For those of you who don't use a wooden chopping block, do yourself a favour and go and get one! Not only do they look nice, but they protect your knives by not dulling them as quickly as a plastic board would. As well (contrary to what you might think) they kill surface bacteria by wicking the moisture to the surface since wood is porous. That being said, we still cut our meats on a plastic board which we clean in the dishwasher to be extra safe and avoid any cross-contamination.
So, here is how I keep the board in fine chopping form.
I generally do this when the board starts to look a bit parched (every month or so) but I'll admit that this was a bit overdue. Here is how it looked 'before'.
You can see - especially up close - the dry patches. The middle of the board gets the driest as it sees the most action. Therefore it also sees the most water and juices. Water + juices + air + hunk of wood = dry, dehydrated wood.
First, I give the board a good clean with soap and water. Once dry, I rub it with lemon to help sterilize it as well as eliminate any lingering odours that have been trapped in the wood fibres (garlic, I'm talking to you).
I get a bit lemon-happy and am okay in admitting it. You can never go wrong with too much lemon!
Once that dries, I give it another quick wipe with a damp cloth. The board can be a bit sticky from the lemon and you may have tiny pieces of lemon pulp that you want to wipe off before the next step.
Then the magic happens. To condition and oil the cutting board, pour on some mineral oil (available in the pharmacy section of most stores). Rub that in with a clean paper towel. I like to fold my paper towel up, forming a small 'pad'. I distribute the oil by rubbing it with the pad in a circular motion to really work the oil down into the grain.
Don't forget about the sides and any handle cutouts (ours has two). They get dehydrated as well.
I always add another layer to my extra dry spots...
I let it sit for about 10-15 minutes and then I come back and give it a quick finishing wipe to clean up any extra oil still on the surface. Most of it has been absorbed by this time though.
So, a quick 'before' for you again:
And the nice juicy 'after'!
Can't you just hear the cutting board screaming "thank you!!!!" No? I guess I'm the only one who talks to hunks of wood then. Could be worse I guess...
And don't even think about calling me a "Block Head" Charlie Brown.