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I have a beautiful new artisan cutting board. How do I take care of it?

Posted by Jonathan Kline on
I have a beautiful new artisan cutting board.  How do I take care of it?

I have been told a number of times “this is too beautiful to use as a cutting board!  I’m afraid I will ruin it…”  On one hand, that is a nice compliment about the boards I have crafted; on the other hand, these cutting boards are meant to be used!  So why not have both?  Go ahead and use your board for slicing, cutting and chopping your favorite ingredients for your culinary creations.  Use it for serving and presenting delicious food to your friends and family.  When you also know how to wash, dry and maintain your artisan cutting board correctly it will be a beautiful part of your kitchen for a long time.

Cutting boards from Kline Wood Design will last for many years with proper care and maintenance.  If you remember to never wash your wood cutting boards in the dishwasher or let it soak in the sink, you will be avoiding the most common mistakes.  As with all natural wood products, prolonged exposure to water can permanently damage the wood itself, causing warping, cracks or splits in the board.  The solution is to correctly handwash and dry the board after use, and regularly refresh the boards’ protective oil and beeswax finish.  Follow these guidelines to preserve and protect your board for years to come:


Use and care

  • Hand wash your board after each use with warm water, a mild dish soap, and a dishcloth, sponge, or mild scrubber. Ideally, clean off any food residue or juices quickly to minimize how much these soak into the surface of the board.
  • After washing, dry with a towel, then let your board air dry evenly. Wood naturally expands a little from the water during the washing process, then contracts as it dries.  This is a normal process and will not harm your board, as long as you give the board a chance to dry evenly.  This is easy for boards with feet because they allow air to circulate around all sides of the board.  For boards without feet, avoid setting the board directly on the counter to dry, since the top will dry much faster than to side in contact with the countertop.  Instead, dry your board in a drying rack, or leaned upright to allow even airflow.



Board Maintenance

  • Regularly apply cutting board oil to preserve the quality of the board, help prevent warping and cracking, and keep the grain and color of the board looking great!  Be sure to only use a quality food grade mineral oil or a highly refined coconut oil.  (Avoid regular coconut oil or any other food oil – these are likely to get rancid over time which can cause the board to smell bad). 
    • Boards should be oiled every 2-4 weeks. The wood will look lighter in color when it is ready for a fresh application of oil.
    • Apply a generous layer of oil to the surface of the board, enough that the board is dripping wet on all sides. Let the oil soak into the board for at least 2 hours before wiping off any excess.  Be sure the board is drying evenly (as described in the wash and dry guidelines above).
  • For best results, apply a wood conditioner after the oil. The conditioner adds a beeswax coating to the surface of the board, which adds additional moisture protection for the board and gives the board a nice shine.

Cutting Board Conditioner from Kline Wood Design



Problem solving

  • What if my board develops an odor? Even with careful care, a well-used board can get some food particles stuck in the knicks and cuts in the wood from lots of chopping and cutting, and  eventually this can cause a bad smell.  Or maybe the smell of some particularly potent onions is lingering on your board.  Solve this using white vinegar.  In most cases, you can wipe or spritz some white vinegar onto the offending area of the board, rinse it off with water after a couple of minutes, and the odor will be gone.  If the smell is particularly pervasive, you may want to soak the entire board in a container of white vinegar for two minutes, the rinse and dry as usual.  This will do a more thorough job of odor removal, just don’t submerge the board for more than a couple minutes to avoid warping and cracking. 
  • What if my board gets a stain on it? The best solution for cutting board stains it to avoid them in the first place.  Following the care and maintenance guidelines to wash and protect your board will pay off in this regard.  Of course, if you are using your board and notice your food is discoloring the board, that is the time to be sure to clean the board promptly after use.  But since things do not always go as planned, here are a few tips for addressing stains or splotches on your cutting board:
    • You can use fine grit sandpaper or a Scotch-Brite style scrubbing pad to remove surface stains in the board.
    • Don’t sand or scrub the board too aggressively, as this could cause a depression in the board.
    • If the stain soaks too deeply into the board, it might not be possible to remove. Best to take a philosophical outlook: “scars add character”, even on a cutting board.

With these guidelines in mind, you will be ready to use your cutting board as often as you like, and to also keep it looking beautiful for decades to come.