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Old 01-20-2019, 03:44 PM
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How often should you oil a chopping board?

Before Christmas I noticed that my chopping board (made of bamboo) was definitely in need of oiling, not having been oiled in some time. So I oiled it (with olive oil). But how often should it be oiled?
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Old 01-20-2019, 05:27 PM
wolfman wolfman is offline
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... So I oiled it (with olive oil). ...
Olive oil and other vegetable oils will go rancid and off-tasting exposed to that much light and air. Better to use a food-safe mineral oil, often called cutting board oil, or butcher block oil.

Last edited by wolfman; 01-20-2019 at 05:27 PM.
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Old 01-20-2019, 05:31 PM
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Once you start oiling, you can tell by looking, when it looks 'dry' it's time . I have found that Bamboo needs much more oiling then wood, perhaps 3x or 4x as many times.

Cooking oil is acceptable and better then nothing, but yes get the right stuff.
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Old 01-20-2019, 06:42 PM
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Olive oil and other vegetable oils will go rancid and off-tasting exposed to that much light and air.
I haven't noticed anything in several years.

Quote:
Better to use a food-safe mineral oil, often called cutting board oil, or butcher block oil.
Duly noted.

Given that it's had umpteen dressings (ahem) of olive oil, how should I prepare it for proper oil?
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Old 01-20-2019, 07:07 PM
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I oil mine when it gets a very thorough wash after cutting something with strong aromas. Such as fish or onion. Usually I rinse and wipe dry, for daily care. I use an acrylic board for chicken so I don't generally worry about cross contamination.
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Old 01-20-2019, 07:57 PM
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We're supposed to oil our wooden cutting boards? I have never heard of this. What is the benefit of oiling them? I have a couple that I've had since the early 90's, and I've never oiled them. They work just fine and look fine to me. I use them, then I wash and dry them. After they are thoroughly dry, I put them in the cabinet. What am I missing?
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Old 01-20-2019, 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Rhiannon8404 View Post
We're supposed to oil our wooden cutting boards? I have never heard of this. What is the benefit of oiling them? I have a couple that I've had since the early 90's, and I've never oiled them. They work just fine and look fine to me. I use them, then I wash and dry them. After they are thoroughly dry, I put them in the cabinet. What am I missing?
I've had some that have warped and also separated at seams the oil seems to prevent that.
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Old 01-20-2019, 08:27 PM
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Some wooden cutting boards get noticeably dry with a lot of repeated use and washing. The surface roughens up and in the long run they can crack or warp. If you're happy with your cutting boards the way they are then I wouldn't bother oiling them. Maybe it would keep them from cracking or warping years down the road, or maybe it wouldn't.

I oil my cutting boards when they seem sort of parched but I probably don't get around to it more than once or twice a year, and I have done no experiments to determine whether it actually keeps them in better condition (except maybe for the surface feeling smoother, which ISTM is perceptible after oiling) than simply leaving them un-oiled.
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Old 01-20-2019, 09:01 PM
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The manufacturer of my board says to do it once a month. Besides keeping the wood from drying out and possibly cracking, it also helps to form a barrier that keeps meat juices from sinking in to the board, where it might be hard to remove from the fibers even with washing. I always think of it as similar to seasoning a skillet - things don't stick if you do it right.
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Old 01-20-2019, 10:34 PM
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Once a day for a week, once a week for a month, then once a month for the rest of your life.
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Old 01-21-2019, 06:23 AM
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I use an acrylic board for chicken so I don't generally worry about cross contamination.
Acrylic boards are not recommended because bacteria can lurk and thrive in the tiny scratches.
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Old 01-21-2019, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Rhiannon8404 View Post
We're supposed to oil our wooden cutting boards? I have never heard of this. What is the benefit of oiling them? I have a couple that I've had since the early 90's, and I've never oiled them. They work just fine and look fine to me. I use them, then I wash and dry them. After they are thoroughly dry, I put them in the cabinet. What am I missing?
Thank God it isn't just me. Never crossed my mind!

I don't put them through the dishwasher, so I'm not a complete philistine.
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Old 01-21-2019, 09:15 AM
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Thank God it isn't just me. Never crossed my mind!

I don't put them through the dishwasher, so I'm not a complete philistine.
Thriced. Actually, I came to the thread because I thought didn't get what it meant.
In fact, I would never buy a board that needed oiling. My cutting board is 20 years old and can't picture us getting a new one ever again.

Last edited by Ají de Gallina; 01-21-2019 at 09:16 AM.
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Old 01-21-2019, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Rhiannon8404 View Post
We're supposed to oil our wooden cutting boards? I have never heard of this. What is the benefit of oiling them? I have a couple that I've had since the early 90's, and I've never oiled them. They work just fine and look fine to me. I use them, then I wash and dry them. After they are thoroughly dry, I put them in the cabinet. What am I missing?
I've had a number over the decades and if I don't oil them sufficiently frequently they tend to crack and split.
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Old 01-21-2019, 10:26 AM
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Warping and cracking depends largely on what kind of wood was used to make the board, how it was constructed, and how it's cared for. Oiling a cutting board is primarily for aesthetics. If you have a hand-made board that's constructed from some decorative woods like walnut, purple heart, etc., an application of mineral oil will bring back the luster. Oil and other finishes typically only penetrate 1/16" (at most), regardless of what the label may say about "deep penetration". If a board is constructed using end grain or side grain, it's less likely to warp.

A washed wooden board should have all excess water wiped off. Leaving a washed board wet is the biggest culprit in warping. I have one hand-made board that, if left wet, will cup radically. It's not all that difficult to return it to flatness, though, by wetting the cupped side and applying heat to the other side. I've done this by wetting the cupped side and setting the board out in the sun (cupped side down) on a hot day.
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Old 01-21-2019, 11:38 AM
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Another non-oiler here. When dirty, I wash it and wipe it. I don't let it soak in water. If mine ever cracks (which I've never had happen in my long life) I'll get another. It's a board. Lumber yards are full of them. It's not a fine-tuned piece of machinery.
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Old 01-21-2019, 01:08 PM
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Interesting discussion - like many, i've never oiled any of my cutting boards - but I am in the process of getting my countertops replaced with 'butcher block' (solid walnut, end grain) and have been researching a bit on this whole oiling thing.

The primary purpose - as others have mentioned - is to keep it from drying out/cracking.

https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-oil...-kitchn-195642

Last edited by simster; 01-21-2019 at 01:10 PM.
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Old 01-23-2019, 01:13 PM
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Acrylic boards are not recommended because bacteria can lurk and thrive in the tiny scratches.
I've heard that too, while wood has properties that help prevent that.
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Old 01-23-2019, 01:17 PM
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Warping and cracking depends largely on what kind of wood was used to make the board, how it was constructed, and how it's cared for. Oiling a cutting board is primarily for aesthetics.....
Perhaps, though on a bamboo board I got it emphasizes to oil it, and pretty often. Bamboo is not a wood, but a grass, so perhaps it might be more then aesthetics for those materials IDK. In general, due to this I prefer a wood one board over bamboo.
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Old 01-23-2019, 02:00 PM
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Perhaps, though on a bamboo board I got it emphasizes to oil it, and pretty often. Bamboo is not a wood, but a grass, so perhaps it might be more then aesthetics for those materials IDK. In general, due to this I prefer a wood one board over bamboo.
Could be. Bamboo, while tough laterally, splits easily along its axis. Perhaps oiling helps prevent that. And I can also see where more porous woods would benefit from oiling. Hardwoods like maple or madrone may not. When cutting boards split, it's usually along a glue joint, and happens because of warping or poor construction.
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Old 01-23-2019, 02:08 PM
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Could be. Bamboo, while tough laterally, splits easily along its axis. Perhaps oiling helps prevent that. And I can also see where more porous woods would benefit from oiling. Hardwoods like maple or madrone may not. When cutting boards split, it's usually along a glue joint, and happens because of warping or poor construction.
I have a really fine maple butcher block that bears out all you have said above over the past nearly 30 years. I do oil it with mineral oil a couple of times a year and am surprised at how readily it takes on the oil. I oil it generously, allow it to soak in over a few hours and continue to add oil until the absorption stops, then blot up the excess.
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Old 01-23-2019, 03:08 PM
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I've just had a look at the prices of maple butchers' blocks.

I imagine that a large part of the high price is the cost of transportation.
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Old 01-23-2019, 03:22 PM
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I've just had a look at the prices of maple butchers' blocks.

I imagine that a large part of the high price is the cost of transportation.
LOL, they were expensive even when I bought mine in 1991. I thought long and hard about it before purchasing. But it is a piece integral to my kitchen design preference and I have never regretted buying it.

I use it several times every day. Amortized over 40-50 years, the cost is negligible for the use it has gotten. It's been one of my favorite investments.
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Old 01-23-2019, 03:24 PM
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Thank God it isn't just me. Never crossed my mind!

I don't put them through the dishwasher, so I'm not a complete philistine.
Actually if the board is solid wood, dishwashing them just makes them ugly. I think the glued together ones would eventually come apart though.

Back in middle school, I felt like my parents didn't have enough reasonably sized cutting boards- mom had like one mid-sized one. So I made a very pretty butcher-block style large one with alternating stripes of mahogany and rock maple.

To take up the slack on the "cut a single lemon" end of things, I took a roughly 8" piece of red oak scrap, cut it square, rounded the ends with the band saw, and sanded it down. Mom used it for about 10 years, then I ended up with it when I was out of college. It was pretty ugly by that point, so I just quit bothering to hand wash it, and just started throwing it in the dishwasher. Back in 1998-ish.

We finally got rid of it 2-3 years ago when we decided that our cutting board collection was getting unwieldy. It was ugly as sin- dried out looking and pale like an old fence board, but it still worked just fine. I think I may have oiled it a couple of times since 1998.
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Old 01-23-2019, 04:03 PM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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First of all, not to be pedantic, but bamboo is not a wood; it is a grass fiber. It is naturally highly porous (hence why bamboo textile fiber towels are so absorbent) so bamboo that is used for any kind of wood-like applications such as cutting boards or flooring have to be pressure treated and preserved, frequently using the Boucherie method (pressurized and infused with a boron solution) so that it does not absorb water, host fungus, or be attacked by insects. Unlike wood, which only has an active water transport layer in the outer section of the trunk that has to feed the protective bark (sometimes referred to as the "polycapillary system"), grasses have no bark and so the water transport capillaries run essentially uninterrupted across the length of the stalk from (joint to joint in bamboo), so well-treated bamboo is particularly resistant to water absorption across the the long grain direction (essentially, just in the areas between the stalk segments which are typically filled with resin). Pressure-treated bamboo will not absorb oils to any extent so any oiling that is done is just for decorative purposes; it does not protect the cutting board.

Tree wood, on the other hand, is often cut across the grain such that the cutting surface exposes the maximal amount of capillary surface. While prized for their natural resistance to rot and water absorption, hardwoods are particularly difficult to pressure treat because of the density, and as they absorb and then lose water they will tend to warp and crack (especially at any adhesive joints where the resin will be stiffer than the wood), where an uncoated softwood will be more pliable (but subject to rotting, even if treated). Oiling hardwoods is recommended in order to seal the surface from excessive water intrusion. A natural, non-spoiling, non-toxic saturated lipid like beeswax, Carnauba, or food-grade mineral oil should be used to seal the board from deep water absorption, and it should be retreated as frequently as necessary, which depends on how much the board is being used; if it is being used to process foods with highly acidic or basic juices, or is being used to process meat and cleaned with bleach or strong antibacterial solution, it should be reoiled frequently (e.g. on a weekly basis).

Softwoods should not be used for cutting boards because while the compliance of the wood will help protect the edge it will eventually be subject to deep cuts and gouges that can harbor microorganisms. A softwood cutting board will require periodic sanding even if cared for and oiled, while a hardwood cutting board can last a lifetime with good maintenance as long as it is not used with a cleaver or other forceful deep chopping.

There is a myth that ultra high molecular weight (UHMW) polyethylene cutting boards are somehow a host to microorganisms (even though they are used in every commercial kitchen I have ever worked in) while hardwood or bamboo cutting boards are somehow magically resistant to bacteria. While it is true that the tannins (polyphenols) in woods have antimicrobal properties, the reality is that a hardwood cutting board will only release a small amount of tannins at the surface, and once those are leached away it is a perfectly cromulent place for bacteria to hide and grow if not treated. If food matter is allowed to sit upon the board, only the portion in direct contact with the wood would even theoretically be exposed to any released tannins, so it is imperative to clean boards soon after use, preferably immediately after any food processing step is completed (to prevent cross-contamination), preferably using an antimicrobal agent or solution. UHMW boards have the advantage that they can be submerged in a cleaning solution for an indefinite period or run through a dishwasher without any concern about warpage while wood and bamboo boards have to be hand cleaned, rinsed, and dried, so it is much easier to assuredly sterilize UHMW boards. I do personally prefer bamboo because I feel it is a little easier on the cutting edge of a knife that UHMW, but I only use bamboo for processing vegetable matter, and have a dedicated UHMW board for meats.

Wood countertops should be not only pressure treated but infused with a protective resin because they will inevitably be exposed to standing water, and will also require periodic sanding and refinishing. Despite the maintenance required, I still feel they are aesthetically, acoustically, and repair-wise superior to other common household kitchen counter options (laminate, porcelain tile, and especially granite) because they are insulating, sound-dampening, and can easily be repaired or modified in case of any damage. They should not, however, be used as cutting surfaces and do require protection against large amounts of standing water or hot utensils or cookware. From a functional standpoint, stainless steel is the best material for a kitchen because of the ease of maintenance and cleaning, but I understand that most people don't want to feel like they are living in a delicatessen.

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Old 01-23-2019, 07:06 PM
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Actually if the board is solid wood, dishwashing them just makes them ugly. I think the glued together ones would eventually come apart though.

Back in middle school, I felt like my parents didn't have enough reasonably sized cutting boards- mom had like one mid-sized one. So I made a very pretty butcher-block style large one with alternating stripes of mahogany and rock maple.

To take up the slack on the "cut a single lemon" end of things, I took a roughly 8" piece of red oak scrap, cut it square, rounded the ends with the band saw, and sanded it down. Mom used it for about 10 years, then I ended up with it when I was out of college. It was pretty ugly by that point, so I just quit bothering to hand wash it, and just started throwing it in the dishwasher. Back in 1998-ish.

We finally got rid of it 2-3 years ago when we decided that our cutting board collection was getting unwieldy. It was ugly as sin- dried out looking and pale like an old fence board, but it still worked just fine. I think I may have oiled it a couple of times since 1998.
I make my own cutting boards, both side grain and flat, depending on what I'm trying for. End grain is just too much of a PITA for me. They are glued with Titebond III (waterproof) and clamped and believe me, they're NOT going to come apart. For a board made from wide strips, I'll also use cookies along with the glue for extra joint strength.
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