Whether you’ve received your wooden cutting board as a gift or treated yourself, you want to take the necessary steps to protect your investment. Here are our best tips for protecting and caring for wooden cutting boards.
So why wooden cutting boards over plastic, glass, marble or ceramic? I admit that I find marble and ceramic cutting boards aesthetically very pleasing – in fact, I own two or three of them for serving desserts and cheese plates. The neutral tones and gentle blueish-grey grain make food pop and look more appetising. But I would never use these to prepare my food.
Marble, ceramic and glass cutting boards can do extensive damage to your knives by dulling and chipping the blades. Dull knives are far more dangerous than sharp knives because they require more force to use than a sharp knife. More force = accidents.
Dull knives happen for two main reasons:
One – When the edge of the blade becomes bent or rolled to one side caused by physical pressure to the edge of the blade, such as when it is used on a chopping material with little to no give.
Two – When the edge of the blade becomes rounded from friction, tearing or abrasion (usual wear and tear), such as when the knife is used on a material that is too hard and resists scoring. This will cause the edge to round from the increased abrasion on the knife.
Marble, ceramic and glass are too hard of materials to protect knife blades from rolling or rounding, resulting in a dull blade and danger to your fingers. And don’t ever drop them on a tiled floor, or you can say buh-bye to your pretty board.
While plastic boards generally have more give to them, they are a nuisance on the environment, suck up stains and melt if brought too close to a gas hob or sometimes a dishwasher drying cycle (yes, it’s happened; don’t judge). They should also be replaced every two years because they harbour bacteria more than any other material due to their porous nature. Ew.
Wood is the best choice. It is a material that has a natural give to protect your blade for longer and is exceptionally durable and nigh-on impossible to break. Plus, if you take proper care of it, it shouldn’t stain, crack or harbour oodles of bacteria.
Taking Care of Your Wooden Cutting Board
Once you’ve chosen your wooden board, it’s important that you take care of it. Regular maintenance can protect your board from cracking, warping, mould and naturally-occurring bacteria that can seep into the material and make you ill. Thankfully, this is rather easy to do and only requires about 30 minutes of your time once a month.
Every time you use the board
Make sure that when you’re finished with it for the day, you wash the cutting board with hot, soapy water. Do not submerge the board into a sink full of water though, as this will encourage cracking and warping. Scrub the board well and then leave it to dry on its side, propped up against the drying rack or a wall. Do not let it dry flat or directly on one side as this will cause water seepage and potential warping and mould.
Once a month
Give your wooden board the spa treatment. Everyone enjoys a little pampering, and your board works hard for you to eat fresh, delicious food every day, so it deserves it.
First, give your cutting board a salt and lemon scrub down. Grab a small handful of coarse sea salt and sprinkle it across the board, then use half a lemon to rub the salt around the surface of the board in little circles. You’re basically giving your board a good facial exfoliation treatment here. By sanding down the board slightly, you’re removing a very thin layer of the board that has become porous from use and may be harbouring bacteria. The lemon juice will also kill any bacteria and reduce any lingering food smells (like smelly onion or garlic).
Second, rinse your board off in the sink, giving it a little wipe down with a wet cloth, then leave it to dry completely (as above) before performing the next step.
Finally, treat your board with a little oil. If you own an iron pan, you’ll be very familiar with this technique. Essentially, the oil creates a thin barrier between the wood and your food, protecting the board and keeping your food from any bacteria. The oil also helps treat the wood, keeping it from drying out and cracking.
The best oil to use here is a non-vegetable oil. Olive, almond, canola, avocado and other types of vegetable or nut-based oils can become rancid very quickly if exposed to the air. Use a food-grade mineral oil or coconut oil. Personally, I use coconut oil as it has a more stable shelf life and is highly resistant to rancidity.
Condition your board by taking a teaspoon to half tablespoon sized amount of oil (depending on the size of your board) and rubbing it all over the board in circular motions, making sure to get every side, corner, nook and cranny. Much like you would rub moisturizer into your face. Allow the oil to dry for a couple of hours and then repeat this process a second time. Leave the board to dry overnight and resume using it as usual.
Although it may require a bit of maintenance once in a while, a wooden cutting board will keep you going right through to a ripe old age. And really, don’t the best things in life often need a little love?
Amanda Saxby hails from the frozen tundra of British Columbia, Canada, and now works as Digital Marketing Manager for BuyMeOnce in London. When she’s not analysing the latest Twitter trends or decoding the optimal time to post an Instagram, she can be found with a whisk in her hand baking up some tasty natural treats for her blog, Naturally Sweet Kitchen, and her colleagues. So far, no complaints.