Learning everything there is to know about cutting board care was a must for me!
We were gifted a generously sized, beautiful wood cutting board variating with tone and color, natural wood knots, and a carved juice well for our wedding nearly fifteen years ago. I was one of our few prized possessions in our first apartment in Chicago. I know many joke that their first apartment is tiny, but the kitchen was BEYOND TINY! (I’ve had closets since then bigger than that kitchen.)
I learned to maximize what space we had by placing the cutting board over the kitchen sink, giving us more countertop space if you will. While this had a two-fold effect, extra space and good encouragement to keep dirty dishes out of the kitchen skin – it also was the demise to our beloved cutting board.
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Little black spots began to decorate our cutting board, commonly referred to as, mold! Laying the board on top of a damp sink for long periods of time caused mold to grow into the wood. My husband said we had to toss it and at the time, I was lost on how to save it.
Fortunately, in recent years I have learned how to remove mold from wood cutting boards and how to restore them to their prime with natural conditioning spoon butter.
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What is Spoon Butter?
Spoon butter also is known as wood butter or cutting board cream is a traditional wood conditioning cream. (Say that three times fast!)
Just like body butter, spoon butter can help prevent drying and cracking. It can be used for wood boards, wood spoons, wood handles on utensils and even for bamboo cutting board care. This simple mixture of oil and beeswax will help prevent cracking, splitting, and in short prolong the lifespan of your kitchen prep tools.
Cooks’ Illustrated said, “homemade spoon butter is a more durable, water-repellent option for wood kitchenware compared to mineral oil.” In fact, they conducted a study testing the effectiveness of mineral oil and spoon butter. The study revealed mineral oil left wood kitchenware dried, ashen, and with areas of rough spots. While spoon butter retained a protective coating leaving kitchenware with a noticeable smooth appearance.
If your wood kitchen tools are starting to look dried out from regular use it’s time to change the way you care for them. With a little thought and a conditioning spoon butter treatment, you can extend their life, lasting decades in your home.
How do you make a conditioning spoon butter to extend the life of your wood kitchenware?
Like your mother’s apple pie recipe, it all comes down to choosing the best ingredients to create an incredible spoon butter recipe! We’ll look at the three main ingredients needed to make spoon butter and what the best options are for utensils and wood cutting board care below.
Beeswax is a non-toxic, food safe, natural wax produced by honey bees. It is a popular ingredient for cutting board care because beeswax has water-resistant traits that prevent drying and cracking. Not to mention it’s hydrating ability to maintain a beautiful shine in wood. I prefer beeswax pellets over beeswax bars for creating DIY recipes. Pellets are easy to measure and melt more quickly than bars. You can find them a small bag here or in a large bag here.
Carnauba Wax is the hardest natural wax available, and it is not a product of bees like traditional beeswax, which makes it a great choice for vegans. Carnauba wax is derived from the leaves of palm trees native to Brazil. Locals call it Brazil wax and fans often refer to it as the “Queen of Waxes” prized for its multipurpose use. Carnauba wax is a key ingredient in dental floss, automobile wax, and vegan cosmetics such as lip balm and lipsticks. It can also be used for wood cutting board care, butcher blocks, and wood utensils. And like beeswax, it’s non-toxic and completely food safe. You can find carnauba wax flakes in a small bag here or in larger amount here.
What to Avoid:
It may be tempting to use cheap oil you have on hand, such as canola oil, olive oil, or sunflower oil for wood cutting board care. But all vegetable oils should be avoided when it comes to maintaining your wood kitchen tools. You see, vegetable oils go rancid fairly quickly, a process of decomposition or chemical change which results in a foul smell and unpleasant taste. Who wants to prepare food with kitchenware that smells bad and may cause your food to taste bad? Count me out!
Mineral Oil is a popular non-drying product derived from petroleum, ranging from a grade of C to F by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Mineral oil has a high concern for asthma, respiratory issues, skin allergies, and skin irritation. And mineral oil in paraffin wax, a common ingredient for wood cutting board wax and butcher block wax, is known to cause cancer (EWG). Not to mention mineral oil is recommended for use as a laxative. So if you don’t need any help in that department and you prefer to avoid ingesting petroleum products than it’s best to avoid mineral oil.
What to Use:
Walnut Oil is often an overlook oil extracted from English walnuts, found in the gourmet aisle of the grocery store. It is non-toxic, rich in saturated fats and linoleic acid a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid. It has a pleasant scent and you don’t have to worry about it spoiling like vegetable oils. Walnut oil is used for a wide range of things from culinary uses to wood treatments and wood finishing products as a method to preserve the wood. It’s even used in personal care products to extend shelf life. Therefore, walnut oil is an excellent ingredient in spoon butter!
Coconut Oil is a great alternative to walnut oil for those of with a nut allergy concern. Extracted from the meat of mature coconuts and high in saturated fats like walnut oil, coconut oil is effective for maintaining wood and bamboo cutting boards. It is slow to oxidize but, over time it will become rancid and cause quite a stink. Luckily, you can purchase highly refined coconut oil that will not go rancid, specifically designed to care for wood cutting boards. It is odorless and doesn’t retain the taste of coconut so it won’t interfere with whatever recipes you are preparing. You can find this vegan-friendly, natural oil in two convenient sizes here.
Lemon juice is an incredible green cleaning tool! It contains citric acid – a mild acid that fights water spots, hard water stains, and bacteria. A great combination of properties to prolong the life of your kitchen prep tools!
Lemon essential oil is a powerhouse in homemade cleaning recipes, commonly used to de-grease, remove stains, and deodorize. Its zesty aroma wipes out strong, unpleasant odors and will make your cutting boards smell amazing!
Restore and Maintain your Wood Kitchenware with a Conditioning Spoon Butter
I have found that this recipe for lemon conditioning spoon butter is by far the best for providing a long-lasting finish and beauty to my wood kitchen tools. This spoon butter is free of mineral oil made with only natural ingredients. This revitalizing blend of beeswax, walnut oil, and lemon essential oil will prevent drying and cracking when applied to your wood cutting boards, bowls, salad tongs, and other utensils.
Ultimately creating a rejuvenating wood with a superior level of protection! You can easily customize this spoon butter recipe below by selecting ingredients based on your preferences for vegan-friendly or nut allergy-free products.
Lemon Conditioning Spoon Butter Ingredients:
3 ounces walnut oil or coconut cutting board oil
⅛ cup beeswax pellets or carnauba wax flakes
3 drops lemon essential oil or ⅛ teaspoon lemon juice
2 2-ounce metal tins
How to Make Spoon Butter:
Using the double boiler method fill the bottom pot with a small amount of water. Place on the stovetop and begin to warm on medium to low heat. Add a ⅛ cup of beeswax pellets or carnauba wax flakes to the top pot.
Melt wax on low heat stirring occasionally. Next, add 3 ounces of walnut oil or coconut cutting board oil to the melted wax. Stir until the mixture is completely melted and combined.
Remove from heat and add 3 drops of lemon essential oil or ⅛ teaspoon lemon juice. Stir to incorporate the lemon into the spoon butter. After carefully pour into metal tins and allow to cool before placing the lids on top.
This homemade spoon butter recipe will keep for a minimum of 4 months. I recommend making natural products in small batches such as this. Simply make more when you have used up the first batch.
How to Condition Wood Cutting Boards and Wood Utensils
If you have wood surfaces and tools in your kitchen that needs a little TLC – treat them well with a homemade spoon butter. Use the following four-step tutorial to condition and main your wood kitchenware in a mere handful of minutes.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Soft Kitchen Towel
- Homemade Spoon Butter (recipe above)
4 Steps to Caring for Wood Cutting Boards and Butcher Blocks
1st Step: Clean the Wood
The first step to caring for any wood surface or tool is to keep it clean! Use our techniques here to naturally clean, disinfect, remove stains, deodorize, and keep out mold. Then let the items you’ll be conditioning, thoroughly dry before moving to the second step.
2nd Step: Apply Spoon Butter
Using a clean, soft kitchen towel apply the spoon butter in an even layer over the wood. Work the butter in circular motions into the grain of the wood.
3rd Step: Allow to Soak and Condition
If you haven’t conditioned your wood tools in a while, you may find another coat is needed after the first has had some time to soak in. Once you are finished applying spoon butter allow to soak and condition for a minimum of four hours or overnight if possible.
4th Step: Remove Excess Butter
Using a dry, clean kitchen cloth or paper towel, buff away excess butter. This will keep your woodware from feeling damp or sticky.
Repeat these steps every few months or whenever your wood surfaces begin to look dry or dull.
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How do you care for wooden spoons and other utensils?
The process is quite similar for caring for wooden spoons and other utensils as it is for cutting boards and butcher blocks. And they too can greatly benefit from conditioning them every few weeks. You’ll find when doing so they don’t crack as easily or dry out quickly with regular use. Here are a few quick steps on how to clean, moisturize and protect wood salad bowls, spatulas, spoons, and more.
3 Steps to Wood Utensil Care:
- To clean your wood utensils after everyday use: Fill a sink or bowl with warm water. Then use a non-abrasive scrubbing pad and a drop of castile soap to remove food debris and clean.
- Next, rinse each utensil well under warm running water. You never want to soak wood utensils in a sink full of water! That will cause them to crack and severely warp.
- Allow drying then use the previous steps above to condition them with spoon butter.
Making spoon butter takes a little effort up front, but the results are well worth it. And you’ll quickly find using spoon butter for your cutting board care has long-lasting results. Results you may want to share with a friend… This all-natural petroleum-free spoon butter recipe makes a great housewarming gift. You can easily double or triple the recipe above to make several tins to gift.
Oops! Did I forget to mention this recipe has a dreamy, lemon honey scent that will even moisturize your hands? No gloves needed for this kitchen clean up! Pin this lemon conditioning spoon butter now. And tag #lifenreflection on Instagram to share your natural cleaning tips with us.