How to Oil & Maintain Cutting Boards.
The most common question received each week at CuttingBoard.com is “How do I maintain my cutting board?”, so they put together this short set of instructions to help you out.
Maintaining a cutting board is a quick and easy task that will keep your board sanitary, looking new and extend the life of your board.
Proper Cleaning and Washing
Wash your cutting board with soap and warm water and scrub well. The volume of water and mechanical scrubbing is more important than soap in flushing bacteria and other food particles off the board. After washing the cutting board, dry immediately with a towel and let it air dry standing up or on a raised rack with air flow.
By NO Means. . .
Do Not put the wood boards in the dishwasher. The heat and water will warp and splinter the wood and VOID Warranties from most manufacturers. Only plastic, composite or glass boards can go into the dishwasher.
Do Not dunk or let the board in stand in water. The wood will absorb water and potentially warp.
Do Not use Bleach. This will stain the wood and/or excessively dry the wood.
Do Not put a wet board flat to dry. If the board dries only on one side, the wood will warp.
If your board has stains or smells, you can use lemon juice or white vinegar directly on the area. The acid in these liquids will neutralize the organic material or fats causing the problem.
How to Apply Cutting Board Oil and Board Cream
Once your cutting board is thoroughly dry, apply the oil directly onto the surface of the board. Be generous with the application, especially if the wood is dry or you just purchased the cutting board or butcher block. You want the surface to be dripping wet on all sides and we recommend using a small bar towel or new paint brush to spread the oil (try not to soak up the oil), as using your hands may lead to accidental splinters. Most importantly, let the oil soak into the cutting board for as long as possible; at least a few hours or overnight if possible. Let your cutting board sit on a wire rack or upright to dry when done. If you are restoring or seasoning an old, dry or new cutting board, you may wish to repeat this process two more times, to ensure your cutting board is completely seasoned.
To apply board cream, wait until the board is dry after washing or oiling, then apply a small amount of cream onto the board. Using a soft cloth, buff the cream/wax into the wood in a circular pattern, forming a thin coat. Repeat over the entire surface of the board and especially the sides. It's not necessary to let the wax soak into the board. Cuttingboard.com recommends you oil your cutting board every month or when dry to the touch. Board cream should be applied at the same time as oiling. And for the record if you purchase a John Boos Cutting Board or Chopping Block, your warranty will be Void if they are not properly maintained or oiled each month.
Why Use Cutting Board Oils and Board Creams?
The goal of board oil is to penetrate the wood and saturate the wood fibers, in order to stop any other liquids (blood, bacteria) and moisture from soaking into the board. As well, a well-oiled cutting board will keep the same shape when the wood fibers are saturated, so it will not expand and shrink compared to a board that is left to completely dry, then exposed to water. This shrinking and expanding effect is the main cause of warped cutting boards.
Here is a picture of a "no maintenance" bamboo cutting board that has been oiled on one side and left dry on the other. In other words, all wood or even bamboo cutting boards need to be oiled periodically:
While board oil penetrates the wood, board cream/wax acts as a physical barrier on the surface of the wood that protects against stains and liquids. The wax also aids in sanitation, as it fills and seals in knife scars and microscopic cracks where bacteria would otherwise gather. Used in conjunction, cutting board oil & cream provide an effective combination of protective outer layer & sealed wood that is sanitary, easier to clean & won’t warp.
CuttingBoard.com recommends only the use of food grade substances for use on our cutting board, as it will be in contact with food. All of the cutting board oils and creams they carry on their site are appropriate for food contact.
These products include:
Food Grade Mineral Oil: Boos Mystery Oil, Howard’s Butcher Block Oil >
Beeswax Based Creams: Boos Board Cream, Howard’s Butcher Block Conditioner >
Specialty Coconut Oil: Caron and Doucet Vegan Cutting Board Oil >
Please note that cuttingboard.com does not recommend natural oils such as vegetable, corn, olive, peanut or walnut oil, as these are rich in fats that will eventually oxidize and go rancid, creating a foul smelling board. Also, never use standard mineral oil from a hardware store that is not rated as food safe, as that is meant for machine lubrication and not for contact with food.
It is not worth jeopardizing your health for a few dollars!
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