Lets face it, wood cutting boards are many chefs, or wannabe chefs like myself, favorite tool in the kitchen. If its not the board, then usually its a close second behind your set of knives that the wood cutting board is their lifesaver. When you are dropping a few "Benjamans" into a set of mid to high range kitchen knives (which easily could cost $500+) you're going to find that the wood cutting board is going to be your go-to tool in the kitchen. Just like your knives though, a regular routine of care and maintenance is crucial to making it last a lifetime.
One of the most important aspects of owning a wood cutting board is the amount of time you put into caring for your board. The average person just throws their board in the dishwasher or a sink full of water to let it soak (not cool!) and thinks little more than the routine wash, use, and repeat cycle. As you'll find out, this will cause all sorts of cracking, warping, and just general deterioration of your board in no time. If this is you, don't worry, I'm here to save your life! (well, your boards at least) Now, lets get down to brass tacks. Here is the best guide you'll find for the care and maintenance of your prized wooden cutting board, from start to finish.The first Step: Seasoning (Getting your board ready for the first use.)
The first thing you need to do when you get a cutting board is to prep your board to be used for that first meal. This is a bit of a process, but I promise that following these steps will be the beginning to a beautiful and long lasting relationship between you and your board. I can assure you too, that this is a relationship your significant other won't mind you having! Here's our favorite option for getting that board ready for the prime time.Mineral Oil
Don't waste your money on this step buying one of those "specially formulated" butcher block oils or the like. Go and get yourself a couple bottles of mineral oil from your local pharmacy. This step is for getting the oil to sink in as much as possible, keeping out any unwanted moisture. This is one of the most common and popular options for finishing your board, and is also an extremely easy finish to upkeep as opposed to using a varnish or polyurethane. Those finishes get pretty beat up. Mineral oil is easy to reapply every so often to keep your board in tip top shape. Here is the step by step process:
1. Scrub your board with a wet cloth and let dry. If this is not a new board, scrub with a mix of salt, vinegar, and lemon. This will disenfect and deodorize your cutting board and get you ready for step 2.
2. Warm the oil a bit. Dont need it too hot, just enough to liquify it a bit more so it will soak in nicely.
3. Using a soft cloth, apply a generous coat of oil to your board. Make sure to leave a heavy coat sitting on the surface and let it soak in. Give the first layer roughly 6 hours to soak in if you have the time.
4. We are going to want to repeat this process 4 times if possible. If you are strapped for time, I'd suggest a minimum of 4 coats with 20 minutes between and when you have more time, get one good coat on after you are done using it for that day.
5. After you have your final coat on, wipe down any excess oil from the board thats sitting on the surface. When your board is fully saturated, you should have at least some sitting on the surface.
Now, you are ready to get using your new board! Remember, if you have time to, this process ideally would be done monthly. If you are the on the go type, or just plain forget everything like myself and go a couple months without this exact procedure, don't sweat it! If you are caring and maintaining your board weekly, you should be just fine! Read more about this below.The Second Step: Re-seasoning
This is absolutely crucial to making a cutting board last a lifetime. Just like your car sitting in your driveway, if you don't maintain your board, it will fall apart! Now, this doesn't have to be difficult. There is one awesome way to do this, and one "mehhh" way about it. This should be done on a weekly basisThe Awesome Way: Wudzee's Legendary Board Butta'
This is hands down the best finish we've created, and we do a lot of tweaking! Follow the steps below to make yourself the best cutting board finish you will ever get your hands on. It should be applied once a week for the best results, and it will keep your board ready to use for years. This finish has mineral oil as a base, but also includes Beeswax and Carnauba Wax. Beeswax will sink fairly deep to repel water and any "juices" you don't want on your board, and the Carnauba will do pretty much the same, but hardens toward the surface, creating a protective shell.
To read more about this finish, and to learn how to make it, check out our blog post below.The "Mehhh" Way:
This is fairly simple, so we wont over-complicate things. Just apply a coat of mineral oil weekly, simple as that. This isn't a bad alternative, but I've found that this doesn't keep your boards in nearly as good of shape and will tend to wear off quickly as opposed to using something like Wudzee's Legendary Board Butta (sometimes after only a couple uses)
Either route you choose, stick to it! This will keep that board of yours in great shape, and will be key to having one you can pass down one day to those kids of yours that are always ruining stuff. Hopefully they will take it easy on this one at least!Maintenence
Even more maintenence?! Yep, theres more, but we promise it isn't quite as complicated as it sounds!Sanding
Over time, all that chopping will cause some cuts and gouges to appear, and some staining as well. Don't worry though, there's a solution. As needed, take a sanding block and some 120 grit sandpaper and give your board a good sanding! this will take out any of those cuts and stains you want to get rid of. I'd definitely use a block though, to prevent making low spots and an uneven surface. As standard procedure, always sand in the direction of the grain so you dont scratch the board all up either!Cleaning
There are many ways to do this, bt we will try to make this part simple.For Smells and Odors:
Scrub your board with coarse salt and lemon. This will get out any fishy or other nasty odors. Then follow up with sanitizing step.Sanatizing
: Wipe down with white vinegar after each use. This will disinfect your board of any food borne bacteria (salmonella and e-coli etc.) and will not over dry your board like bleach for example. If you keep a spray bottle with vinegar and spray down and wipe each time, you'll be good as gold!Remember
to never submerse your board, or soak it in water in any way, shape, or form! You'll cause your board to warp, crack, and do all kinds of funky stuff you don't want it to do. Bad news.
There you have it! These are all tried and true methods that, in our not so humble opinion, knock the socks off of any other method. Follow these steps and I can assure you that your board will serve you a lifetime of use, and you'll never have to replace that beauty of a board! Now, go ahead, go out and get a nice, well built board! Equipped with this knowledge, you've earned the right to graduate up to the big leagues of cutting board ownership.