Saturday, March 19, 2011

Seasoning a Wood Chopping Block

For our wedding, we received a gorgeous wood chopping block. It's an end grain chopping block, which means that, unlike plastic or edge grain, it won't dull the knives we use. It absorbs the impact of the knife, which is really cool. I think it kind of looks like a parquet floor, and it's very classy. It looks a lot like this:
There is, however, a downfall to having a nice, wood chopping block. Like all nice things, it needs a little more TLC. In this case, it needs to be seasoned. 

A wood chopping block doesn't have to be seasoned. But, an unseasoned board is more likely to crack and warp, and a cracked board can harbor bacteria and other nasty stuff. If a board is cracked, it can still be seasoned, but it needs to be sanded down first. 

And so I broke out the google, and figured out what I needed to do. I was hoping for an Alton Brown tutorial (which is how we seasoned our cast iron skillet), but no such luck. So after scouring the interwebs, I've figured out the best way. 

1. Get your hands on some mineral oil. Don't know what mineral oil is? Neither did I. It's actually - wait for it - a laxative. Yep. I freaked. But I scoured google a bit more, and seriously, that's what you use. But it makes sense - it's food safe, it's odorless, and it's tasteless. So buy yourself a bottle awkwardly at CVS or your local drugstore. 

2. Heat a bit of oil in a bowl for about 20 seconds. It should be slightly warm, but not boiling. Find a clean cloth (I used a cheapo washcloth from the dollar store), and rub the oil onto the wood. Every inch of the wood. It'll soak right in most likely, but if there's a bit left on the surface, wipe it off with a paper towel. 

3. Now. Wait six hours, and do it again. Repeat. And repeat again. It needs to be done 4-6 times the first time you season a chopping block (with six hours in between), and then once a month afterward. Or if your wood ever starts to feel dry. 

The wood on the block will darker once it's seasoned, but that's okay. Also, you can't submerge the wood (wood soaks up water, which causes it to crack), so if when it needs to be cleaned, just used a damp cloth or a spray bottle with vinegar. 

Once it's done the first time, it's really easy to take care of. It just needs a bit of TLC to be awesome. Love my new chopping block!

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