Olivewood kitchen tools
What you need to know about your olivewood kitchen tools
Olivewood is a great choice of material when it comes to making all kinds of spatulas, spoons, salad bowls, (cutting) boards and other kitchen tools. It's not only incredibly beautiful, each piece having a unique look because of the often wild grain, but also a very strong and sustainable material that can last for decades when properly cared for.
The supply of olivewood is fairly limited, the main source being pruned branches and trimmings. Additionally, when an olive tree finishes fruiting (which can take hundreds of years), the whole tree can be cut down for timber. Because of the wood being relatively rare, it's especially important to cherish and properly care for it.
Is olivewood food safe?
Olive is a slow growing tree with extremely dense, tight grain, making it durable and smooth. It can withstand sharp blades with minimal scratching and its high density keeps meat juices from being absorbed through the pores and odors from lingering. More importantly, olivewood has natural antibacterial properties: after manual cleaning (putting any type of wood in the dishwasher is not recommended, no matter how dense) with hot water and dish soap, residual bacteria will be trapped inside, so they cannot multiply and will die.
Because of this, using olivewood kitchen tools is not just an aesthetic choice, but a healthy one too.
How to clean olivewood kitchen tools
After using your cutting board or any other olivewood tool, simply wipe it clean with a microfiber cloth soaked in hot soapy water and dry immediately. You might occasionally want to sanitize your wooden cutting board with cooking salt, by rubbing the salt into the wood with some lemon juice. Wipe off the rub after, rinse the board quickly and apply some neutral cutting board oil. This is one of the best ways to naturally sanitize the surface.
Make sure to never put olivewood products in the dishwasher. The detergent and prolonged heat of the dishwasher can warp, damage and dry out the wood. Also make sure to never soak them in water, as the wood will start swelling, causing the grain to raise and the wood to crack.
How to maintain olivewood kitchen tools
As with most wood products, you should apply a thin coat of oil to your olivewood tools every now and then to keep them healthy. Oiling the wood fills in its pores, keeping it protected, moisturized, and supple. As the oil gets absorbed by the wood, it oxidizes and hardens to become part of the wood structure. This creates a non-greasy finish that protects the wood from water, stains, dust and other contaminants.
If you consistently fail to oil your olivewood utensils, they will eventually dry out and crack. Before they reach this point, though, you’ll notice the wood become dull and hazy. Its dusty, pale appearance signals the need for conditioning. Take time to treat your wood before it reaches this point, and your olivewood tools, bowls and boards should last for many, many years.
What kind of oil should I use to treat olivewood?
The best oil to use for treating olivewood is a food grade mineral oil. It's thin, non-toxic, anti-drying, completely odorless, colorless, and won’t affect the flavor of your food.
Alternatively, a neutral oil like sunflower oil or soybean oil can be used, but doesn't have all of the same advantageous properties.
- Apply a small amount of oil to a lint-free cloth or towel or a soft kitchen paper towel.
- Gently rub the oil into the wood using small circular motions.
- Continue to apply more oil to your cloth / paper towel as needed until the entire surface of the wood is covered in a thin layer of oil.
- Allow the wood to sit for at least 12 hours.
Avoid over-oiling your olive wood! You only need a thin coat of oil to restore the wood to pristine condition.
What to do if your olivewood begins to smell?
Olivewood has a naturally sweet and bright scent. However, after prolonged use without proper cleaning, the wood can begin to smell. The unpleasant scent can be neutralized by applying a mixture of baking soda and water to the wood. Let the mixture sit for at least 30 minutes before washing it off. If the rancid scent lingers, squeeze lemon juice onto the wood and gently massage it into the utensils, bowl or board. Wash away the juice and let the wood dry completely.