A cutting board is mandatory in every kitchen, as is taking good care of it. While plastic ones are safe and cheap, and in fact easier to maintain, wooden and bamboo ones are preferred not only for their looks but because of their eco-friendly nature. These rich materials however, need good care and maintenance so that they last long and can serve you for a good time period. As such, here are some very simple methods that you can use to keep your cutting board looking as good as new.
Cutting Board Maintenance and Care
• First things first, your cutting board has to be hardy. That however, does not mean that you do not take good care of it. You have to give it due attention, as you would to any other kitchen item or appliance.
• Every so often, i.e. at least once a week, put a generous coat of food-grade mineral oil on both sides of the board, whether it is a bamboo or a wooden cutting board, and allow this oil to be absorbed into the board by placing it in an upright position. If there is any excess on the surface, wipe it off with a clean rag. This method protects the board from absorbing moisture, thereby keeping it longer lasting.
• Even if you do follow the aforementioned step, do not leave foods that release water on the board for too long, as eventually the board will absorb it. Similarly, do not place food that can stain easily, such as berries and lay on the board for too long. Rinse immediately after using the board to cut these foods.
• After every use, ensure that the board is cleaned. In the process of chopping, it is likely that the board also gets scratched and cut, and it is easy for food to get stuck in these crevices. As such, it is important that the board at least be rinsed with warm water if not soaped and cleaned thoroughly after each process.
• Both wood and bamboo boards are not dishwasher friendly, and should therefore, NEVER be placed in them. Doing so can cause permanent damage to the board.
• While cutting on the board, make sure that you use the entire board for cutting and not just one area of it. This is so that the board doesn't weaken only from one specific spot. Moreover, spreading the area of cutting also makes the board last longer as no one spot is continuously weakened rendering the entire board useless.
• Apart from spreading the entire work surface, also ensure that both sides of the board are used evenly.
• To remove stains from a wooden cutting board, sprinkle some salt on them and then rub the surface with a lemon wedge. Allow it to remain for about two to three minutes after which you may rinse off the surface. This will safely and effectively remove stains. Do not attempt to use any kind of bleaching agent on the surface.
• For regular cleaning, use a mild anti-bacterial soap (particularly if you use it to cut fish, poultry and other types of meat), and clean with a brush with soft bristles to clear out the surface of any food particles and keep it clean. Do not use abrasive cleaners to clean the board.
• Dry the board with a clean rag or an absorbent towel immediately after washing it, and keep it in a dry, moisture-free area.
• To clean specifically after cutting meat on it, use a spatula to scrape off the surface. This removes the odor and the moisture caused by the meat. Then use an absorbent paper towel to dry off the surface to remove any remaining odors and moisture. Another great remedy for odors is to put white vinegar or baking soda on the entire board surface after scraping, and allow it to sit for about thirty minutes before you rinse it. This method works extremely well to get rid of odors.
• Ensure that the board is kept dry when it is not being used. The moisture not only affects the board it also causes bacteria to thrive in it.
• Do not place any hot utensils on the board under any circumstance. The heat can cause the board to expand and split. Similarly, do not allow the board to dry out very often, and use mineral oil to maintain it regularly.
• Every once in a while, say every 2-3 weeks, before applying mineral oil on the board, use sandpaper to smoothen the surface of the board, and then follow the mineral oil procedure mentioned above. This evens out the surface and makes the board almost as good as new.
Now after following these simple tips, if you find that your board is beginning to soften or split, it is a better idea to replace it immediately as it becomes a thriving zone for bacteria and can prove harmful if it is still used. On the other hand, this situation will take a long time to arise if you do use the tips mentioned above. Good luck!