Nothing brings out the vibrant colors of a salad more than a wooden serving bowl! In this tutorial, I show you how to prevent the fragile-esque nature of a wooden bowl from splintering damage but also the proper way to clean and preserve its beautiful finish.
Let's get started!
Step 1: Washing & Drying
Always remember that liquid is the worst enemy of wooden bowls.
That said, a quick wash in warm water and dish soap is the best way to clean this type of bowl. Make sure to use the soft side of a sponge, and not the abrasive side, as this will scratch up and remove any finishes already on the bowl.
Allow to air dry or better yet, towel dry as this will remove moisture quicker from the surface.
Step 2: No Heat!
Heat is another enemy of wooden bowls or utensils, as the rise in temperature can cause the grain to warp and split. Do not place bowls in microwave or in dishwashers. Hand washing is best, and if you need warmer foods in the bowl, heat them separately, then put in wooden bowl. However, liquidy foods such as soups should not be placed in wooden bowls.
Step 3: Seasoning
Seasoning is done to optimize the functionality of a bowl by removing any impurities from the grain and also helping to improve the taste and smell of the food inside. Enter in my favorite cleaning aide: lemons! Lemon juice is a well known antibacterial agent, and because wooden bowls are generally used to serve salads, it adds it's own a crisp flavor. However, if you do not want the added lemony flavor, do not season immediately before use.
Simply cut a lemon in half and rub the inside of the bowl with it, squeezing gently as you go allowing the juice to flow generously. Allow bowl to drain free of any excess juices before use.
Step 4: Vinegar Bath
Using a 1:5 ratio of vinegar and water, pour the mix into your bowl to adequately fill to the brim. Let stand for 10 minutes then proceed to Step 1 with washing and drying.
The antibacterial and anti-fungal properties of white vinegar helps to kill any bacteria that has managed to live in the porous surface of the wood.
Step 5: Oiling
Depending on how often your bowl is used and for what purpose, or just usually when the color begins to fade, you can resurface the bowl by rubbing it with food grade mineral oil (not vegetable oils as these will go rancid over time and affect taste of whatever is in the bowl.) Apply oil to a non-lint cloth like microfiber, or with just your fingers (some people swear this gets the oil deeper into the grain), going in the direction of the grain as much as possible. Allow to sit and use when dry to touch
This process is done to protect the wood from drying out and subsequently cracking, but also to help protect excess liquid from seeping into the grain.
Step 6: Storage
Another enemy of wooden bowls is direct sunlight. This can age the bowl prematurely, discoloring and drying it of its natural oils. Store bowls in a cool and dark place in a pantry to ensure longevity.