Cutting boards are the true workhorses of the kitchen. You use them again and again, often multiple times per day, slicing into them with sharp knives and expecting them to take the beating! While there are cheap cutting boards that will last a few months before becoming too worn and damaged, you're better off investing in one high-quality board which will last years if properly cared for. How do you care for it? Here's a look.
1. Wash It With Hot, Soapy Water
After you use the cutting board, wipe it down with a solution of dish soap and water. Make sure the solution is sufficiently soapy so that you're removing all pieces of food debris and grease from the board. Then, wipe the board clean with a sponge or rag dipped in plain, clear water. You don't want to immerse the board in a tub of soapy water or wash it in the dishwasher as this may cause the wood to absorb too much water, which could cause the board to warp and bow.
2. Dry It Completely
After you are done washing the cutting board, use an absorbent towel to thoroughly dry it, then set it on a rack to dry. Do not set it immediately on a flat surface, as water will get trapped against the underside of the board. This can not only warp the board but cause the glue holding the various pieces of wood together to dissolve.
3. Condition the Board
Purchase a specialized cutting board oil. Ones made with beeswax are generally a good choice. About once a month, treat the board by rubbing it with the board oil. Apply a squirt of oil to the surface, and rub it in with a soft cloth. Let the board sit for about an hour, and then wipe off any excess oil. This conditioning will help keep the board from cracking, and it will also prevent moisture in the food from penetrating the board. Never use vegetable oils in place of a real board conditioner; they go rancid too quickly and may ultimately cause your board to rot. Contact a company like Walrus Oil to learn more about cutting board oil.
4. Have the Board Sanded Down
Knife marks will accumulate over time as you use your board; this is normal. To get rid of them, you can sand down the surface of the cutting board. Use coarse grit sandpaper followed by finer grit sandpaper. Finish the board with a coat of conditioner to seal it all off. Most people find that they need to sand their cutting boards down about once a year, assuming they use the board regularly.