The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Need advice on bread bowl

SonyaF's picture
SonyaF

Need advice on bread bowl

i have my grandmother's wooden dough bowl.  It is over 100 years old.  During a recent remodel we had to put all our stuff in storage and mice got into the box the bowl was in. I could just cry.  How can I safely disinfect this bowl so I can continue to use it?

Thanks, Sonya 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I think I would rub it down or mist it with vodka.  Are there any stains from the mice?

SonyaF's picture
SonyaF

No, fortunately the bowl was on top and turned upside down.  I had not thought of using vodka. This bowl has been used for at least 5 generations and is my favorite keepsake from grandma.  Thank you so much!

sonya

Lechem's picture
Lechem

microwaving it would do? Vodka + a thoroughly good clean and then zapping it in the microwave. Makes sure its microwave friendly first.

PLEASE IGNORE MY ADVICE. SEE LAURIE'S COMMENT BELOW. 

IceDemeter's picture
IceDemeter

to the microwave.  With the nature of wood being that it holds liquids unevenly through the grain, I'd be highly concerned about spots of heat causing the wood to split.

The vodka is a great idea, and I'd follow it up by letting it dry out in the sunshine for a day or two or three.  I would then re-season the wood with mineral oil, or beeswax, or a mix of them (same as for a wooden cutting board).  A clean-up with the vodka, followed by sunshine, and a few rounds of seasoning that is allowed to dry in the sun would leave me feeling pretty comfortable about it.

Good luck on getting that heirloom back in to use!

SonyaF's picture
SonyaF

Thank you so much!

deblacksmith's picture
deblacksmith

Mini Oven's Vodka is a great idea, around her we would use moonshine :)  (backwoods of western North Carolina).  I would add that I would rub down the working surface with a 3M pad wet with the Vodka and than dry with a clean towel.  I would be careful about too much time in the sun as you don't want to have it to crack even if it is very seasoned from many years of use.  Beeswax is a good food safe item to treat the surface with but I would guess it never had anything on it.  Around here the old bread "trays" were just left natural.  A lot of biscuits and dough was made in these and if used for biscuits they might be used everyday of the year on the farm.  When done they would just be wiped down with a damp cloth and set aside for tomorrow morning.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

"...around her we would use moonshine..."   typo?     Please, don't preserve me that way.  Skin is dry enough but I would like to taste some.   Lol!   

If there are any rough surfaces, I would burnish them and not use sandpaper.  Even a fine sandpaper or 3M pad is too much.  Burnishing would be to rub the dry (no sunshine) wood surface with a polished stone or solid glass bobble.  Look through a polished egg collection for a good sample.   This should reseal the surface without oil or wax.   I'm no expert.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

for example... http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/34106/wooden-troughs

I wonder how much "mice" aroma adds to the dough?   Just kidding...nope.

IceDemeter's picture
IceDemeter

in different places!

With our extremes in weather, and extremes in humidity, I honestly don't know whether any unsealed wood item would last very long.  It may just be a family quirk, but anything wooden used for food in my clan has always been seasoned and sealed with beeswax, or mineral oil, or both.  That seasoning may also be why the clan has always gone by the credo that "sunshine makes everything better" - since we didn't have to worry about it potentially cracking unseasoned wood!

I had just assumed that the heirloom piece in question would have been seasoned as part of regular maintenance - oops!  It definitely would be a bad move to dry it in sunshine if it is unseasoned.

I would have to imagine that the interior would already be polished pretty much smooth from the decades of flour essentially "sanding" the surface, but burnishing as suggested by Mini Oven would definitely be the way to go if there are some rough patches showing up after being in storage.

Honestly, I think that I'd check with any local woodworkers, especially ones that specialize in refurbishing antiques, and see what they suggest.  I am starting to understand that local traditions and local requirements will vary.  You also haven't mentioned what kind of wood it is, and that could have an impact on best suggestion, too.

Again - good luck!  And thanks for posting, since there is always so much to learn from the folks here.

deblacksmith's picture
deblacksmith

From my family traditions (Mennonite on my father’s side) most wooden kitchen items would be made from maple.  Most folks think hard maple but soft works too.  This would include wood spoons, cutting boards, and dough troughs or as we called them tough trays.  Most started life as air dried wood and were put into use “bare”.  On some items beeswax may have been used.  Now these items became seasoned over time because they came into contact with various cooking fats, mostly lard and butter.  I have a cutting board made by my father in 1962 from soft maple that Carol and I have used every day for more than 50 years.  It was never “seasoned” other than from use – but it looks seasoned today just because of use.  It is also low in the center from thousands of cuts made on it.  I think a lot of wood kitchen items today are seasoned – a food safe penetrating finish – because they are sold and the customer thinks they need a finish.  It doesn’t do anything bad and may in fact extend the life of the item.

SonyaF's picture
SonyaF

These are all excellent suggestions.  I am going to try the vodka and then use the bees wax.  I only remember grandma making the biscuits not caring for the bowl.  I don't know what wood type it is but I believe it might be maple.  I only have two pints of my dad's moonshine left so I won't be using that on the bowl.  I am sure that grandma used enough lard to keep that bowl seasoned over the years but a good clean and seasoning should bring it up to snuff.  Thank you all for your helpful insight. 

Sonya

deblacksmith's picture
deblacksmith

I would not waste moonshine either - just a joke because a lot of it used to get made here (western North Carolina).  An interesting family history on my Minnonite side was that back in the late 1700's a direct family ancestor owned and ran a inn in south eastern PA.  In his will was recorded two stills (legal at the time) passed to the next generation.

Justanoldguy's picture
Justanoldguy

Well deblacksmith you might have had an ancestor that in 1791 rebelled against the then newly imposed Whiskey Tax. The time and place put it in the realm of possibility. Search for "Whiskey Rebellion". It was the birth of moonshine and the last time George Washington led troops in the field only this time he was fighting the rebels instead of being one himself. When it comes to mineral oil for dressing cutting boards or dough troughs you can find some expensive products on the market. Me, being as I'm a cheap old ...., I just bought a pint of drugstore brand mineral oil sold as a laxative and saved several dollars. I kinda suspected that if you can take it orally it's probably 'food grade'.