If you are interested in having a long-term relationship with your wooden cutting board, it is possible. But like with any serious relationship, this one requires an investment of time. Some cooks prefer plastic cutting boards, but many consider them only a short-term romance. Plastic isn't lovely to begin with and quickly picks up stains. Wood, on the other hand, gets more attractive over time as long as you put in the care that it requires, including using cutting board oil.
Wood Cutting Board Care
If you are one of those people who love lavishing attention on your favorite kitchen tools, you'll want a wooden cutting board. Those cooks who want to only have to think about kitchen tool upkeep once a month or so will also do well with a wood board. Although cutting boards made of wood do require regular seasoning with oil, wood cutting board care isn't something you have to do every day or every week. Once a month is probably enough.
Keeping Cutting Board Clean
You need to scrub down your wooden cutting board whenever you use it, just like you do a dinner plate. Use hot, soapy water on a scrub brush or sponge but don't soak the board in a sink of water. That will inevitably lead to cracks in the wood or warping. If you are a vegetarian, a soap-and-water rinse is likely enough. If you use the board for cutting raw meat, you might want to use a weak bleach or hydrogen peroxide solution to prevent any kind of bacteria from contaminating the board.
Cutting Board Oil
Applying oil to wooden cutting boards prevents them from drying out. Cutting board oil also makes the boards more attractive by maintaining the surfaces. This only needs to be done infrequently. You can probably get away with a twice-a-year oiling, although many cooks like to schedule it in once a month.
Obviously, you can't just use any type of oil for your board. It has to be nontoxic and food grade and a type of oil that doesn't go rancid. A common choice is to use mineral oil for wooden cutting boards. It's not very costly and quite easy to find in kitchen supply stores. But you can blend beeswax into the mineral oil or use different cutting board creams offered in commerce. You can also find the brand-name creams at kitchen supply stores.
Clean the board very thoroughly before you oil. Some experts recommend scrubbing it down with lemon and salt. Then, let it dry before applying oil. Brush it on generously and leave it to soak in. You can even leave it overnight before wiping off excess oil.
From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. A professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler has written about home and garden for Gardening Know How, San Francisco Chronicle, Gardening Guide and Go Banking Rates. She earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.