Farewell, my bannetons
I just had to throw away my two rather expensive wooden bannetons, and I had to share my story.
As many of you know, you are never, ever, supposed to wash bannetons. You let the dough rise, and then you just tap out the excess flour. In San Diego I've had them for two years, and they were fine. Now I am in Israel, where the climate is different. The summer is much hotter and much more humid, which makes a difference, insect wise. I was going to use the bannetons tonight, after not having touched them for a few months. To my horror, they were full with little tan dots. These are either insect eggs or yeast spores (the dots did look a lot like granular yeast), but I am going with insect eggs as the more likely suspects. I am just glad I caught them at this stage, before all the insects were born (although I have the exterminators coming this Thursday).
At first I tried to wash the bannetons. This not only did not help much (there were eggs between the crevices of the wood), but also taught me why bannetons should never touch water. The wood is very soft, and the water made it expand and splinter. To the bin they go (not that I could have ever brought myself to use them after having seen them infested with insect eggs). I do this with a heavy heart but with no regrets.
The most annoying thing about this is that it wasn't easy to get the bannetons. I had to specially mail order them. I made sure to get the wooden, highest-quality, ones. And now they're gone. Poor me. The next set of bannetons I buy will be plastic. At least those can be easily cleaned.