Maintaining Wooden Cutting Boards

Using a really nice, well made, wooden board is a wonderful luxury in the kitchen. The feel of a really sharp knife sliding through your food and rolling onto hard, yet subtle wood is blissful. Using a large, weighty, thick board is one of the top tools you should invest in for your kitchen. There are a few things that you should do when buying and maintaining your board:

  1. When selecting your board: if you’re buying anything over 10″ x 8″ x 3/4″ I suggest you buy a laminated board (lots of pieces glued together). This will allow your board to move around and re-shape. 1 piece boards have a tendency not to go back flat if they misshape.
  2. Buy the largest board you can fit in your kitchen. More work surface the better. You can move everything you’re cutting into prep bowls but that’s a pain and takes up time. Buy a big board and do as much prep on the board as you can.
  3. NEVER, EVER, NEVER! Put wood in the dishwasher. This WILL ruin your board – without fail.
  4. Oil, oil, oil, and oil some more. A new board takes a lot of oil before it’s ‘broken in’. You can not over oil a new board and the consequences of under oiling can lead to delamination – which is when the wood splits at the joints. Once this happens it’s nearly impossible to repair. Delamination can happen, once in a blue moon, to a board that has been well maintained but mostly it’s from lack of proper care. Once a board is broken in, which is when the wood is very saturated, then you can back off and oil as the wood looks like it needs oil. Maybe after every 5th use.

How do you know if your board needs oil? Is it shinny? No, then oil, now! How do you oil? Here’s a step by step:

Step 1: Assessment. This piece of wood may look shinny to you, but it’s not. This is a matt finish and as you can see it looks like a used skating rink. This is the driest is should EVER get. If your board is yellowish and not deep brown then you are in a very bad place. Oiling is critical. At this stage, any water drying off the board could crack it.

Step 2: Oil. You can’t really use too much oil. Be liberal and get it all over!

Step 3: Using your hands, and not a rag, spread the oil all over the block

Step 4: Let dry. Once you have oiled both sides and the sides, let the oil soak in. I like to give my boards at least 6 hours each time so I leave them on their edge over night. in the morning take a paper towel and wipe off the excess.

We sell John Boos Boards that are made just outside of Chicago. We’ve found them to be the best bang for buck boards on the market and would sell a western made product if it existed, but it doesn’t. The boards are guaranteed to stand up to regular use if well maintained. We do get boards back that have cracked and 99/100 times it comes from poor maintenance. We can’t stress enough the importance of maintaining your board with the instructions above.

Need a visual step by step? Then watch this

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