New life for your wooden salad bowl
Recently I inherited the most beautiful wooden salad bowl from my mother-in-law. I loved the shape and the patina was extraordinary. It brought back fond memories of dinners in their home enjoying one of my father-in-law’s famous caesar salads. I remember them telling me when we were newly married that you never wash a wooden salad bowl with soap and water, it takes away the “seasoning” of the bowl. Just a little water and a dish brush will clean it perfectly, wipe it dry and store it away. I remember thinking could this be sanitary??? Fast forward 35 years later and here is one of their salad bowls in my possession and the only thing that was wrong with it was this sticky residue that I couldn’t seem to get off.
I tried a couple of things and then I did what I usually do when I am stuck…hello Google! There it was, the perfect guide to taking care of a sticky salad bowl and making it new again courtesy of Cook’s Illustrated. Below I have copied their instructions, I tried it and it worked like magic!
Certain salad oils, like olive oil, leave a residue over time. Since my in-laws subscribed to the “old school” philosophy of never using soap, this was the outcome. I am happy to report I now have a beautiful bowl that was used time and time again over the years by my husband’s family that we now will enjoy for years to come, hopefully passing it down to our children.
FROM COOK’S ILLUSTRATED: To Remove Sticky Buildup: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 275 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper and set wire rack in sheet. Place bowl upside down on rack. Turn off oven (don't forget this step or bowl might burn) and place sheet in oven. Within minutes, oils will start to bead on surface of bowl. After 1 to 2 hours, oils will run off bowl and onto sheet. Once bowl appears dry, remove sheet from oven and wipe down bowl with paper towels to remove any residue. (If bowl is still sticky, repeat baking process.)
To Reseason: Whenever bowl becomes dry or dull-looking, reseason it: Use paper towel to liberally apply mineral oil, which won't turn rancid like oils used in salad dressings, to all surfaces of bowl. Let stand for 15 minutes, then wipe away residue with clean paper towel.
To Clean and Maintain: Use mild dish soap and warm water to clean well-seasoned wooden bowl. Always dry bowl thoroughly after cleaning. Never put bowl in dishwasher or let it soak in water, as it will warp and crack.
Now you have the perfect care guide for your wooden salad bowl. Perhaps if you come across one in an antique shop, you will bring it home, care for it and enjoy it for years to come.