Butcher Block Care – Spring Cleaning Tips

Butcher Block Care – Spring Cleaning Tips

The weather is getting nicer, tulips are peeking up through the ground and I am reminded that it really is springtime – even though we still hear of snow storms across the country!  This means it is time for “spring cleaning”!  I may be an odd duck, but I actually find cleaning to be a bit cathartic.  When I am stressed I end up cleaning my kitchen to feel better. Maybe it is a control-thing.  Please tell me I am not the only one who feels this way?

So I thought it an appropriate time to share some butcher block care and cleaning tips for your kitchen.  My close friend, who spends a lot of time cooking and baking, was really surprised to hear that plastic cutting boards are less sanitary than wood cutting boards.  This learning has been blogged about and shared online for many years.  But if you have never heard of it, or need to be reminded of it again, here is the scoop.

For a long time it was believed that wood butcher blocks and cutting boards were more likely to harbor dangerous levels of bacteria; given that wood is porous, it would soak up juices from raw meats, allowing bacteria to seep down into the board. And this bacteria could pose a risk of contaminating the next food item placed on the cutting board. Plastic, because it is non-porous, was believed to be resistant to this bacterial invasion.

While it may not be entirely clear, research has shown that wood boards were actually more sanitary than the plastic boards.  It is believed that bacteria can get lodged in the nicks and gouges that form on a plastic cutting board.  High quality wood butcher blocks – made from Hard Rock Maple and other premium hardwoods – are more resistant to this type of knife damage.  Additionally, the wood used to construct these butcher block countertops, kitchen islands, kitchen carts, and cutting boards appears to have natural germ-killing properties which are not present in plastic!

Enough of the technical stuff, now for a few Quick Tips for Butcher Block Care:

  • Separate your FoodThe Partnership for Food Safety Education recommends using one cutting board for fresh produce and a different cutting board for raw meat, poultry and seafood to prevent cross-contamination.  We agree!
  • Wash Immediately – After use, always wash your cutting boards or chopping block with hot soapy water and dry with a clean towel.
  • Sanitize – Especially after exposure to raw meat. It is pretty easy to use 1 Tablespoon unscented chlorine bleach in one gallon of water. If you prefer, use straight white vinegar instead of diluted bleach solution.
  • Dry – Set cutting boards on edge to air dry completely.
  • Oil  – Once a month use a food-grade mineral oil like John Boos Mystery Oil or Beeswax Board Cream

At ButcherBlockCo we like to tout the many benefits of hardwood cutting boards and butcher blocks, and being more sanitary than plastic is one of our favorites.

Have fun cleaning!

 
Kitchen Fitness: Use it or Lose it!

Kitchen Fitness: Use it or Lose it!

Having grown up in a gourmet kitchen store, I have a fabulous collection of kitchen essentials. Unfortunately, I have a mass of non-essentials, too! I need to focus on my kitchen fitness!! Honestly, who really needs six whisks of the same style?

The new year brought a new home with a smaller kitchen and, let me tell you, this kitchenware collector did not adjust well! For a solid month we lived with pans literally stacked on the floor, utensils pouring out of boxes, and a butcher block table so overloaded with stuff I couldn’t even use it! After stubbing my toe on a cast iron skillet for the 27th time, I’d had enough. I painstakingly went through every piece of cookware, bakeware, gadgetry, and appliance and whittled my way down to a manageably fit kitchen.

A few of the more ridiculous things I ousted:

  • Five whisks (kept four!)
  • Three 8” fry pans. THREE!!
  • Two nasty 12” skillets
  • Two garlic presses
  • A brand new ravioli rolling pin (why??)
  • Two identical carrot ribboning tools (why I even had one is beyond me)

A few things I can’t live without:

  • Counter-space-hogging espresso machine
  • Super quality cookware and knives
  • Silicone spatulas (colorful AND functional!)
  • My KitchenAid mixer
  • Quality cutting boards
  • Cake pans (endless uses!)
  • Cheese graters (yes, plural – don’t judge.)

And a few things I WON’T live without:

  • Vita-Mix blender – Don’t use this enough to justify the hefty price tag, but it’s magic!
  • All 22 of my wonderful German knives (seven are steak knives – it’s not that excessive!) –I use about four of them regularly, but they’re all in one block, so getting rid of some won’t save me any space!
  • My 23-year-old gigantic Scanpan “witch’s cauldron.” I have used it exactly two times, but it’s the bee’s knees and holds 9.5 quarts of stew AND 23 years worth of family memories.
  • Absurd (someone said that!) amounts of cookware. After getting rid of about a dozen pans, I still have a full pot rack (excellent addition to a small kitchen, by the way) and then some.

Clearly I have a hard time letting go of things I might possibly-some-day-in-the-distant-future use (looking at you, pasta machine). Getting rid of some of my unnecessities, however, made me appreciate the value behind the pieces I kept. I can do just as much with a simple set of tongs, spatulas, and bamboo spoons as I could with the multiple boxes of utensils I chucked (donated, don’t worry).

before & after

Moral of this story is that investing in quality multi-tasking pieces not only makes sense financially, but will improve your kitchen fitness. Plus you end up with space to keep the occasional frivolous purchase (*cough* individual instant popsicle makers).

You know that feeling when you clean out your closet and it’s like you have a whole new wardrobe with room for new boots? It’s like that. So next time you throw a spatula in frustration because its fat rubber handle won’t fit into your utensil crock, do yourself a favor and get your kitchen fit!

What are your must-haves for the kitchen?