Care of food preparation/cutting boards


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Care of food preparation/cutting boards

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Nov 25, 2010, 11:29pm

Can anyone advise what's best to use to 'condition' a new cutting board?

The manufacturer of my new board recommends Mineral (or Butcher Block) Oil, but I'm having trouble finding any in the small town where I live. I've heard that it's not a good idea to use any ordinary cooking oil because of eventual rancidity and the possibility of bacteria build-up.

Editado: Nov 26, 2010, 12:18am

I've read some things about mineral not being safe to use on your skin:

A forum recommends walnut oil, as it doesn't go rancid. Not good for nut allergies though.
You can read what they said here:

Nov 26, 2010, 12:41am

Thanks, thebeadden..... I'm not planning on using the oil on my skin.

I have seen the woodwork forum site, but would like to hear from LT people who have actually used various oils on their own cutting boards; have they found one that's better than another perhaps.

Since my initial post I have found a supplier of 'food-safe' mineral oil, and one of their outlets is an antique shop that's not far away. They'll probably charge me an arm and a leg.

Nov 26, 2010, 1:00am

We use olive oil. But after reading your post, I might start looking around for the food safe mineral oil too.

Nov 26, 2010, 5:01am


Butchers I've worked with sprinkle flour on their blocks as a sort of sighting mask and scrub with a wire brush until the flour can't be seen.

Every few days they sprinkle salt on their blocks and leave it overnight.

Of course, being butchers' blocks they get plenty of oil/fat during everyday use.

Nov 26, 2010, 7:33am

I've never used oil on mine. What is it supposed to do? Doesn't it mess up the storage area?

Here's what I do: scrape stuck on bits with a dull knife, wipe clean with a cloth damped with hot water, air dry.
If it's been used for bloody meat or fish: after wiping, cover the surface in lemon juice (e.g. rub it with half a lemon) then rub with salt to form a paste. Wipe off with a damp cloth. Leave to air dry.

Last time I started a new one I scrubbed all over with a plastic scourer with a little dish soap and hot water, simply to remove any packing gunk.
If mine is really stained I would do this last one again.

I've seen wire pads (wire wool?) used (never done it myself) by someone after doing serious meat/fish hacking at home, presumably to get into the deep crevices. Sounds like a version of what Jim has seen.

Nov 26, 2010, 1:00pm

I have used food-grade mineral oil on wooden boards, bowls, and even utensils, but if it's an item getting regular use, you don't really need to do it much, if at all. I just used it recently on a new lemon reamer because the wood looked so raw.

What is it supposed to do? Doesn't it mess up the storage area?

The oil protects the wood, keeping it from drying and cracking, plus adding some waterproofing, too.

Unfinished wood soaks up the oil like a sponge. It won't leave residue; if it does, you're using way, way too much.

The usual routine is to oil new wood once a day for a week, once a week for a month, once a month for a year, then once a year thereafter. (I might get through the first week before I start forgetting to do it.)

You can get fancy wood oils at places like Bed, Bath and Beyond, but in the "olden days," I just used mineral oil from the drugstore.

Nov 26, 2010, 3:14pm

Some interesting information here... Thanks everyone. This town's only butcher has never heard of Butcher's Block Oil; the pharmacy hasn't heard of mineral oil; one of the hardware stores has heard of something like it and will ask 'the rep' when he next calls in (no one's quite sure when that might be).

Having read post no. 7 I think I'll head for the antique place here as they seem to have a monopoly on the supply of this elusive unguent.

Jim has, as usual, enlightened me with his arcane knowledge, and Kev has reinforced my own belief in the cleansing power of lemon and salt.

Nov 28, 2010, 6:14pm

Just a post-script. It occurs to me that as my query which began this threadlet has nothing whatsoever to do with books, and neither did another of mine regarding the accidental cooking of the moisture-absorbing pad that came packaged with the chicken pieces (my sister is almost fully recovered thanks but it was touch-and-go there for a while), it might be more appropriate to post such questions elsewhere on the web.... or somewhere else on LT.

The 'Anything Culinary' in the group's title beguiled me, but the 'Book Group' part engendered doubt. Am I doing the wrong thing?

Nov 28, 2010, 6:42pm

I've had many wonderful conversations on LT that had nothing, really, to do with books. It's the book people who populate the forums who made them worthwhile.

I would say you've done nothing at all wrong.

Nov 30, 2010, 7:59am

>10 PhaedraB: Second that.
Anyway we probably learned all we know reading* books which must count!

*And PhaedraB probably learned stuff from writing books too.