Clean and Oil Your Wooden Chopping Board
I’ve used plastic and wooden chopping boards and the latter lasts longer. Without maintenance, my 4-year bamboo board is still looking better than my 1-year plastic board. In fact, I read that if I maintain my bamboo board well, I can use it for 10 years!
Hence, I am now preparing a new bamboo chopping board, using the steps below, to replace the plastic one. These steps are also used for monthly maintenance.
1. Clean a Wooden Chopping Board
A non-toxic way to clean the wooden surface is to use lemon and sea salt. These ingredients thoroughly clean the surface, even if raw meat was used on it.
Lemon is a great disinfectant that removes any smell or bacteria that wasn’t removed with simple washing of water.
- Place a teaspoon of salt directly onto a cutting board.
- Use half a lemon to spread and scrub the salt on every inch of the board. (Or if you use a tablespoon of lemon juice on the salt, use a clean wash cloth to spread it.)
- Wash off all the salt and lemon with warm water.
- Using a clean cloth, dry the board as much as possible. Then let it stand to air dry.
- Wait until it’s completely dry before the next step – oiling the board.
2. Oil Your Wooden Chopping Board
What You Need
Preserve wooden chopping board by oiling it. This process will prevent your board from drying out and cracking. The oil used should be of food grade and not prone to rancidity.
rancid /ˈransɪd/ (of foods containing fat or oil) smelling or tasting unpleasant as a result of being old and stale.
Mineral oil, derived from petroleum, is inexpensive and a popular choice. In Singapore, you can get it from IKEA for S$5.90. Otherwise, you might want to buy oils designed for wooden boards at hardware or kitchenware shops.
For a natural choice, coconut oil is preferred. Some say that (melted) coconut oil causes a rancid reaction and so use fractionated coconut oil instead. But some still stand by coconut oil. In any case, I only had fractionated coconut oil on hand, so I used that.
AVOID vegetable oils such as olive, corn, and canola oil. These are rich in fats and will oxidize and go rancid, causing your board to smell bad.
Steps to Oil / Treat Wood Chopping Boards
- After cleaning with lemon and salt, wait for the board to be completely dry.
- Take a teaspoon of oil and pour directly onto the board, or onto a clean paper towel.
- Gently spread it, rubbing in the direction of the grain.
- Apply 3-4 coats and let dry for 6 hours. Make sure to get all parts of the board. This includes the back of the board, even though you might not use that part often or ever.
- Let it stand and dry completely before storing.
If you are restoring an old board, or seasoning a new one like me, you may want to repeat this oiling process two more times, to ensure your cutting board is completely seasoned.
3. Maintenance of Wooden Chopping Boards
Dos and Dont’s
Ideally, wooden boards should be washed with hot and soapy water after every use. Pat them dry as much as possible with a dish cloth , and then let it air dry.
Wooden chopping boards should not be put in the dishwasher nor left to soak in water. This will cause them to absorb water and potentially warp and splinter the wood.
Do not use bleach as it will stain and/or excessively dry the wood.
How Often to Maintain?
Repeat Step 1 and 2 every month to keep the board looking nice. Do it more often if you use the board frequently. Or more than once a month if you seldom use it.
You know it’s time when the wood is starting to look dry.
Enjoy your beautiful wooden chopping board!