Wooden Cutting Board Care Instructions
How a Wooden Cutting Board is Made
The finest wooden cutting boards are made from North American hardwoods—sugar maple, black cherry, white ash, red oak, and black walnut are all commonly used. In former times, a cutting board might be 1 1/2” in thickness, cut from a single timber. In recent years, cutting boards tend to be thinner and more intentionally designed. The use of two or three species of wood with opposing colors and in a variety of shapes has transformed the cutting board from an ordinary object to be left in the kitchen to a piece of fine art to be used in the living room and dining room. To accomplish this result, the woodworker uses one of a number of water-resistant glues that are available on the market today. Water-proof glues are available, but these often leave thick, sometimes dark, seams that are fine for boatbuilders, but not for cabinetmakers.
Routine Care of Wooden Cutting Boards
It is important to remember that most, if not all, wooden cutting boards are made with water-resistant glue, not water-proof glue. After every use, wash your cutting board with hot water and a sponge, with soap or a liquid dish detergent, but not with a product intended for the dishwasher. Place the cutting board on edge in a dish drainer or hand dry with a dish towel. Never leave a wooden cutting board soaking unattended in a sink or dish pan. Never put a wooden cutting board in a dishwasher. If you do, the surface of the board will become rough and the glue joints WILL eventually fail.
If you use a board often and it begins to look dry or dull, apply a generous coat of a food-safe mineral oil finish. Wait a few minutes and wipe off every trace. The idea is to protect the wood, but not allow the oil to build up. Don’t use vegetable oil or olive oil; they get sticky and go rancid after a while. There is no “rule of thumb” on how often you should refresh the finish, but certainly at least 2-3 times each year.
Restoring the Original Finish to Wooden Cutting Boards
With routine washing, wooden cutting boards will last indefinitely. If, after a few years of use, you notice stains or excessive cut marks, you can easily restore the original finish. You’ll need three grits of garnet sand paper (100, 180, and 240 grit) and a sanding block. Sand the cutting board evenly and thoroughly, using the rough sand paper first, then medium, then fine. When the surface is restored and smooth, apply a generous coat of a food-safe mineral oil finish as described above.
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