by Louis N. Carreras, Woodcarver
The old term for woodenware used in the kitchen is “treen” – from the Middle English for tree or wood. I create my treen mostly from native New England cherry. I work in other woods, notably maple, lavender, redbud, birch, and walnut, but I mainly prefer cherry.
Cherry is my favorite due to its food safety, appearance, and durability.
I avoid many wood species because of the uncertainty of their food safety.
My treen is all about curves and shapes. Over the years, I’ve learned that every chef and cook has different standards for perfect shapes, curvature, or size. So I tend to make a large variety.
Most of my treen get finished with multiple coats of USP Mineral Oil. This food-safe coating penetrates the wood, prevents the wood from absorbing tastes, and helps preserve the treen. I advise customers to recoat their treen periodically to maintain the wood and seal tastes and odors out. USP Mineral Oil is available in all drugstores and the pharmacy aisles of most food stores.
In recent years, I have experimented with a food-safe hard varnish that does a beautiful job of sealing the wood with a durable coating while leaving the cherry grain on display. I now use this finish on all my bowls. The varnish can be used on spoons, spatulas, and other items, but it must be applied in place of the mineral oil. If you order treen from me, you must specify which finish you prefer before purchase. There is no difference in price, just how I finish the treen.
Please remember that treen must not be put in dishwashers or left immersed in wash basins. Wash your woodenware carefully, dry and recoat with oil periodically for many years of safe use.