Wooden Cutting Boards: A Lifetime of Service

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I confess.  It is one of my favorite tools in the kitchen.  Not only do I use it everyday, but it also has a permanent home on my countertop.  Even when I travel by car, I bring it along with me.  No, it is not a set of coveted knives, or a well-seasoned cast iron pan, what I am talking about is my wooden cutting board(s).

assorted wooden cutting boards

assorted wooden cutting boards

I grew up with a wooden cutting board in the house.  It was one of those that pulled out from the countertop and it was so sturdy, you could set a 20 lb. turkey on it and it wouldn’t even wobble.  Over the years, mom carved countless roasts, loins, chickens, hams, and assorted vegetables.  Running my hand over the surface, you could feel not only the age, but the use it had seen over the years.  Knife marks here and there, but nothing so deep that it couldn’t be sanded out.

Since that first cutting board, I have continued to expand my collection as my culinary skills grew.  The one thing they have in common?  They are all wooden.  Now why would I buy boards of the same material?  Let me explain.

Benefits of a Wooden Cutting Board

  • They are aesthetically pleasing.
  • They come in a variety of different shapes and sizes.
  • Knife cuts can be sanded out.
  • With proper care, they can last a lifetime.
  • Wooden cutting boards are easier on your knives compared to other materials.
  • Wood has natural anti-septic properties.

But in order to keep a treasured wooden cutting board for a lifetime, you must care for it.  One of my boards is over 35 years old and it is still going strong.  In order to keep my wooden cutting boards for life, here is what I have learned over the years.

Proper Wooden Cutting Board Care

  • Clean the cutting board after every use with towel and hot water (never place a wooden cutting board in a dishwasher).
  • Once a month, treat the cutting board with a food grade oil such as mineral oil (a well-oiled board is less likely to absorb liquid that could stain or warp the wood) or a mineral oil and beeswax combination.  Remember to oil both sides of the board.
  • Wipe liquids off the cutting board so they don’t have a chance to soak in.
  • Use sharp knives on the cutting board.
  • Sand out any deep cuts to prevent bacteria from finding a home.  After sanding, immediately oil the board.
  • Remove odors from your cutting board by rubbing with  course salt (such as kosher) then rinse.  You may also use fresh lemon juice to neutralize odors.  Just rub across the surface and allow to air dry.
  • Avoid cutting raw meat on the wooden cutting board to prevent potential contamination.
  • Store the cutting board in a dry location.
  • Never cut foods in the same spot on the cutting board.  Move your cutting locations around the board for even wear.

So folks, go out and buy that wooden cutting board you have been eyeing.  Sure, it is more expensive than that flexible plastic cutting board that you can pick up for less than $10.  But think of a wooden cutting board as an investment.  With proper care, you too can enjoy a wooden cutting board for a lifetime.

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8 responses »

  1. Of course the cutting boards I remember from my childhood were all wooden. But until recently ours were plastic (remember that we were told wooden cutting boards were unsanitary?). A couple of years ago we switched back to wood. You’ve inspired me to see if I can turn up any of the old ones my mother and grandmother used.

    • Yes, I remember when we were told that wood was unsanitary and there was this push to go to plastic. I recently found a vintage wooden cutting board at a garage sale. It needs to be sanded to remove some deeper cuts. Once that is done, I will apply mineral oil… the wood appears to be quite dry. Even though there are newer materials on the market, I still look to the past for my inspiration and materials.

  2. I have the wooden pig maple cutting board that my brother made me in 1978 and it’s still going strong. It makes me smile every time I use it.

    • My husband made a maple cutting board shaped like a pig when he was in junior high. Perhaps the pig shape was popular in the midwest during the late 70s? When we travel, the pig goes with us. It is small enough for travel, yet large enough to be a good cutting surface.

  3. I never use anything but wooden ones. A plastic chopping board just isn’t right…maybe because my mum only ever had one chopping board that I know of and it was a wooden one, every time I used it I felt like that little kid again carefully cutting carrots with a sharp knife – they do last a lifetime!

    • I tried a plastic one once (at work) and did not like it. All the cutting boards in the photo are a portion of my wooden cutting boards. Two of them have been used for over 35 years another for close to 20, while the triangle one was a recent gift with a little pull-out drawer that contains some small cheese knives. We will always use our wooden boards.

      • 35 years!! That’s so neat. When I first went flatting 38 years ago I bought the cheapest bread knife I could find and I still use it – not because it’s a good knife anymore but because it’s so familiar and fits my hand perfectly.
        No, I have used plastic boards at work too and don’t like them at all.

      • I know what you mean about using something because it is familiar and fits your hand. I have a set of knives that I bought when I graduated from college. Those knives are so familiar… use them every day, just like my cutting boards.

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