A cutting board is one of the most useful tools that you should have in your kitchen, but as with most wooden items, you’re going to have to take the time to maintain them over the years. This is especially true if you’re one of the lucky people who has inherited a family-owned cutting board crafted from natural wood because they are likely to splinter and warp over time without the right amount of care.
Learning how to oil a cutting board is simple, and although it’s another step to add to your cleanup process, it will protect your investment and give you more years of use.
What Oils Can I Use with a Cutting Board?
Before we get into the steps for maintaining a cutting board, it’s first important to figure out what type of oils you should use for the process. Most people recommend that you use food-grade mineral oil, though there are a couple of other options that you might already have in your kitchen and there are certain oils you should avoid.
Mineral oil is a very useful ingredient to have when you own wooden kitchen accessories as it is non-drying, non-toxic, flavorless, and odorless. It also has plenty of properties that your wood cutting board will need, such as preventing the absorption of water and preventing a dry and brittle board. These are the most common reasons for warping.
However, not any mineral oil will do. For this, you’re going to need to find an FDA-approved food-grade mineral oil as many types aren’t recommended for human consumption.
As another natural ingredient that is safe for human consumption, beeswax is a great alternative to mineral oil, and it will help to make your cutting board look clean and fresh. Extracted directly from beehives, beeswax gives you the ability to completely waterproof your cutting board, and it also adds an extra layer of shine and hydration.
Coconut oil has increased in popularity over the years, and it can be quite beneficial for your wooden cutting boards, as long as you choose the right type. Regular coconut oil is prone to rotting.
However, if you’re able to fine re-fractionated coconut oil, this means that all of the fats have been removed, which offers a pure oil that doesn’t go rancid.
How to Oil a Cutting Board
Now that you have an idea of the best items to use to your advantage when learning how to oil a cutting board, it’s time to go through the incredibly easy steps.
Step 1: Clean the Wood
First, you’re going to need to make sure that you clean your cutting board, even if it’s brand new. You can use your regular dish soap, though many people prefer to use a mixture of coarse salt and lemon for natural disinfecting that will also add a beautiful smell to the wood.
Once you have wiped away any dirt and debris, you can then allow the wood to dry thoroughly before moving onto the next step.
Step 2: Apply the Oil
It’s now time to grab your favorite soft cloth and the oil of your choice. Alternatively, you can also use a paper towel if that is more accessible.
Spread an even layer of oil across the cutting board and use your cloth or paper towel to massage it into the wood. Make sure you don’t wipe the oil away as you’re going to want to let it soak into the cutting board.
We recommend letting the oil soak into the wood for at least 12 hours, but if you’re pressed for time, a couple of hours should suffice.
Step 3: Remove the Excess Oil
Once you’re sure that the wood has had at least a couple of hours to soak in the oil, use a clean cloth or paper towel to buff away the extra oil that is sitting on top. You’ll want to make sure that you buff enough to where you don’t feel a sticky or wet residue on the board.
Step 4: Repeat Weekly
The next step is to determine how often you should maintain it. This will depend on the amount of use the cutting board gets. If you use your cutting board daily, you should rehydrate with oil at least once a week.
Then again, it’s easy to tell when the wood might need a little bit of hydration. As soon as your cutting board seems dry and has lost a little bit of its natural color, it’s time to oil its surface.
Similar to how you would need to season a new barbecue or cast iron pot, it’s important that you take steps to maintain your wooden kitchen accessories, such as cutting boards.
While learning how to maintain a cutting board is far less strenuous than seasoning pots, it’s equally as important and will help to protect your investment for years, even if you use it every day.