What is a crumb-brush? It’s a mini broom or whisk, designed to gently sweep tiny crumbs and dust off delicate objects. Crumb-brushes are traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies. These tea brushes are usually made of shuro, otherwise known as palm fiber, from sustainably grown Chinese Windmill Palm trees. Use them to to easily clean up your table, tablecloth, and countertops.
History of the crumb-brush
Crumb-brushes were originally known (in English) as crumbers.
Throughout restaurant history, table crumbers — the tools used to sweep stray crumbs and bits of food off of tabletops — have taken many forms. For example, they could be a small brush and pan, a tiny brush on its own (which sweeps crumbs into a waiter’s hand), or a flat metal scraper or blade, with or without a handle. [Eater.com]
“A crumber (also called a table crumber) is a tool designed to remove crumbs from a tablecloth, used especially in fine dining situations. The modern form of the crumber was invented in 1939 by John Henry Miller, owner of a restaurant on West Fayette Street in Baltimore. The crumber was intended to be carried “conveniently in the pocket”, and less conspicuous than the brush and pan customarily used to remove crumbs after the meal. Miller obtained a patent for his invention in 1941, and another patent for improvements in 1946. Ultimately he sold his patents to the Ray Machine company of Baltimore, which still manufactures and sells the tool. As of 2010, Ray Machine was selling about 85,000 crumbers per year.” [Wikipedia]
The crumb-brush in Japan
Tawashi are traditional brushes made from the fibers of the windmill palm. For centuries such brushes have been used in Japan for cleaning pots and dishes.
“The soft, natural fibers of the windmill palm ensure that brushes have the perfect combination of pliancy and firmness for removing grease and food particles, even from your best glasses and dishware, without scratching. They’re also ideal for cleaning fruits and vegetables. They gently lift away dirt without damaging the skin, so you never have to sacrifice nutrition or flavor in the name of cleanliness.” [Takada Tawashi]