...well those little pieces of shredded plastic end up in your food. Most good wood boards are self-healing and will not acquire the deep knife-scars.

NOTE: Raw meat is everyone's greatest fear when it comes to wood cutting boards. I suggest using a buffering paper like a heavy butcher paper between the meat and the board. Clean the cutting board according to the care instructions below as soon as it comes into contact with raw meat.

{Care for Wood Spoons and Boards}
Wood cutting boards and wooden spoons are the hardest working items in my kitchen besides my knife. And with just a little regular maintenance, your wood items will perform beautifully and last for years!

Regular Cleaning: Wash wood spoons/boards with hot water and dish soap using a gentle brush or kitchen rag.  Washing them as soon as you're finished with them is best. Do not put wood in the dishwasher or soak them in water. Simply clean off the surface with hot water and soap. Dry off the surface water with a kitchen towel and allow them to dry.
Removing Odors: To remove odors from your wood, spritz the wood with vinegar. The vinegar smell will evaporate. So don't worry!

Seasonal Maintenance: When the wood feels dry, looks dull, or feels fiber-y, use a fine-grade sandpaper to gently sand the surface. Wipe the dust off with a towel. Cut a lemon in half and rub a fresh lemon all over the surface of the wood not missing any spots! Wipe again with a towel. Then apply a food-safe mineral oil or specialty wood oil like Boos Block Mystery Oil. Apply liberally, rubbing into the wood with the grain; allow to sit and condition the wood for 10 minutes before wiping off the excess oil. Do NOT use vegetable or olive oil on your wood; it will go rancid and ruin your wood.

This level of deep cleaning maintenance should be done at least 4 times a year. I call it 'seasonal maintenance' because it helps me remember to treat my wood with each change of the seasons which is every 3 months or so. It only takes a minute, but you'll love what it does for your wood! I keep a small pack of fine sandpaper tucked right in between my cutting boards so it's handy when I need it. 

Anything worth having requires a little elbow grease and heart. And caring for your wood just takes a little know-how! Your pots, knives, fudge, and grandchildren will love you for it!