Not only are they beautiful additions to any home, wooden cutting boards, spatulas and spoons are practical culinary workhorses for any level of home chef. And, with the proper cleaning and care, they can last as long as your cast iron skillet.
We use our wooden cutting boards for anything and everything. (Yep, even meat. In fact, studies show that wooden boards are more effective at suffocating and killing off pesky bacteria than plastic, especially if you don't have a dishwasher.) But with everyday use comes everyday wear and tear, so to keep our boards in tip-top shape, we clean them regularly and oil them down every month or so. Here's how.
Most of the time, your board and utensils will only need a gentle wash. Hot water and a bit of dish soap will do the job for everything but the toughest berry or beet stains. Once you've washed the board, wipe off the water and then let it dry completely on its edge in a dish drainer. If you've been using your board for raw meat, scrub it down a bit more vigorously, or give it a deep clean (see below).
Whatever you do, don't ever, under any circumstances, soak your board or any wooden utensil in water.
If you've got visible stains on the board, you can help lift them with salt and lemon. Pour a tablespoon or so of kosher salt over it and use a halved lemon to scrub the salt around the stain. It should lift right off. Follow with a hot water rinse and (again) a thorough dry.
Is your cutting board stinky? Have you been carving up several chickens? Perhaps it is in need of a deep clean. To do so, first rinse off any food bits from the board and wipe it dry. Then return to your salt and lemon trick, using more salt than before and giving the whole thing a good scrub. Return to the sink with hot water and soap, wipe it clean, and (yep) dry it thoroughly.
Oil it up
After a deep cleaning, and any time your board and utensils look dry or dull, you'll want to season them. This step is not unlike seasoning a cast iron skillet, and it is crucial for increasing the longevity of your beautiful tools. We recommend rubbing your boards and spoons down with a generous coat of mineral oil, or an oil-beesewax mixture, like the board butter sold by our friends at Boothill Blades. (You can also make this mixture yourself.) Really buff it into the surface and then let everything sit out overnight, on its edge, to dry. If you can see or feel any oil or grease still on the board in the morning, wipe it off with a paper towel or microfiber towel.
Depending on how often you're using your wooden tools, you may need to take this step once a month, or maybe only a few times a year. Just look for a dry or dull surface as a sign it needs to be seasoned.
Sand as necessary
If you've got deep grooves in your boards or you're seeing a fuzzy finish on the tips of your spootulas, you should use a little sandpaper to refresh your tools. Pick a fine grit sandpaper and give your tools a buff when they're looking dry. Afterwards, repeat the oiling step above.