How to treat a new wood peel

I need to get some new wood pizza peels and I was wondering how/what you do to treat them?

I was thinking of just oiling them with mineral oil. Anyone do anything different?

Thanks :slight_smile:

When I got new peels, I would mark the different sizes on it and then I would rub in flour. It always seemed to work well for me.

Thanks Jim, but why would you mark sizes on them?

When I worked in the mall, I marked it at a 16" round so that we would stretch the pizzas large enough. It was a cheat sheet for new pizza makers. I wanted consistency in the pizzas being made.

Are you still allowed to use wood peels?..In some places I think that is not allowed…

Ah, ok. We’ve always build our pizzas on screens and cook them the first 4 minutes on the screen so the bottom does not burn before the top browns up nicely. Then the last two minutes or so we take them off the screen to crisp up the bottom.

Why would they be not allowed?

There has been some past discussion about wood utensils not being liked by some health departments…

Well, those health departments must be entertaining places to work. It would be like living in a movie that was a cross between “Groundhog Day” and “Dumb and Dumber.” It would be non-stop, relentless, dumbness. :smiley:

We use wood peels and have never had our health department say anything about it

What about a wood dough table? Those are pretty much industry standard, no?

How is using a wood dough work table different than using a wood utensil. Or a wood rolling pin?

I’ve worked in no less than 10 other pizza shops outside the company that I now own 2 stores in, mostly chains but also 2 single store indys, and have never worked on a wooden dough table. The health department here would not have a problem with a wooden table or peel, but “standard” is likely more of a regional thing rather than an industry thing.

If not a wood dough table, what do you prepare (portion, roll, etc.) your dough on? Stainless? HDPE?

I guess I need to be more observant at other establishments :slight_smile:

At one store I’m using a stainless table and at the other I’m using a corian countertop. I’ve seen granite used quite often as well, but stainless is what I see the most.

Hey Paul…how is the corian for you? I cannot see any real downside past initial cost. I like the wooden tables like Boo’s makes with the concaved corners into the backsplash for a seamless top… but getting the same with corian… easy cleanup and I am guessing with corian being non-porous and heat resistant that you have a good choice there?

Oh…a comment on wood tops. I know growing up around Chicago wood was all they used. Then in the 80’s-early 90’s they went through the “is wood sanitary” phase and everyone thought the wood was not able to be cleaned effectively. If I remember this correctly…it is actaully enzymes in the wood itself that help kill bacteria and keep the tops clean 'internally" per say. I know where I am now that I have seen them still in use. Might be a midwest thing. Poly tops took over most commercial and industrial operations years ago for the ease of care… but my family bought out old meat-packing facilities that used to process for Wilson Foods back in the day… and everything was 3-6" think SOLID tables that weighed a ton. Years of knife marks but they never rotted or looked in bad shape. Looks like with regular cleaninhg they held up great. As far a pizza shops go… I think it is really just a personal preference for the most part. They all have pros and cons.

The biggest problem with wood table tops is that they eventually become cracked or the seams begin to open up making them impossible to clean. This need not be a problem IF you know how to clean and maintain them. Wood table tops should be soaked in white mineral oil overnight to seal them, then the excess oil wiped off, periodically, use a metal blade bench scraper to scrape the top, this maintains the smooth working surface. BUT, the bench scraper MUST be properly sharpened. The blade is correctly sharpened with a 90-degree angle along the bottom edge (this is a fact that is little known, even by the most “informed” bakers). By sharpening the blade in this manner the scraper actually scrapes the surface clean rather than cutting and gouging into the surface which is what ultimately destroys the working surface, then each night simply wipe on some mineral oil and buff it off in the morning and you’re good to go with a perfectly conditioned bench top. Too bad they are not allowed by most health departments. As for my personal preference, I really like a stainless steel bench top, clean, easy to maintain, pretty bullet proof, and they make it REALLY easy to open a dough on if you’re like me and open the dough by hand stretching on the table top.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

That’s good information Tom, thanks!

Given how this discussion has turned, I guess my next question is that if your health department allows wood tables (and ours does), and you have an old top that needs to be reconditioned, what is the best way to do this?

Sand it down, and reseal with white mineral oil? I would imagine sanding it properly so that is keeps a smooth level surface is going to be tough, especially when the heavier work areas need more sanding that the less used areas.

We have carefully sanded our wood tops, actually you can do a pretty good job if you are careful, then soak the top in mineral oil until ti won’t absorb any more, this usually takes a day or so, then wipe with a clean towl and you’re ready to use it.
P.S. The trick is NOT to use a very aggressive sanding paper. We used a small commercial drum sander to do ours. Got it from the local rental company.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor