Keeping your cutting board or butcher block for the long-term is precisely what you desire from the very first day you purchase either of the two.
Maintaining a cutting board and butcher block does not have to be a difficult task. Instead, it should be a manageable process that will help you keep the board looking new and clean in every occasion you want to use it. Nevertheless, these tools are essential in the kitchen as they ensure easy slicing, dicing, and preparation of a variety of foods. For the above reason, you might be prompted to research about protecting, maintaining, and finishing your wooden surface from various sources. While the information varies from one source to the other, the basics you need to know to maintain the life of your cutting board and butcher blocks are described below.
Always remember to wash your cutting board or butcher block with warm water and soap after each use. Scrub the board efficiently to flush bacteria including food particles off the surface of the board. In case your board or block has undesirable smell or food stains, consider applying lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, or vinegar on the affected area. Lemon juice and vinegar contain an acid that neutralizes organic materials causing the bad odor or unwanted stain. Equally, hydrogen peroxide is extremely useful in combating common wood bugs and dangerous bacteria. However, make sure you use it sparingly since it can cause skin or respiratory irritations. After cleaning the board/block, dry it instantly with a towel and stand it to let air flow. Do not put it flat since only the upper side will dry which, might cause warping or cracking of the wood.
The following points are equally important when cleaning your board/ block:
- Bleaches are not safe, and should not be used to clean the board since they are likely to stain the wood or make It dry excessively. When considering to use bleaching agents, mix them with equal proportions of water, spray the solution on the board, wipe it with a clean piece of clean cloth, then rinse it off with warm water and allow to dry.
- Remember to remove the board out of water when you are not ready to wash it since the wood may absorb more than enough water that may make it warp.
- And never fully soak or submerge your cutting board in water
Apply drying oils instead of non-drying oils
Another necessity routine is to directly apply the drying oils onto the surface once the board is completely dry. Remember to be lenient with the process, more so if the board or butcher block is still new. If your primary goal is to apply both surfaces at a go, consider using a bristle brush or a rag to spread the oil; be cautious enough not to soak the oil up. Leave the board to dry overnight or some few hours. Drying oils are central to maintaining your cutting board or butcher block. The oils form a solid substance (polymer), which toughens the surface of your board, making it resistance to knife marks and effects of constant cleaning. Drying oils will not only stop liquids and moisture from soaking the board, but they will also prevent the board from shrinking or expanding, which is the primary cause of warped cutting boards.
Why say no to non-drying oils?
Non-drying oils will only saturate the fibers without hardening the surface of your board. Conversely, they can only be used when combined with wax that functions to seal the wood, thus, preventing, juices, water, or blood from seeping into your board or block. However, these effects may not be long-lasting since wax wears off with time, which will automatically let the oil to seep out with every wash.
Consider using initial Protection
Wooden high-density blocks such as maple or cherry are naturally resistant to marking. That means that they may not need finishes. Instead, applying initial protection and maintaining the board regularly will help you go a long way in preserving your block. Since maintaining your block or cutting board requires frequent cleaning with sanitizing products or water and soap, the wood is likely to dry faster, which might tarnish or make it wear off including cracking when excessively moist or dry. In that case, applying initial protection will hydrate the surface of your board, make it easier to clean, and maintain its original color. All that matters is your ability to sustain the life of your board or block whether you use finishes or initial protection.
Be cautious when applying board cream
While board creams are fundamental in maintaining your cutting board or butcher block, how you apply them matters a lot. To efficiently apply the cream, ensure that the board is dry after oiling or washing it. Make sure to apply a small amount of the cream on the board, use a soft cloth to buff the cream in a circular motion that will allow for the formation of a thin coat. Repeat the procedure over the entire surface of your board including the sides. For maximum result, apply the cream when you are oiling your board.
To what extent you value the life of your cutting board or butcher block is a matter of individual preference. With its friendly tone and shiny surface, a wood cutting board is more than what you need to complete your kitchen. Care for your board or block by cleaning it daily, regularly sanitizing and maintaining, as well as oiling it, and it will last for years.