Care of wooden cutting boards - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 19 Old 08-28-2013, 06:12 PM Thread Starter
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Care of wooden cutting boards

I sell a lot of cutting boards at farmers markets. I usually give the customer a list of instructions on how to care for the boards. I was thinking about having these instructions printed on the back of my business cards. I wanted to check my directions so I googled this topic. I found a couple of instructions I do not include. Has anyone ever heard of putting coarse salt on the board and rub it in with a lemon slice followed by rinsing with hot water every couple of weeks? Also, spraying the board with vinegar to kill bacteria.
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post #2 of 19 Old 08-28-2013, 06:50 PM
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I have not heard of either the salt or vinegar treatment.

I would not want to use either on my own cutting boards.

My own boards have been washed with soapy warm water for decades. I re-oil now and again. Works for me.
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post #3 of 19 Old 08-28-2013, 07:16 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Paine View Post
I have not heard of either the salt or vinegar treatment.

I would not want to use either on my own cutting boards.

My own boards have been washed with soapy warm water for decades. I re-oil now and again. Works for me.
What you do is basically what I tell my customers. I add do not put in dishwasher or immerse in water. I know vinegar will kill bacteria but not sure what the salt and lemon do.
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post #4 of 19 Old 08-28-2013, 08:48 PM
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When I make cutting boards as Christmas presents a few years ago, I scoured the web for care instructions. I have attached the document that I compiled. Feel free to steal any or all.
Attached Files
File Type: txt cutting board care.txt (4.6 KB, 98 views)
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post #5 of 19 Old 08-28-2013, 08:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomC View Post
I know vinegar will kill bacteria but not sure what the salt and lemon do.
Tom
Vinegar kills/prevents bacterial infections because of it's acidity. (Think pickles in open barrel) Lemon juice is also highly acidic and would probably do the same.

Salt is also a food preservative and high salinity also prevents bacterial growth.

I would guess that using salt and lemons was probably a good anti-bacterial treatment for cutting boards in the early to mid 20th century when the availability of "commercial" antibacterial compounds was limited.

It was probably another of those "My Grandma always told me to" kind of treatments.

"Good Behavior is the last refuge of mediocrity" -- Henry S. Haskins
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post #6 of 19 Old 08-28-2013, 09:08 PM
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The Salt/Lemon remedy is traditionally what Butchers would use on their blocks. Not sure what they do nowadays.
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post #7 of 19 Old 08-28-2013, 09:39 PM
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Diluted bleach at the butcher shop I worked at back in the day.

That bowl was perfect right up until that last cut...
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post #8 of 19 Old 08-28-2013, 09:56 PM
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The wood itself will kill the bacteria .
I scrub mine with a plastic bristle brush under hot running water and stand on edge to dry .
I tell those who get a board I make to do the same .
I never wipe wood with sponge or cloth , nor do I use soap of any kind .
And I always use a razor sharp knife on wood , no serrated blades or bread saws .
I tell folks that too.
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post #9 of 19 Old 08-28-2013, 10:18 PM
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The British navy (in wooden ship days) used vinegar as a disinfectant and it is used as an antibacterial agent to this day.

If it doesn't feel safe, it probably isn't.
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post #10 of 19 Old 08-28-2013, 11:06 PM
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So much has been said about cutting boards and their care. Best off if you don't worry about the wood cutting boards as they don't have a history of killing anyone. Plastic yes. Wood will develop an environment that is better than almost anything you can treat it with. The trouble comes when we go from one type of food to another without washing. You can get more info on this in the Old Testament as Jewish customs had as much to do with health and well being as it did living a Godly life. Just saying.

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post #11 of 19 Old 08-29-2013, 01:45 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks all for the info. I think I will do a little more research on the natural ability of wood to prevent bacteria that has been mention here. I have had some people say they are concerned about using wood. I tell them wooden cutting boards have been used for many years verses the plastic one in use today. Again thanks!
Tom
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post #12 of 19 Old 08-29-2013, 02:01 PM
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post #13 of 19 Old 08-29-2013, 02:12 PM
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The tannins, polyphenolics and other biochemicals in wood have antibacterial properties. Does that not explain why some timber is better for in-ground applications than others?

As a sidebar to wood carving, I carve and sell birch kitchen utensils, preparation spoons and 4-tined forks (aka 16th century whisks.) They are all approx 14" long and 3/4 - 7/8" diameter. Shaped with spokeshaves and wood carving gouges and skews. Sanded a little to 220 and branded with my signature RV steel branding iron, they are ready for finishing.
Preheat the kitchen oven to 350F. Paint the sticks generiously with good olive oil (slop it on). On a wire cake rack, on a cookie sheet and into the oven for exactly 3 minutes by the clock. Remove and allow to cool.

Here are some physical facts: hot (350F) air expands in the surface wood. As that air cool and contracts, the hot olive oil is sucked down into the wood so far that you can't get it to move under normal kitchen cooking conditions.

So you decide just to paint the kitchen wood with olive oil and wait for it to "soak in." Doing all this at room temperature. Next, stir boiling soup with it. At 212F/100C (more than room temperature, yes?) the air in the cold wood expands, pushing your olive oil finish out into the soup. Big deal. Next, and as your spoon cools, the soup juice is sucked down into the wood where it begins to decompose. That's why so many old kitchen spoons look as black as the bottom of your compost bin.

Not in my kitchen, not in the tools that I sell. It's simple physics, nothing to do with any elective "style" on my part.

I hope the technique might convince someone to try it with a cutting board.
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post #14 of 19 Old 08-29-2013, 07:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robson Valley
The tannins, polyphenolics and other biochemicals in wood have antibacterial properties. Does that not explain why some timber is better for in-ground applications than others?

As a sidebar to wood carving, I carve and sell birch kitchen utensils, preparation spoons and 4-tined forks (aka 16th century whisks.) They are all approx 14" long and 3/4 - 7/8" diameter. Shaped with spokeshaves and wood carving gouges and skews. Sanded a little to 220 and branded with my signature RV steel branding iron, they are ready for finishing.
Preheat the kitchen oven to 350F. Paint the sticks generiously with good olive oil (slop it on). On a wire cake rack, on a cookie sheet and into the oven for exactly 3 minutes by the clock. Remove and allow to cool.

Here are some physical facts: hot (350F) air expands in the surface wood. As that air cool and contracts, the hot olive oil is sucked down into the wood so far that you can't get it to move under normal kitchen cooking conditions.

So you decide just to paint the kitchen wood with olive oil and wait for it to "soak in." Doing all this at room temperature. Next, stir boiling soup with it. At 212F/100C (more than room temperature, yes?) the air in the cold wood expands, pushing your olive oil finish out into the soup. Big deal. Next, and as your spoon cools, the soup juice is sucked down into the wood where it begins to decompose. That's why so many old kitchen spoons look as black as the bottom of your compost bin.

Not in my kitchen, not in the tools that I sell. It's simple physics, nothing to do with any elective "style" on my part.

I hope the technique might convince someone to try it with a cutting board.
That is a really cool idea. Now all I have to do is convince my better half that it's a good idea to put a wood cutting board in the oven, and I'll try it out.
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post #15 of 19 Old 08-29-2013, 07:12 PM
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I tried this with a cutting board once and the glue joints failed. Might work ok on solid utensils, but be careful with glued items

The tools don't make the craftsman....
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post #16 of 19 Old 08-30-2013, 12:00 AM
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ryan: how long did you leave it in the oven???? Three minutes is enough.
I'll make some silly glue-up of offcuts this winter, leftovers from building
a press for apple juice. I'll bake it just for fun.

This is a functional process based on physics, not opinion. I'm pleased.
A simple, hot-water rinse and the tool is clean. You can't move the oil in the wood
unless you reheat to 350F or more = physics.

I have carved, sanded, branded and baked 60+ kitchen sticks, maybe 40 to go
and that "project" is sort of done.

Somebody please try it, even with scrap. I'd love to know how it works with wood
of that size.
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post #17 of 19 Old 08-30-2013, 12:03 AM
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5 minutes maybe....

The tools don't make the craftsman....
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post #18 of 19 Old 08-30-2013, 04:10 AM
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Some years ago I plunged my wooden breakfast bowl into simmering raw linseed oil . It looked as tho I'd tossed in some chipped potatoes in for frying .
I hazard a guess from the surface frothing that the hot oil drove air and the remaining moisture out .

I'll have a crack at the hot oven method sometime . Its a bit like seasoning cast iron cookware .
Just a bit tho , 3 mins instead of 3 hours
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post #19 of 19 Old 08-30-2013, 07:44 PM
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Exactly, MJ. The heat expands the air in the wood and vaporizes the water = out it goes. As the wood cools, the residual air contracts and sucks the oil waaaaaay down into the wood.
I see that bubbling/frothing on my birch spoons as they come out of the oven.

Time: 3 minutes is enough. 4 minutes and I started to "brown" a couple of spoons, like french fries. OOOPS! 6 months experience in my own kitchen shows me that 3 minutes is plenty for a durable finish.
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