How to Clean a Rolling Pin
Caring for a Wooden Rolling Pin
Though there are many alternatives to wooden rolling pins these days, some people still swear by their wooden ones, many of which will last for decades if properly cared for. Unlike modern ceramic or plastic rolling pins, however, wood can be a little bit of a challenge to maintain.
Cleaning Your Wood Rolling Pin
The first thing to know is what not to do. You should never let your wooden rolling pin soak in water, nor should you put it through the high temperatures a dishwasher will reach in its drying cycle. These things can cause the wood of your rolling pin to mold, warp, or split, making it useless as a kitchen utensil.
Instead of tossing your rolling pin into the sink once you're done using it, follow these simple steps to clean it. For best results, this should be done immediately after using it.
- Wipe the crumbs and flour from your rolling pin with a dry washcloth or a paper towel.
- With a damp washcloth, wipe off any remaining flour and debris from your rolling pin.
- Wipe your rolling pin dry immediately, letting it air dry on a rack or peg as well if necessary.
And you're done! That's really all it takes to care for your wooden rolling pin, but if you still have questions, read on.
What About Soap? Or Bleach?
Some people recommend avoiding soap when washing wooden rolling pins, but most dishwashing detergents are perfectly safe if not allowed to soak into the wood. Any mild detergent that can be used to wash a wood-handled knife or wooden cutting board is acceptable.
For a deeper clean, especially if your rolling pin has been collecting dust for a while, you may dip your rolling pin for a brief amount of time in sudsy water, or in bleach solution (one tablespoon of unscented bleach to a gallon of water). An alternative to soaking the entire pin is to wrap it instead in a cloth soaked in the solution. Always rinse and dry thoroughly before storing, and never use heat to dry your rolling pin.
Should I Season My Rolling Pin? And What With?
Many people recommend that you season your wooden rolling pin, though it is not normally necessary for pins that have been properly cared for. To season your rolling pin, first make sure it is clean and dry, not dusty or damp. Moisten a clean cloth with a small dollop of food grade mineral, butcher block, or salad bowl oil, then lightly wipe the entire surface of the rolling pin. Wipe off any excess oil with a clean cloth. The handles do not need to be seasoned.
You should never use vegetable or olive oil to season a wooden rolling pin, as these can turn rancid and add unwanted flavors to your baking. If you've ever tasted food baked in pans greased with expired shortening, you'll know what I mean. Neither should you use any oil which is not certified as food grade - mineral oil is normally safe if found in the pharmacy section, otherwise check the label.
If you do prefer to season your rolling pin, you do not need to do so after every use. Seasoning once a year should be plenty unless you use your rolling pin more than twice a week.
What About Mold?
Unfortunately, mold spells the end of the life of your wooden utensils and rolling pins. Though you can kill some of the mold with bleach, there's no guarantee that it will get all of the mold spores hiding inside the porous surface of your wood. The stains mold leaves are also impossible to remove without resorting to sanding or to harsh chemicals which are just as bad in your wooden rolling pin (or rather the food you cook with it) as the mold itself would be.
My Rolling Pin Is Cracked. Can I Save it?
In some cases, a crack in your wooden rolling pin can be repaired. You'll need some food-grade mineral oil, a clean cloth, and a little luck. Make certain your rolling pin is clean and completely dry (and if you're at all concerned about mold which might have gotten into the crack, you may want to briefly dip it in bleach solution as described above). Then liberally apply mineral oil by wrapping the rolling pin in an oil-soaked cloth or simply rubbing it in a bit at a time. This should restore the wood's original moisture level and cause it to expand, closing the crack.
For larger cracks, you may have to take it to a wood repair specialist. As the price of replacement kitchen equipment continues to go down, these services are becoming more expensive and harder to find, but for an antique or heirloom rolling pin, it may be worth the price.
If your pin is beyond repair, you still need not throw it away. Wood has a character all its own, and many people enjoy decorating with wooden antiques. You can hang the pin from a wall, or sell it to antiques shop if it is old enough. One man's trash is another man's treasure.
How do you care for your rolling pin?