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How to maintain butcher block used for pastry work ?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I'm trying to figure out what to use to refinish some large maple butcher block tables we use for working pastry and bread in our restaurant in San Francisco.

They've gotten a bit dirty, so I'll scrape (or sand if necessary) down to clean wood - no problem there.


If you google for what to refinish with, the best answer seems to be a mineral oil & beeswax combination (links below).

But that is just general, albeit good, advice to keep the wood from drying out, and for closing open pores in the wood.


Is that going to be ok for butcher block used for pasty making ?

Or should I just leave it dry (which doesn't sound like a great idea).


The idea with the recipe is that the mineral oil penetrates, and the beeswax seals, leaving a nice hard working surface.

Some people mineral oil first, then the use the recipe.


But I want to make sure I don't create some kind of oily surface and make trouble for the pastry chefs.


What do you all do, if anything ?




Mineral oil & beeswax recipes :

Edited by kbarb - 6/24/16 at 9:35am
post #2 of 7

I don't have a large-scale table like the one you are talking about, but I use mineral oil on my wood cutting blocks and bamboo cutting boards.  Everytime I have to apply water to the board for cleaning, I finish it with mineral oil to avoid the wood from drying out.  Within 10 minutes (Or less, I havent checked) the board is no longer oil-y.  Conditioners--like the ones containing beeswax that you were talking about also work great but from my experience it is best to leave them to sit for a day or two. But they really do work great.  


One time I went out of town and when I came back I found that my roommate left my cutting block wet overnight (my all-clad, too :mad:) and I was furious.  I used mineral oil and a few hours later I used a butchers block conditioner, much like the one you have shown above.  I used a large amount on the wood, let it sit over night, and wiped off the excess in the morning. After a day of drying it was good as new.



Conditioners work, but I think they're only necessary in really drastic situations.  Maybe use it once and maintain with oil after that.  Mineral oil is great for a daily routine, maybe add it to the closing checklist each night.  

post #3 of 7

I have owned my own pastry shop for years as well as other restaurants and I always use the mineral oil & beeswax combo for all my boards and Boos surfaces that I worked pastry on. Like the post said above, make sure you let the penetration of the oil/beeswax happen overnight or even for a couple of days making sure that you wipe on the oil, leave for 30 mins and then wipe off any excess. 

post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks a lot for your replies.


@Freshbaked . . . and you're using your boards for pastry and the like ? (I'd imagine, since we're in that forum)


Mineral oil & beeswax I'm sure are the ticket for butcherblock, I just wanted to make sure they'd be ok for pastry surface.

Sounds like it should be ok from your responses; I'm more reassured now and will give it a whirl. I just ordered the beeswax for this alchemy project, on Ebay.


Thanks again !

Edited by kbarb - 6/24/16 at 10:07pm
post #5 of 7
Originally Posted by kbarb View Post

Thanks a lot for your replies.

@Freshbaked . . . and you're using your boards for pastry and the like?

Yes I am!
post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 

I can report back . .


That mineral oil + beeswax concoction seems to be the right thing.
I scraped off one table, sanded it with 150, then 220 using a belt sander, then applied straight mineral oil and let it sit overnight.
The table really soaked up a lot of oil.
The next day I applied a hot melted mix of 5/6 mineral oil + 1/6 beeswax (by volume), let it sit for a half hour, then buffed it out quickly by hand with terry cloth.
It probably took all total about an hour or a little more for one table.
It feels really sealed up nice and tight, and water beads up on it now. But it'll be interesting to see how it holds up and what the bakers' takes on it are over time.
This is 5/6 mineral oil + 1/6 beeswax, before it gels.
Reading around the net I saw recommendations for 1/6 to 1/5 beeswax.


Here it is cooled down and solidified - kind of like lotion but eventually gets about like paste floor wax :


Scraping one table down, most of it untouched at this point :



After the mineral oil + beeswax treatment has dried and been buffed :



You can see the difference comparing it to the three other tables.

And it was the dirt on the two on the left that was bugging me, getting me to start the project :

Edited by kbarb - 7/13/16 at 10:16pm
post #7 of 7

Looks great!! Good job! Your bakers should be happy. You will also notice that when they start to use them again because of all the flour use the table will seem to get "dirty". Don't freak out, its just the way the flour sticks to the table at times. Nothing a good cleaning will not take care of. You will have to re-wax the tables again after a while because you have to clean the tables constantly. It happens. ;)

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