Unless you’re a first semester, first year University student with a cafeteria pass, you probably own a cutting board.
Or if you’re a baby. If you’re a baby you almost certainly don’t own a cutting board. Pfttt. What would a baby do with a cutting board? A baby barely even knows how to set out a decent mise en place.
Mind you, if you were a baby you couldn’t read either, and you wouldn’t be reading this blog. So scratch the baby part, it doesn’t apply.
Let’s move on. We’ve determined you probably own a cutting board. You also probably have no idea how to clean it. I’m not saying this because I think you’re dirty and stupid. I say it because I have never spoken to anyone who actually seems to know how to clean a wood cutting board.
A plastic cutting board is easy to clean. Throw it in the dishwasher.
A glass cutting board is…well…you really shouldn’t own a glass cutting board. They dull your knives and the sound of cutting on them is horrible. Throw it out.
A wood cutting board, however, is a bit more complicated. To clean and sanitize it you can’t just throw it into the dishwasher. And what about those stains? How do you get rid of those? I have the answers for you all.
But first I want to talk a little bit about WHY you should own a wood cutting board, not a plastic one. You probably think that plastic is more sanitary because it isn’t porous like wood. Therefore your very logical mind tells you that bacteria can’t get trapped in plastic the way it can in wood. Things like chicken juice and steak blood.
Wood is a far more sanitary than plastic. Let me say that again in case you missed it …
UC-Davis studied the bacteria levels of plastic versus wood cutting boards and found that wood is naturally antibacterial.
A plastic cutting board retains bacteria in its scars (the places a knife has scarred the surface). It doesn’t matter how much you scrub it, wash it or put it through the dishwasher, plastic holds onto bacteria and allows it to multiply.
On the other hand, bacteria dies in or on a scarred hard wood surface. It naturally kills bacteria.
You can read a little bit more about the UC-Davis study here.
HOW TO CLEAN A CUTTING BOARD
This is what you need to clean and sanitize your wooden cutting board:
These are the directions for a heavy duty, tip to tail cleaning. Each step takes care of a separate problem so feel free to only do what you think is necessary for your board. I got this cutting board at a garage sale. It was laying in some dirt. Next to a cigarette butt. So…I felt doing all the steps was necessary. It’s a really good cutting board (Bariboo) by the way. That’s why it’s worth the effort.
Step 1: General Cleaning
Pour a mound of Kosher salt in the centre of the board. Add enough lemon juice to make a paste. Swirl it around the cutting board and scour it with a coarse sponge.
When you’ve scoured enough, rinse your board and dry it with paper towels.
(if you want to do a really good job, leave the salt solution on for a few hours…the salt will draw out impurities and liquid in the board as it dries)
Step 2: Stain and Odor Removal
Pour a mound of Baking Soda onto the centre of the board. Add enough water until a paste is formed. Rub it all around the board. If you’re doing a really good job, it’ll start to stink.
Rinse the board and dry it with paper towels. See how much nicer it looks already? No stains. No sticky.
Step 3: Sanitize, Killing the Bacteria that probably isn’t there but will make you feel better to do it.
This is the step you probably don’t need to do but might make you feel better.
Mix together 1 teaspoon of bleach with 4 cups of water in a spray bottle. Spray the surface of the board until it’s soaked. Let it sit for a few minutes. Rinse the bleach solution off and dry with paper towels.
Allow the board to completely dry out before moving onto the next step.
Step 4: Condition
Grab yourself some Mineral Oil. It needs to be the edible kind, which you’ll find in a drugstore. If it says USP after “Mineral Oil” it’s food grade/edible. But don’t eat it. It promotes the slithers. The poops. You can buy bona fide Butcher Block oil, but Mineral Oil is the exact same thing and it’s much cheaper.
Pour the Mineral Oil on a rag and rub the surface of the board. You want to soak it. This board was so dry it soaked in immediately. Keep soaking it until it doesn’t soak in anymore. Leave the board overnight.
The next day wipe off any remaining Mineral oil. Rinse the board and wipe it dry with paper towels. If the cutting board was really dried out then you might have to do this step a few times.
Your board is ready for cutting a Big Mac on. Or if you’re super healthy like me, an apple. ‘Cause I only eat apples and red peppers and wholesome foods. Also there’s no need to cut potato chips.
Not into picking up cutting boards from next to cigarette butts at garage sales? This one is a beauty and checks off all the boxes. It’s an end grain hardwood with a big enough work surface to carve a chicken on plus it’s under $100. Remember. You want end grain, not edge grain.
If you still can’t be bothered to buy or clean your cutting board, just get yourself a cafeteria pass.