Restoring the luster of your wooden cutting boards and butcher blocks is easy and inexpensive! There are many products on the market you can use that come in fancy packaging, but it is easy to prepare your own DIY product. Keeping your cutting boards conditioned prolongs their life and keeps them sanitary so it's good to have something on hand for regular use. This article shares three very easy recipes for treating your butcher boards when they have become dry, need refinishing, or repair.
You will need:
Food grade mineral oil
Container – glass jars and old coffee cans work great
Pot – to use as double boiler
Sanitized stir stick – wooden ones work great
Always start with an impeccably clean and super dry butcher board. Wash it down with vinegar the night before and let it air dry while you sleep. The next morning, condition your clean dry board using one of the following methods.
The first method is not really a " recipe" at all. It's just plain old food grade mineral oil. There are loads of different ideas out there on which oils go rancid and which oils are best to use. In general, food grade mineral oil is considered the best all around oil to use on your wooden cutting surfaces. It is odorless, colorless, inexpensive, and most definitely will not go rancid. It can be easily found at your local hardware store or drug store. To treat your butcher board with mineral oil gently rub warmed oil onto the wood and allow it to soak in. Get your oil warm, not hot. If you are like me and do not have a "nuker", simply use a double boiler on the stove top. Just be careful as the oil is obviously flammable. This is a great regular treatment to keep your board conditioned.
The second recipe is for a creamy board oil or "Dream Cream" as I call it. This is a rich mixture of mineral oil and beeswax. Adding beeswax to your oil increases its water resistance and adds a very slight luster to the finish. Parafin can also be used. It is odorless and much less expensive; however, I personally prefer beeswax. This is a great treatment for a board that has become very dry or has been sanded down for refinishing. The recipe calls for 9 parts food grade mineral oil to 1 part beeswax.
Measure out 1 part wax to 9 parts oil. Wax beads are available or you can shave wax pieces off a block like I did.
Heat the oil and wax slowly until the oil is warm and the wax has melted. Make sure to stir and incorporate the wax as it melts.
Pour a little of the melted product onto your butcher board and rub it in making sure to get all surfaces, especially the cut edges. Allow it to soak in before using the board to prepare food. The consistency of this recipe is a little like hair gel after it cools a bit and gets firmer as it gets colder. It will melt into the board like butter as you apply it. It can be used warm or cold; However, I think it works better and faster when it's warm.
The third recipe is for a paste style "board wax". This is a rich ultra fat mixture of oil and beeswax. It is thick and waxy and offers loads of water resistance once the wax has hardened. It can be buffed to a soft luster and looks beautiful. Use this recipe as a polishing paste or crack filler. Keeping the occasional cracks and knife marks filled extends the life of your board!
This recipe is 4-5 parts food grade mineral oil to 1 part beeswax. Heat the oil and incorporate the wax as above. Rub it into the board. Allow the oil to soak in and the wax to harden before buffing it out and preparing food on it. If used warm, this wax will spread a thinner layer. If used cold it is quite thick and pasty and will give you a heavier coating.
Your wood should be treated regularly to keep it from drying out and cracking! The treatment frequency and the type of butcher block oil you need to use depends on many variables; such as climate and how often your board is used and washed. You will have to be the judge. These "recipes" will not only beautifully condition your butcher board but will add to its lifetime. They will also keep indefinitely. Once you have a batch made up it will be easy to grab off the shelf and use all year long!