First, Season Your New Board with Butcher Block Oil or Cream
It’s understandable, you’re eager to try out your new cutting board or butcher block, but don’t be hasty. The first thing you should do with any new wood surface that you intend to use for food preparation, is season it with oil if the manufacturer has not already done so. The descriptor “food safe” is generally used to identify a wood product to which mineral oil has already been applied.
Regularly Oil Your Butcher Block
Thoroughly oiling your butcher block will help guard against staining and the possibility of food odors and bacteria penetrating the wood. Oil fills the pores of the wood, sealing the surface so that nothing can pass through it. It’s equally important to maintain wood surfaces used for preparing or serving meals. That means you should clean and sanitize them after each use, and re-apply oil regularly – about once a month. Reapplying oil will help prevent the wood from drying out or cracking.
Leading Manufacturers of Butcher Blocks Market their Own Brands of Oil
John Boos & Company markets their famous Mystery Oil, which is the same proprietary blend of white mineral oil and carnauba wax they use to season products made in their wood plant, plus Boos Block Board Cream. Another popular brand is Catskill's Original Butcher Block Oil, which is a mix of mineral oil and vitamin E. If you’re on a tight budget, you can get by with plain mineral oil, as long as it’s food-grade. But never use vegetable or cooking oils on your wood cutting boards or butcher blocks, as this might ultimately give the board an unpleasant odor.
Guidelines for Applying Oil to Butcher Block
There are just a few guidelines you need to follow in applng oil to your wood boards and blocks. Start by pouring oil onto the wood and use a sponge or cloth to swab the oil over the entire surface to be protected. Once the wood is saturated with oil, wipe off the excess with a clean, dry cloth. Here’s a simple guideline: it’s virtually impossible to apply too much oil to wood surfaces used for preparing or serving food. As always, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Repeated applications of oil will help keep your board smooth, unmarred and sweet-smelling. In addition, the wood will remain water-resistant, but importantly, not waterproof. In other words, you’ll be able to wash your board with soapy water and rinse, but you should never submerge it in water.
If your butcher board ever does develop cracks, consider an application of beeswax. This soft paste is great for filling in thin cracks or gaps between the wood rails of any butcher block. Wipe off any excess beeswax, then buff the surface for a nice sheen.
If you're looking for a fantastic wood cutting board on which to try out your butcher block oil or cream, you should check out our collection of wood cutting boards.