“My kitchen is a mystical place, a kind of temple for me. It is a place where the surfaces seem to have significance, where the sounds and odors carry meaning that transfers from the past and bridges to the future.” ♥ Pearl Bailey
That’s how I feel too; it makes me want to take care of my kitchen things, wash them, fix them, love them; give them some TLC. This is the “before” picture of my most-used and very dried-out cutting board.
Keeping wooden bowls, cutting boards, wooden spoons, any unfinished wooden thing (including my wooden kitchen tabletop) beautiful, is part of the care and feeding of a warm and glowy kitchen. So I want to show you how easy it is to do.
We’ll do the cutting board first, because it’s basically the same method for everything . . . what solves the problem, and puts the depth back into your wood, is Mineral Oil. Because, unlike other kinds of oil, it will not go rancid. You can get it at the supermarket, or at the drug store, or here, and keep it under your kitchen sink.
You can already see how much better the wood looks under the puddle of oil!
I use a pastry brush to paint the oil on. And since it has a wooden handle too, I soak the brush part in a bowl of hot water and dish soap when I’m done . . . no dishwasher for wooden things, it dries them out, takes all the color out of them, removes the patina of chicken soup and creamed butter and sugar, all that cookie-dough DNA you worked so hard to instill into these things. Just a quick hand-washing for them is fine.
The cutting board is done; now here is the “before” picture for one of my favorite spoons . . . a spoon that knows all my cooking secrets and the inside story of every dinner party I’ve ever given. Even though this spoon never sees the inside of a dishwasher, sooner or later, hot water, furnace and oven heat will take a toll, and a booster of Mineral Oil is needed to bring back her natural luster.
And now, she is oiled. We let her sit, absorbing, while we do the others.
This takes no time at all. After they’re all done, I let everything soak up the oil for a couple of hours; it will all disappear. See the “Sue” spoon in the middle? My dad made that with his own two hands. ♥ Sometimes you can find old wooden spoons, even handmade ones, in antique stores or at yard sales, and all they need is a good soapy washing and some mineral oil to bring them back to life, carrying all their cooking history with them, adding more “mystical” to your kitchen.
This pig board is another thing that’s been with me through thick and thin. I got him when I was in my early twenties and he’s followed me everywhere, from California to Martha’s Vineyard, from small apartment to New England house, through cookbook writing and Joe-meeting too. ♥
I never use wooden cutting boards for raw meat or fish, I have a plastic one for that. But every once in a while I will clean my wooden boards by sprinkling salt on them, rubbing them with lemon juice, then drying them well before I oil them.
Deep, dark, and delicious, here’s what they look like when they’re done; like they’re owned by a really good cook. Ready to return to their spot next to the stove, ready to help bring the past, through favorite old recipes (my grandma’s turkey stuffing, my mom’s peanut butter cookies!), into the future. ♥