How to Oil and Maintain Wooden Cutting Boards (and Spoons!)

I’ve heard a lot of people say that a really good chef’s knife is their favorite tool in the kitchen, but what good is a knife if you have nothing to cut on? And while having a great knife is definitely important and makes things so much easier, I’d say that having a great cutting board is right up there with it. The problem though, is that just like with knives, there seems to be an endless array of choices to choose from. Wood or plastic? Thick or thin? How hygienic are they?

You can see some of the wood looks a little grey, which means that it the wood is drying out too much.

The risotto spoon is definitely the worst – it recently took a little trip through the dishwasher by accident. I’m not naming names, but I only live with one other person so…

First thing’s first – wood or plastic? I personally think that most (if not all) plastic boards are pretty ugly. They get deep grooves, stain fairly easily, and they harbor more bacteria that wood. One of the nice things about plastic though, and I do happen to have one that I only use for meat, is that mine is dishwasher safe. The other thing is that it’s much lighter than my hefty wooden block, so that’s a plus too.

Wooden boards are usually heavier, thicker, and sooo much prettier. Since wood is naturally antibacterial, you don’t usually have to worry too much about bacteria growth, but you do need to make sure to wash it regularly. After washing, you need to hand dry with a towel, and then leave to air dry. The problem with wood is that if it stays wet for too long, it can crack, splinter, warp, or some combination of the three. If you’re spending good money on a nice cutting board, the last thing you want is to have it be jacked up.

After oiling, they should be all nice and shiny, and resemble what they looked like when they were brand new.

You still might have a few little patches that could be a little discolored, but that just means that they were very dry to begin with. Oiling regularly will help restore them back to their original glory

So take care of it! It only takes about five minutes a month and is incredibly easy, so it’s a no-brainer. All you need is a little food-grade mineral oil, some paper towels, and a kitchen towel. Easy peasy!

What You Need

  • Wooden cutting board, wooden spoons, or other wooden tools
  • Clean, soft cloth or paper towel
  • Clean kitchen towel
  • Mineral oil, with or without added beeswax

What To Do

  1. Clean the wood. Make sure that whatever you plan on oiling is very clean. I usually tend to give my board and spoons a good scrub down with half of a lemon and some coarse salt, followed by a rinse and then letting them dry thoroughly.
  2. Apply the oil. Using a soft cloth or paper towel, apply the oil in an even coat over the entire surface and on all sides.
  3. Let It Soak In. Let the oil soak in overnight if possible, or at least for a few hours.
  4. Remove Excess and Buff. Using a clean cloth or paper towel, wipe off the excess oil. Buff in any sticky or tacky parts with a paper towel in a circular motion until it doesn’t feel damp or sticky anymore.

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