In this post we’ll try and do chopping board maintenance 101 for you. This is everything you need to know about looking after your wooden chopping board. We’ll take you through general cleaning, stubborn stains, and oiling and maintenance one at a time. So here’s the bottom line. The better care you take of your board, the longer it will last. Simple.
The chopping, cleaning and drying cycle will take it’s toll on any chopping board. A regular regime of oiling will counteract the effects and prolong it’s useful life.
Firstly, brush off any loose food and get it in the bin. Next take a light scouring pad or a brush and rub lightly with warm soapy water. Then use a damp sponge or cloth to soak up any residual water on the board. Couldn’t be easier right? The key to doing this effectively is how you dry the board. If your board has feet then just place it on the counter top like normal. If not either place it in a rack to dry like a plate or if you have the room dry the board standing upright on its edge. Never place a board without feet board face down on a counter and allow it to dry. This is a sure fire way to warp a wooden board. You can read more about this in our blog on fixing the problem.
For a deeper clean you can apply a little washing up liquid to the pad and agitate it on the board until a good foam is formed. After this, scrub it with some coarse rock salt and half a lemon. This will get rid of most stains and any odours left on the board. Lastly, use a damp sponge or cloth to soak up any residual water on the board and follow the drying instructions above.
Oiling and Maintenance.
Having left your board to air dry until completely dry and free of any water or dampness go ahead and apply your care products generously. Application whilst the wood is still damp will lock the moisture in the board and this should be avoided. Firstly, just pour a tablespoon amount of mineral oil on your board and rub this in with your hand until the whole board is coated. Allow it to be absorbed and repeat if it is all absorbed very quickly. Do this on both sides. After it has all absorbed, using a lint free cloth, apply enough of the board butter to smear over the top surface and sides of the board. Rub this in gently, working the board butter in to the wood, and leave until fully absorbed. If your board has rubber feet use them otherwise stand the board flat side down but with something underneath to allow air to circulate. You can use almost anything for this such as a few cans, some coins or a drying rack. Leave for a few hours to dry but overnight is better. When the board butter is fully absorbed or the board is unable to absorb any more, buff to a soft sheen with a dry cloth and start chopping. In normal use this should only be necessary once per fortnight.
It is hard to ‘over oil’ or ‘over butter’ so be generous. If there is oil or butter on the surface after an hour that is not being absorbed then your board is full up!, and that’s no bad thing. Just wipe of the residue. In between cycles a little touch up here and there on any dry bits is all you should need.
If cared for properly your board should last a very long time indeed. To help you, here are our top tips…
- wipe with a damp cloth.
- wash using warm soapy water.
- occasionally rub with a light oil. We highly recommend our own board butter. Food grade mineral oil may also be used. (Linseed oil and walnut oil can be used with caution, but never use olive oil).
- scrub with a lemon and coarse salt to remove any stubborn food odours.
- clean with bleach or abrasive chemicals.
- treat with alcohol.
- condition with standard vegetable based oils such as corn oil, vegetable oil, sesame oil or olive oil.
- leave standing in water.
- use in a dishwasher.
- subject to extremes of temperature.
Chopping board care and maintenance is an important part of owning a wooden chopping board that should not be overlooked if you want your board to look good and last a long time. So here’s what we recommend you use on it.
Recommended for Chopping Board Care
1. WCBC Board Butter
Board Butter is our number one choice for chopping board care. (Well it would be wouldn’t it – but I do mean it). It is our very own blend of mineral oil, beeswax and carnauba wax. These ingredients when blended together in the right ratio provide oil to nourish, and wax to seal and waterproof the chopping board. We recommend it as an essential part of your board care and maintenance routine. Scoop it out of the tub and apply with a lint free cloth. Used regularly and generously it will keep the board from drying out and will help prevent splitting and cracking. The addition of Carnauba wax gives your board a nice shine and increases its resistance to water penetration. You’ll find this type of wax in many other polishes and cosmetics. We also make this in a vegan version that replaces the beeswax with soy wax.
2. Mineral Oil
Mineral Oil is often the de facto choice for treating and conditioning a chopping board and for good reason. It is considered non-toxic and being low viscosity will soak deep in to the wood to protect it. As you might expect it is colourless, odourless, and flavourless. Highly refined mineral oils is a ‘light’ oil and if it is the only product used to condition a board it may well need frequent application as it is easily washed off.
The term mineral oil is often mis-used and in common everyday usage should not be considered an accurate technical term, so please make sure that you buy the right type of oil. Look for the terms ‘food safe’, ‘food grade’ or ‘white mineral oil’ which are the usually most highly refined versions. If you are unsure ask your supplier. Types of mineral oil can also be bought over the counter at many chemists as a laxative for oral consumption! The mineral oil that we use on our chopping boards meets the US Federal Drug Administration FDA 172.878 Natural Oil codex standard and The British Pharmacopia USP 178.3620(a) reference standard. It is a popular choice for chopping board care and the conditioning of many types of wooden cooking utensil. Used regularly it will help prevent cracking and splitting by lessening the impact of regular washing and drying.
3. Fractionated Coconut Oil
Coconut oils are the new kid on the block, especially in the cosmetics industry due its perceived benefits for skin health. However, all other vegetable and nut oils eventually turn rancid. This rancidity impacts a very unpleasant and bitter taste to food that comes in contact with it. Without getting too technical, fractionation (which sounds scary) or steam distillation (which sounds a lot more normal) is a process that separates out the different forms of fatty acid. The remaining super refined oil is widely used in cosmetics, is useful as a solvent for vitmains, and importantly does not turn rancid.
Whilst fractionated coconut oil is well tolerated by most people, it may cause digestive problems in some cases, as well as adverse symptoms in people allergic to coconut products. It is a good alternative to mineral oil if you would prefer to use a plant based product, and is of course naturally vegan. Despite the name coconut is not actually a nut but rather a seed. People with nut allergies of any type should still exercise caution when using coconut based products. Anaphylaxis UK have a more in depth article on the subject of coconut allergies.
Not Recommended for Chopping Board Care
We don’t recommend any of the following for use on a chopping board, and we don’t use any of the products listed below on our own boards.
4. Vegetable oils
In this category we include corn oil, rice bran oil, olive oil and any other mixed or generic vegetable oils. All of these oils eventually turn rancid which generally takes three forms or ‘pathways’. These are are hydrolytic, oxidative and microbial. In more common terms, as a result of contact with water air and bacteria. So, lets face it, no matter how careful you are, your chopping board is going to come in to contact with one of these. This rancidity gives off an unpleasant rank odour and imparts a bitter taste to food that comes in contact with it. Sadly the less processed an oil the greater the likelihood of the oil turning rancid. Pure nut oils are expensive, especially the organic ones and should be used for their intended culinary purpose rather than your chopping board.
5. Nut Oils and Seed Oils
In this category we include all nut and seed oils. The most common of which are walnut oil, tung oil, almond oil, linseed oil, rapeseed oil avocado oil, palm oil, sunflower oil and groundnut oil. All of these oils eventually turn rancid but have a longer shelf life in comparison to other vegetable oils. Sufferers from nut allergies need to use with caution. In particular we do not recommend nut oils for use on boards in commercial kitchens due to the risk of allergic reactions in customers.
6. Anything weird
Varnish, shellac, furniture polish, industrial finishes and paint should all be avoided. But, you knew that already didn’t you.
Finally, regular cleaning and maintenance of your chopping board will make it look better and last longer. Keep it up, happy chopping.