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Friday, January 28, 2011

Caring For Your Wooden Chopping Block

I am lucky enough to be married to the most indulgent husband in the world. Granted, it goes both ways and he has pretty much everything he wants, too, so I don't feel too guilty. He almost always gets it right when he buys me gifts and almost always buys the best one he can afford. I just adore that man. Last year I got some divine knives and I didn't dare use them without a wooden chopping block, because you can really ruin knives if you're cutting on plastic, even if it's sturdy. Trust me and just go buy yourself the best Boos Block that you can afford, whatever size that may be, and treat it well. This one is only $45 and is totally worth it. Most people shy away from wood because they think since they can't wash them in the dishwasher they are germy. Not so! Almost all of the germs on a cutting board are dead within a few minutes of sitting on there. Wood can absorb water, unlike plastic, so it dries faster than plastic and the germs die without growing. The only thing that can cause alarm is if there are deep gouges in the surface of your board, which can be avoided by rotating your board often. There's lots of research out there about this topic if you still doubt me, and although wood boards do need a little more care, they definitely aren't more germy than their plastic cousins. Luckily, caring for a wooden chopping block is not that difficult. Here's how I do it:

I cut a lemon in half and spread about 1/4 cup of kosher (coarse) salt on the board. I squeeze a little juice out and rub in circular motions across the whole surface of the board until it's nice and clean. The lemon has acid, which helps remove stains, and a nice smell to combat odor from onion and garlic, and makes it's own little hand-held scrubber you can hold easily. The peel and pulp are a nice, scratchless cleaner. The salt acts as an abrasive to help clean the surface as well. Then I rinse it thoroughly and DRY it well with a hand towel. Once it's dry, I rub a nice coating of mineral oil all over it, making sure I oil the sides of the board and all the little crevices. Mineral oil is available at most kitchen stores. I usually rub this on with a paper towel which I can then just throw away. Mineral oil keeps food odors and stains from soaking into the wood and also gives it a nice, water-repellent surface for a while. It keeps the wood conditioned so it doesn't develop cracks between the wood as well. I do this about once a month or sooner if the board looks dry.

I do have one other rule: I never cut meat on my board. I use a plate to cut it or drag out the dreaded small plastic one I have that fits in the dishwasher and sharpen my knife after cutting on it.

Happy chopping!

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