Wooden cutting boards and utensils are a great addition to any kitchen. They look great, and they can last a long time if taken care of properly. The trick to getting a long, productive life out of your butcher blocks, wooden utensils or salad bowls lies in oiling them! Using an oil-based product regularly will help your board seal out moisture, keeping out liquid from the foods they come into contact with.
Oiling should be done monthly. Combined with other good wood-care habits, it will keep your board looking great for years. Along with oiling, it's important to know never to soak your board directly in water or put it in the dishwasher. A lot of direct contact with water will saturate the board/utensil and cause it to dry unevenly, warping the wood. No amount of oiling will fix cracked wood!
There are many different products available for oiling your wooden products. Here are three that we carry at The Chopping Block, all with different base oil-types. Remember, not just any oil will do. You don’t want to use a cooking oil for this process, as these will go rancid after awhile. Only a highly refined oil will work for your wooden products.
1. Mineral Oil
Mineral oil is the most basic product for oiling your cutting boards or utensils, and it’s 100% food safe, odorless and flavorless. It’s no frills, but it’s also very affordable. With a pretty thin consistency, a little bottle of mineral oil will go a long way and last you for quite a long time.
When oiling with mineral oil, apply a thin layer to the entire clean, dry board or utensil and allow the product to soak in overnight. If you don’t have that much time, a few hours will do. After it soaks in, wipe away any excess oil from the surface and it’s ready to use!
2. Wood Moisturizing Crème
This moisturizing crème is a little more deluxe than simple mineral oil, but it’s definitely worth the extra cost. Made of a mixture of mineral oil and food grade beeswax, it has a lot more texture and a little bit of fragrance, found naturally in the beeswax. At The Chopping Block, we use regular mineral oil on our butcher blocks every week, and then apply this moisturizing crème every several months as an added protective measure. So it’s good to have both in rotation!
As with the simple mineral oil, apply the moisturizing crème directly to your clean, dry wooden surface and let it dry overnight, wiping away any excess the next morning. This product has a much thicker consistency than the mineral oil, so you will need to use a little bit more to create a consistent layer over the whole product.
3. Coconut Cutting Board Conditioner
This product is brand new to our retail floor, and I’m really excited that we have it. Like coconut cooking oil, it’s very highly refined, so there’s no coconut odor. I mentioned earlier that you shouldn’t use cooking oil on cutting boards (like an olive oil or canola oil), but this coconut conditioner is refined using a special process that keeps it from going rancid.
Application is similar to the wood crème, but the consistency of coconut oil will be a little thicker. Just apply a thin layer over your board or utensil, then let it rest over night. Wipe away the excess oil when it’s done drying and it’s ready to use!
Now that you’re familiar with a few products for oiling and the basic techniques, try it out! Your boards, bowls and utensils will look better and last longer, and you’ll get much more out of your investment.
Learn more about different types of cutting boards and the knives we use on them in an upcoming Knife Skills class. We offer this class many times at both of our locations, so peruse our class calendar for the best fit for your schedule. This time of year is perfect for improving your efficiency in the kitchen!