One of our friends asks about a utility table that they have in their kitchen and what would be the best way to resurface it to make it usable for food preparation in their kitchen. So, We are going to take a look at some of the possibilities that they have and recommend one that is probably the best and the safest way along with being the easiest way to get the job done.
At first look you can tell that their table has had a lot of love. There is some heavy staining and maybe a few burns from hot pots that have been placed on it. It seems like it is a utility table that is placed next to the stove while cooking that holds everything that they need for making dinner.
They are requesting a food safe finish and they have been rubbing it down with linseed oil. Another option would be mineral oil if it is labeled as food safe. You don’t want to buy any product even if you would normally consider it safe for food preparation if it doesn’t specifically say food safe. This will cost you a bit more but it is really necessary as some products might be general purpose and they may be manufactured in a way that is not safe for food preparation.
In all honesty though today we would say that wood is probably one of the last choices you want to make for food preparation. The problem with wood is that it is porous meaning it can absorb food and oils and other bacteria laden debris while cooking. If you were to mix different types of food such as raw chicken, turkey, beef, seafood and not take extreme care to clean the surface before making other items such as a fresh salad then you could make yourself sick.
Our recommendation to our friend is to get a piece of commercial grade nylon cutting board that is the same size as their table and affix it to the table with heavy duty double sided tape. You could also leave the cutting board loose and then use some type of dowels or pins in the corner to make sure it is not going to slip while using it.
Nylon used in commercial cutting boards is a step above what you can get for your home and it is very durable. The best thing about it is that it is food safe and easy to clean. You can wipe it down to remove most of the particles and debris and then after a light washing use a 10% bleach solution to sterilize the cutting board and it is as good as new.
Another benefit is that it is cheap and replaceable. You can buy large sheets and have it cut to the exact size of your table or you can use it on your countertop. Anything too large might be difficult to keep clean but you can expect to pay less than $10 per square foot and much less if you are buying from a distributor.
Although many chefs still like to cook using wood cutting boards the professional kitchens will not do this for safety reasons. We should adopt these standards in our homes and understand they are the best solution to our needs.