If there is one item in your kitchen you can’t have enough of, it’s wooden cutting boards. While most people would choose a good knife as their go-to kitchen tool, what’s a knife without a high-quality cutting board? They serve as the primary surface for your kitchen and one of the first tools people pull out when beginning meal prep. They are necessary for not only keeping your countertop clean and germ-free, but for food prep, serving, and even creating the perfect charcuterie board. Another major plus? With proper care, they’ll last a really long time.
Wooden Vs. Plastic Cutting Boards
Wooden cutting boards are proven to be more hygienic than plastic, and are a lot easier on your knives over time. Usually made of softer woods such as acacia, walnut, or maple, they still stand up to the knife blade but won’t do as much damage to it over time. The boards themselves are also more resistant to grooves and indents from knife usage over time.
Plastic cutting boards easily indent, which create the perfect place for bacteria to grow. A scratched-up plastic cutting board allows for space for more bacteria, and is difficult to ensure that you’ve properly cleaned. Some people opt for plastic because they think that wood is more porous, absorbing bacteria over time. But studies have shown just the opposite. Overall, a wood cutting board is the best choice for your kitchen.
Washing and Disinfecting Your Cutting Board
There are several methods to properly cleaning your cutting board.
If you want to simply hand wash your board, all you’ll need is warm to hot water, a stiff cleaning brush or sponge, and an antibacterial dish soap. When you’re done using your cutting board, make sure you rinse any food debris off thoroughly before cleaning. Ideally, you’ll want to do this directly after use, so the food particles don’t have an opportunity to dry and adhere to the surface. Take your cleaning brush or sponge and a generous helping of soap and scour the board, loosening any stubborn food debris, rinse with warm water, and set to dry.
One great way to be absolutely certain no debris remains? Take coarse salt and rub it on the surface of the board after the initial rinse. This natural physical exfoliant will aid significantly in cleaning your board thoroughly, without damaging the wood.
Does your cutting board have stubborn stains on it from berries, beets, or other highly pigmented foods? Sprinkle baking soda on the surface of the board, let it sit for a few minutes, and then scrub and rinse. Your board will be stain-free and good as new.
Periodically disinfecting your board is important to make sure it stays sanitary. While it is not recommended to use the same board for meat prep and vegetable prep, disinfecting your board after prepping meat will help make sure there is a lower risk of transferring bad bacteria and food poisoning.
To disinfect your board, you will need 3% Hydrogen Peroxide and a clean sponge. Pour the hydrogen peroxide over the board and spread it using the clean sponge. Let it sit for a few minutes as it fizzes in order to kill germs. Rinse under hot tap water once the fizzing stops. Repeat on each side. If your cutting board is older with lots of grooves and indents, disinfect your board more regularly.
One important and often neglected step is to make sure your cutting board is completely dry after cleaning or disinfecting. This is a vital step in preventing bacteria growth. After washing, immediately dry off with a clean dish towel. Let the board air dry standing up or on a raised rack that has plenty of airflow. And no matter what you do, do not put your wooden cutting board in the dishwasher, as the heat and water will warp and splinter the wood.
How to Oil Your Cutting Board
Making sure to properly take care of your cutting board by oiling it will keep it cleaner and increase its longevity. The oil you select for your board should be a high-quality, food grade mineral oil that is not prone to becoming rancid. You can easily find bottles of mineral oil in most kitchen or home goods stores.
Before you oil your board, follow the above steps in this blog to ensure it is properly cleaned, disinfected, and dried. Apply the oil to your board with a paper towel and let it sit and soak for as long as possible, a minimum of 1 hour. You can even apply the mineral oil to your dried board before bed and wipe off the excess in the morning with a paper towel or clean dish cloth.
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