Most wood cutting boards and chopping blocks are made from solid hardwoods. Woods such as bamboo, birch, maple & teak are very popular for the construction of cutting boards. There are three different types of board construction: Flat-grain – this type is made by gluing boards with the grain side-by-side (like on dining room tables or other furniture). These boards expand side to FG BOARD side. They may get wider in the summer (if there’s moisture in the air) and shrink in the winter (when the heat from your furnace dries out the surface). Edge-grain – this type is made by gluing boards of the same width together face-to-face, so the surface has the edge of the boards showing. These boards expand up and down, like gym flooring or wooden truck beds. End-grain – this type starts off as flat grain panels that are cut across the wide grain to the desired thickness of the board and then glued face-to-face exposing the ends of the boards. This gives it a unique checkerboard look. It also makes a great cutting surface as the knife blade cuts into the end fibers which minimizes cut marks and splintering.
Whatever the construction, all need care in order to give you many years of use. The most important tips are: Keep your board clean. Don’t let it soak in water or put it in the dishwasher. Keep your board well-oiled/seasoned.
After each use, wash your wood cutting surface with a mild dish soap and hot water. Rinse well and dry with a cloth. Then let it air-dry completely (bacteria die when they aren’t kept moist). To sanitize the surface, you may want to wipe your cutting board with white vinegar after use. Vinegar works well against salmonella, E. coli and staphylococcus. You can apply it with a paper towel or, for ease of use, have a spray bottle filled with vinegar handy in your kitchen. ALWAYS CLEAN THE CUTTING BOARD SURFACE THOROUGHLY IF YOU’VE CUT UP FISH OR POULTRY.
When chopping garlic or onion and cutting fish, getting some food odors on your board is unavoidable. To remove these odors, you can rub your board with coarse salt, lemon, or baking soda. Let it stand on the board for a couple of minutes, then wipe off the surface. Rinse well and allow it to dry.
DO NOT soak your boards (or any other wooden utensils) in water or they’ll crack and warp! DO NOT place them in a dishwasher to clean them. Because of the way most cutting boards & butcher blocks are made (gluing pieces of wood together) doing this may cause your board to fall to pieces!
To prevent staining and to keep food odors and bacteria from developing on the surface, keep your board well-oiled. Use an oil that can be applied repeatedly, such as mineral oil. Mineral oil is clear, tasteless, odorless, safe around food and will fill the wood pores. Stay away from olive, fruit and vegetable oils, or animal fats, as these oils can go rancid over time. Be sure your board is clean and dry, then wipe the oil on your cutting board in an even layer using a clean, soft cloth or paper towel. Wait for it to soak into the wood (for at least a few hours or overnight works too! ). Add more oil if necessary if there are dry spots. Wipe/buff off any excess oil with a clean, dry cloth. When you first get your wood cutting board or butcher block, you may want to do this once a week for three weeks and then once a month for 3 months. From then on, once a month, or more often if you use your cutting board extensively, should do the trick. End-grain boards require more oil than the flat-grain or edge-grain boards as the oil goes deeper into the end-grain fibers. REMEMBER YOUR BOARD LOVES TO BE OILED!
After your board has been seasoned, you can also use a beeswax/oil mixture (1/2 tsp. of beeswax microwaved with 1 cup of mineral oil for 45 seconds applied to the board while it’s warm) every 6 months for a water-resistant surface. This protects the wood from wear and tear and gives it a longer life. (You can also rub a small block of hard beeswax at an angle across your board surface and edges & massage it into the board with your fingers. This basically water-proofs the surface).
To freshen up your cutting board, in between seasonings, slice a fresh lemon in half and rub it onto the surfaces of your cutting board.
Even with this care, Do not allow liquids to stand on your cutting board for extended periods of time. Wipe water, juice, brine and the juices from fresh meat off your board as soon as possible to prevent it from soaking into the wood, which can cause the cutting board to expand, the wood to soften, and the strength of the glued joints to deteriorate. Even using a good steel scraper or spatula will help keep the cutting surface clean and sanitary. Scraping the surface can remove 75% of the moisture.