To most people, all cutting boards might look the same: they are just simple blocks of wood on which they can chop food. However, not all cutting boards are created equal. For instance, end grain cutting boards have a distinct appearance, quality, and durability that sets them apart from the other boards. And to maintain those elements, you must follow certain maintenance practices. Here are some tips on how to make your end grain cutting board last for a long time:
Wash away bacteria
Food particles, bacteria, and moisture can easily lodge in the wood and contaminate the food you’re preparing on the board. As a result, you should wash the cutting board thoroughly after every use using warm water and dishwashing soap. Rinse the board carefully, making sure to remove all food particles. Then, dry it immediately in an upright position to prevent moisture buildup.
Banish bad odors
Since a variety of food is prepared using the end grain cutting board, it can retain some unpleasant smells. Fortunately, you can remedy this using the stuff you have in your very own pantry. Just follow these steps.
- Cut a lemon in half and sprinkle some salt on the board.
- Rub the lemon on the surface while slowly squeezing the juice out.
- Let it sit for about 15–20 minutes, then rinse with soap and water.
- This trick also works well with baking soda and vinegar.
Store it correctly
As mentioned before, end grain cutting boards easily retain moisture. This can result in faster deterioration. Now, take note that moist cutting boards can also harbor bacteria. To prevent this, store your end grain cutting board in an open area, such as the kitchen counter. This allows air to circulate and keeps the board dry.
Things to avoid
To keep your end grain cutting board in prime condition, avoid using steel wool and other abrasive materials to clean it. Be sure to clean it right after each use instead of leaving it on the sink for a long time. Lastly, only use mineral oil to condition the board to prevent unpleasant odors.
Sealing oil on the cutting board
Conditioning your end grain cutting board with mineral oil seals the wood, preventing contamination and enhancing its appearance. You should do this every few months, depending on how often you use your cutting board. To condition your end grain cutting board, follow these simple steps:
- Wash the board thoroughly using the method mentioned above.
- Remove bad odors and stains with sliced lemon and salt, also described in detail above.
- Allow the board to completely dry off overnight.
- Using mineral oil, place a small amount onto the surface of the board. Using a clean cloth, rub it in the direction of the wood grain.
- Let the oil soak into the wood for about 4–6 hours. Apply more coats of oil until the wood won’t absorb any more oil.
- Wipe off any excess oil using a dry cloth and store in a ventilated area to dry off.
Sanding the cutting board
If you use your end grain cutting board often, you’ll probably notice scratches and knife marks on the surface. To keep it looking brand new, you can sand the cutting board. Take note that end grain cutting boards have solid and hard surfaces, so sanding by hand can be difficult. Thus, you will need a random orbit sander to do this.
- Before starting, wear protective gear such as goggles and mask to protect yourself from the dust.
- Start by using coarse sandpaper with 40–60 grit.
- Gradually work up to medium sandpaper with 80–120 grit once you see that most of the scratches are gone.
- To give the board a smooth finish, use fine sandpaper with 150–180 grit.
- Wipe off the dust from the board with a clean cloth and re-apply mineral oil.
Cleaning your end grain cutting board will not only keep your food from contamination. It will also keep the board in a perfect condition for a long time. In fact, if you maintain it properly, an end grain cutting board can last for several years.
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