Life's too short to eat bad food - Me

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic - Arthur C. Clarke

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Advice is like castor oil, easy enough to give but dreadful uneasy to take. - Josh Billings

Thoughts whilst oiling a cutting board:

I vividly remember the my first cutting board. I made it my 7th grade shop class at Brookside Middle School in suburban Rochester (shortly before I was suspended for my first and only time for saying f**k you to the shop teacher). It was made of hardwood 1x2, alternated oak and maple as I recall, glued together with Elmer's® Carpenter's Wood Glue, trimmed to 12x8, and sanded silky-smooth with care. It needed to be - it was a gift for my Mother. She died a couple of months later, a major contributing factor to my explosion with the shop teacher, an event that followed a few weeks later.

I don't mention that for the purpose of pathos, but rather to point out that the shop teacher was a rectum. One his many pearls of wisdom was to use salad oil (at that time it would have been Wesson Vegetable Oil) to treat and protect the wood of the cutting board. It took years, the purchase of a cutting board of my own, and the commencement of a commitment to the study of cookery, to realize how really bad his advice was - vegetable oil goes rancid.

The answer is mineral oil, found by the pint or quart in, of all places, the laxative aisle of your local pharmacy. So here is the reason I bring this issue up - over the years we have acquired two bottles of products that claim to be specifically designed to protect and preserve wood surfaces. No, we didn't pay for them. I probably should have just used them up, but I always thought there might be a lesson to be learned from them.

On the left is a 4 oz. bottle of "Wood Preserver" from Fox Run Craftsman. I don't know what it was purchased for, but today it would be $3.49. The ingredients list a mineral oil base, but nothing else. It has no taste or aroma, so my guess it's just mineral oil.

The middle option is Tree Spirit Mineral Oil. My bottle was 8 oz. for $2.99, but the best price I can find now is 12 oz. for $4.99. It is just mineral oil, but it also carries the claim that it is food safe. I cannot think of anything that would be more food safe that a product sold in a pharmacy for the purpose of being ingested by a human being.

That's the point - it's a scam. It may not be deceptive or misleading in a legal sense, but it's a scam. I don't care that it is targeted at people with more money than brains because each time the trust of people is abused by the food and cookery industry, it makes it harder for those who care to make a case.

Bottom line? Fox Run $.87/oz. Tree Spirit $.41/oz. Mineral oil from the local megamart $.11/oz!

Caveat Emptor!


ntsc said...

I use peanut oil and have never noticed it being rancid. Since I oil the entire top of the work table, except the granite, yearly I would think it would have become so.

One thing though it the oil seems to attract and hold dirt, or at least darken over time, several years now. I can and have sanded the surface back down. Since it is a food surface, other than the oil it is unfinished read oak flooring. About 4' x 9' with a granite slab about 2' x 3' in one side for pastry use.

Scotty said...

You see you have have the advantage of a permanent surface that you use (and clean) regularly. I cleaned mine but didn't use it often.

And, later research showed me that vegetable oils can act as a growth medium for bacteria.

Besides - mineral oil is cheap.


Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
- Arthur C. Clarke

Life's too short to eat bad food -