Guide to Kitchen Utensils, Pots, Pans and Accessories: Wooden Implements

About the uses, care, cost, and controvery surrounding wooden kitchen utensils, pots, pans, and accessories.

A Guide to Kitchen Utensils


Properties: The best ones are made of hardwoods such as beech, boxwood, certain oaks, and rock maple. Should be a very smoothly finished raw wood, or a wood that has been coated with penetrating wood sealer. Should not be painted.

Cost: Cheap if they are domestic, and expensive if they are imported. Comparison shopping is your best guide.

Use: Many and varied uses. Some of them are: breadboards; butter molds and paddles; cheeseboards; chopping or mincing bowls with woodhandled, curved choppers to fit; cutting boards; forks; meat tenderizers; mortar and pestles; noodle boards; ravioli and cookie pattern pins; rolling pins; salad bowls; scrapers; spatulas; spoons (they do not get hot and are gentle to the utensils); and steak and fish planks.

Care: Use different boards for different foods. For example, use one board for fruits and vegetables, another board for meat, and another board for breadmaking. (The latter should always be floured.)

A wooden implement needs only a brisk rubbing with a paper towel, or a damp cloth, and an occasional rinsing with warm water. Scrub with the grain. Wipe dry immediately. Too much soaking and the use of strong detergents and abrasives will dry out natural oils and warp wood. Store in open air. To sanitize, mix 1 Tbs. of chlorine bleach per quart of cold water and pour the mixture over the board. It is important to rinse well under hot running water. Wipe with a paper towel, then dry slowly, in the sun if possible. Moldy odors (caused by being stored in a closed place) can be eliminated by sprinkling salt, and rubbing lemon, on the entire surface (this also prevents darkening). Wash with warm water, and dry with a paper towel. Again, dry in the sun if possible. Never place a wooden implement near a heater because the natural oils will dry out.

A new cutting board, or any other new wood, should be seasoned with a coat of oil overnight before using. Next day wipe off the excess oil. A wet towel between the board and the table will keep the board from slipping.

To refinish: Remove the old finish with sandpaper; apply a mixture of mineral oil and pumice to the surface with cheesecloth, or a paper towel, and rub until the wood is smooth and dry (about 1/2 an hour). Allow to dry for 24 hours. Wipe off the pumice dust and repeat until the board feels satisfactory. Wash and dry.

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