Food safe wood?

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by garten1, Dec 13, 2007.

  1. garten1

    garten1 Member

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    Can anyone help me figure out which type of wood is considered "food safe" ? I am interested in making my own rolling pins and cutting boards yet can't find information on what types of woods are non-toxic. I have searched endlessly but haven't been able to figure this out.

    I have seen beech wood cutting boards for sale and also maple. It's my understanding that beech isn't the best when it comes to toxicity though. Still, this doesn't stop housewares stores from selling it in relation to food preparation. I also know there are certain types of woods that shouldn't be burned due to toxic fumes but does this also apply to coming in contact with food?

    Thank you very much to anyone who can help.
     
  2. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Maple is the traditional wood for food utensils.

    Oh, and of course oak, for storing wine.

    Yes; oleander wood is notoriously toxic in this respect - people have been seriously poisoned (even killed, I think) by using oleander wood for meat skewers. Also never use laburnum wood for food utensils.
     
  3. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    I think you may have some luck if you do internet searches for specific types of wood you want to use plus the word "toxicity." I bought a cutting board made of purple heart a few years back, and for some reason felt compelled to look up whether it was safe, and I think that's what I did. You may end up finding summary articles that cover more types of wood, and also articles about the safety of working with the woods, which if I recall correctly was an issue with purple heart.
     
  4. garten1

    garten1 Member

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    Thanks so much for the advice everyone. Can't believe I didn't remember about oak being used for wine and spirits. I'll concentrate on oak and maple for my needs.

    Thanks again.
     
  5. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Bear in mind that oak will add significant tannin flavours. These are appreciated in wine, but not in most other foods!
     
  6. smivies

    smivies Active Member

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    Cedar plank Salmon is popular on the barbeque.....so Thuja occidentalis or plicata are safe too. Birch, an alternative source of tree sap syrup is also ok.
     
  7. NiftyNiall

    NiftyNiall Active Member 10 Years

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    Red Cedar is used for barbecuing, but it really should not be used, for direct contact with foods, many are allergic to it. Birch,Linden,Maple,Alder are all used for cutting boards, and are quite safe, Maple has the added bonus in that it contains compounds that hinder bacterial growth. I would never use oak for cutting boards, in direct contact with foods it will impart its characteristic acrid taste. Note that coniferous trees, are very rarely used; White pine was used here at one time for packing butter. I am sure that some of the other pines are suitable also, but they are to soft for cutting boards. Maple is the best, Linden(Tillia sp.) second...
     
  8. garten1

    garten1 Member

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    Again thanks. Such interesting info everyone has given. I've nixxed the oak idea and will check out maple. Who knew it hindered bacterial growth? (Thanks NiftyNiall)

    Just FYI, if oak is too pungent to come into contact with food I suspect cedar would be also--in a different yet same sort of way, wouldn't it?

    I'm not questioning anyone's opinion on birch but for some reason I think I have mistakenly given it a stigmatta ala cherry wood, which I know not to burn let alone eat off of (it makes nice furniture though, don't you think?). Even though I'll lean towards maple just for my own edification you guys are confident about birch being safe?

    Thanks
     
  9. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Like I said, I would do some Googling to find learned sources. Not that people here aren't learned, but most of us are giving you incidentally-gained or deduced knowledge. You need sources that have researched their info.
     
  10. NiftyNiall

    NiftyNiall Active Member 10 Years

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    Birch is fine to use, birch syrup tastes better than Maple syrup to my palate, Birch beer,MMMM.... Birch makes great firewood if aged properly, the only drawback is that it tends to leave behind a large piece of charcoal. Never use Cherry woods,(Prunus sp.) even though they have beautiful figure, and density, they contain small amounts of cyanic compounds.
     
  11. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    My Goats Luuuv Birch. I have not seen any of them with turned up hooves yet after consuming vast quantities of it. The wild parrots and possums (marsupials) over here also eat it.

    Liz.
     
  12. Chuck White

    Chuck White Active Member

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    Re maple and food safety: A number of years ago the food safety folks did a little study. The study had to do with bacterial contamination of cutting boards in commercial establishments. The rougher the surface of the "sanitary" plastic cutting boards, the more likely it would harbor bacteria, no matter the cleaning method used. The maple cutting board contains anti-bacterial compounds and actually can sanitize itself,to a degree, between uses.
     
  13. Dave-Florida

    Dave-Florida Active Member

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  14. joclyn

    joclyn Rising Contributor

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    bamboo is used in many utensils. it is quite sturdy, doesn't stain or take in odors from the food it's used with.

    i don't know if it's conducive to being used as a cutting surface. thought i'd mention it as an option for you to check into though!
     
  15. indaloman

    indaloman Member

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    To assume that because animals eat a certain food it is not same to assume the same applies to humans. Many berries for example eaten by birds are fatal to humans. I don't think anyone is suggesting that birch specifically is dangerous.

    Better woods are beech, olive, and apple
     

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