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How to care for wood cutting boards

How to care for your wood cutting board

You may not that a wood cutting board should be much different from any other piece of of equipment in your kitchen. Well, it's not as easy to use and wash as something made of metal or glass. Wooden cutting boards require more effort into conditioning and maintaining so that they will stay cleaner, work better, and last years longer. That means that the level of moisture in the grain continually changes, which can lead to warping or cracking. To prevent that, it’s important to replace the protective oils lost every time the board is washed with soap and water.

Oiling your new cutting board

"Season" your board by applying "heavy" mineral oil, which is food safe. You can purchase heavy mineral oil at your pharmacy or grocery store. It is best to apply the oil slightly warm and with a soft cloth in the direction of the grain. Warming the oil allows it to penetrate deeper into the wood. Let it soak into the wood for 15-30 minutes. Wipe off excess oil. Let site for 4-6 hours, to allow the oil to harden before using the board. 4-6 coats is ideal but it is not a do or die situation if you don’t apply that many, 2 is enough.

Proper Cutting Board Cleaning

Do not put your cutting board in the dishwasher, this is about the worst thing you can do for it's lifespan. It loosens glue joints and, worse completely dries the wood during the drying cycle. The over-drying will cause the board to split and crack and once it has done so, there is really no going back.

More often than not you will clean your board by just wiping it with a damp cloth and occasionally, you should wash it with soap and water. Also, don't soak the cutting board in water. You can towel dry and then place the board on its end or side to finish air drying; don’t leave it flat on the counter until it is fully dry.

If you are concerned about bacteria, spraying vinegar on your cutting board with a spray bottle is a good way to sanitize it. Using bleach is not a good idea because the organic composition of wood neutralizes the disinfectant quality of the bleach.

Re-oiling Your Cutting Board

Part of caring for your board is making sure the wood stays well oiled. It prevents cracks and splits that allow food particles or residue into the board.

Simply apply a thin coat of oil on with a soft cloth, making sure to coat the entire board, including the underside and especially the end grain. The surface should look wet all around. Allow the excess oil to soak in for about 15 minutes, then wipe dry with a paper towel. There is no need to wait to use the board as the heavy mineral oil is food safe and won’t interfere with your food prep.

How often should you re-oil and yes, you should. Ideally, once a month, after washing it with soap and water or when the board is looking dry. It will thank you for it. Again, pay close attention to the end grain.