You have just purchased a beautiful wood cutting board. You have heard that maintaining a wood cutting board is different from how you clean a glass one. Today, we are going to explore how to care for it, and specifically, what types of oils you may use for different situations.
Wood is porous, which means that even though it is hard to see, it absorbs water and other liquids you spill on it. A buildup of liquid in a wood cutting board has a number of consequences.
Wood that expands and contracts to accommodate moisture will warp or crack. Of course, any damp environment has the possibility of growing mold and other bacteria. Therefore, you need to treat the cutting board so that it does not absorb water. However, since anything you put on a cutting board may end up in your food, you must be careful about what you use to clean and maintain your cutting board. Here are some substances that are safe for use on a wood cutting board.
Mineral oil is an important ingredient in caring for a wood cutting board. It repels water, so it can prevent absorption. However, you need to be aware of what kind you buy as multiple substances can be labeled "mineral oil." The type you want is liquid paraffin. Also called food grade mineral oil, it is safe to digest. This odorless substance does not have a flavor. It is shelf stable and inert.
For best use, apply a generous amount of mineral oil to your cutting board with a damp cloth. In 2-4 hours, the wood will absorb the oil. Wipe off what is not absorbed with cloth or paper towels. Repeat monthly, or as often as needed when your board becomes dry.
Another tool for maintaining your wood cutting boards is fractionated coconut oil, which is the oil that is left after fat has been removed from regular coconut oil. This is different from the type of oil found in grocery stores. Because fat can become rancid, this type of oil is shelf stable and food safe. Like mineral oil, coconut oil fills the pores of wood and keeps it moisturized. When wood is properly moisturized, it will not absorb bacteria or crack.
To use coconut oil, spread a teaspoon on the surface of the cutting board and rub it in with your hand in line with the grain. Repeat three or four times, then let the cutting board dry for six hours. Do this monthly or when the board looks dry.
Beeswax also moisturizes and shines wood cutting boards. This natural substance is food safe and water resistant. Using beeswax regularly can keep your cutting board looking new. Because beeswax is a solid, it is harder for wood to absorb it. Combining it with an oil makes it easier to use and adds the oil's benefits. Adding it to mineral oil enhances its water resistance, while combining it with coconut oil seals in the hydration.
To treat your cutting board with beeswax, mix with another oil and warm it. If you use mineral oil, the mixture should be twice as much oil as beeswax. The coconut oil mixture needs four times the coconut oil as beeswax. Take two tablespoons of the mixture at a time and rub it into the cutting board along the grain. Let the cutting board stand for 4-6 hours and then wipe off the excess.
Lemon Juice and Baking Soda
The last two cleaning agents we are going to examine are not oils, have the same purpose and can be used together. They are lemon juice and baking soda. Both of them remove stains and odors from wood. To use, put a few drops of lemon juice (or oil) and/or baking soda and rub in with a warm, wet cloth or sponge. Rinse and dry the board. Lemon juice and oil can be added to other oils to keep your board smelling fresh while treating it in other ways.
What Not to Use on a Cutting Board
You should not use any type of cooking oil on your board, such as olive oil, vegetable oil, or regular coconut oil, because they will go rancid. Also keep in mind that excess moisture is bad for wood. Never soak your cutting board or let it sit in water for extended periods.
Properly Caring for Your Cutting Board
Keeping your board oiled will maintain it for many years. Although wood cutting boards require more care and effort, they are a functional and beautiful addition to your kitchen. They will keep your knives sharp and also make an attractive serving platter.
The Hardwood Lumber Company manufactures custom wood cutting boards in a variety of styles. We also have the supplies you need to keep your cutting board in optimal condition. Browse our website for the oils you need to keep your board in top shape.