So we’ve received a lot of questions about the care and maintenance of charcuterie and cutting boards and we decided it was best to just do a page here about how to clean, preserve, and maintain your boards. Even though your board may look great now, over time, if not properly taken care of the wood can dry out, warp, and even split and crack. This doesn’t mean your board was not made well, wood is a natural material and it can’t be treated like many of the other objects in your kitchen, like glass, plastic, or ceramic. Prior to being made into anything wood is typically dried out, usually in a kiln, until it has a very low moisture content, this preserves the wood since damp wood rots. However, this also makes wood a bit like a sponge, it readily absorbs moisture on its surface or even just from the air, wood expands and contracts throughout the year as the humidity rises and falls with the seasons. To help prevent this wood is treated with an oil, lacquer, varnish, or some other finish. In the case of a cutting or charcuterie board food grade mineral oil is typically used to finish the wood. Several coats are usually applied to “seal” the wood, at Burning Oaks we actually soak all of our boards overnight to ensure that the board is well saturated. To make sure that your boards stay in pristine condition it is important to maintain that oil to prevent the wood from absorbing too much moisture or from drying out entirely. Here are some tips to help do this.
DO NOT SOAK YOUR BOARD! Your boards are not dishwasher safe nor are they intended to be dropped into a sink full of water. If you do this your board will warp, crack and split.
Clean your boards with a damp cloth, you can use a mild dish soap in your water, but use as little as possible. Since your board is treated with oil most things usually just wipe off of it, you should not have to scrub your board to clean it, so be sure not to let food dry out or crust up on the wood. Don’t use abrasive cleaners or scouring pads as these will damage the wood. If your board has been engraved it may catch crumbs or grease, just use a soft brush or toothbrush to gently scrub anything out of the engraving. Because engravings have a tendency to collect debris we typically recommend that the engraving be on the lower right corner of boards, if not on the underside, as opposed to right in the middle where this is most likely to be an issue.
It is not advised that you cut raw meat on a wooden cutting board, plastic is the preferred cutting board for raw meats. Juices from the meat have a tendency to soak in the wood and be just about impossible to remove, this causes a risk of cross contamination or pathogens soaking into the wood. A wooden cutting board is intended to be used for vegetables and fruits. And after you have cut vegetables or fruits on your board, clean it as soon as possible as it’s best not to let juices dry onto the wood.
Occasionally apply food grade mineral oil to your board. Over time the oil in your board will be wiped away as you clean it and wipe it down and it will also dry out. Whenever your board starts to look dry wipe on some oil until it is saturated and won’t absorb any more, expect at that point that you’ll need to wipe it down a number of times as some will weep back out of the wood. DO NOT USE COOKING OIL ON YOUR BOARD. We recommend using food grade mineral oil which can be found online or in most kitchen or hardware stores. Cooking oil will spoil and become rancid, we’ve actually heard stories of people having to leave their board in the garage for 6 months until the smell went away. And also, we emphasize the use of a “food grade” oil, if this board will be coming into contact with food it is very important that you use a food grade oil.
Treat your board with a conditioner. Once your board is properly saturated with oil you can use a board conditioner to act as another protective layer. You can find many different board conditioners online or in most kitchen or hardware stores, we also sell our own Board Butter on our site. Our Board Butter is a blend of food grade mineral oil, organic food grade beeswax, and vitamin E. The Board Butter coats the outside of the board, fills in tiny pores, and helps to seal in and protect the oil barrier within your board. It also deepens the color of the wood and adds a satin finish.
Store your board lying down on a flat surface. Some people like to store their boards upright or leaning at an angle, especially if they have been engraved to better show them off. But wood can warp over time and so it’s best to keep them stored lying flat on their rubber feet to help prevent this from happening.
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