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Cutting Boards


CRUZMISL
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I have another question on the subject of cutting board maintenance.

My wood board seems to pick up the smell of the aromatics that I'm chopping, especially the very smelly ones, like onions and garlic. This smell gets worse when the board is wet. Is there a way to get the smell out? What should I do to prevent the smell from sticking around?

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I always rub the board with lemon to get rid of strong smells.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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My 2c:

1) I use grape seed oil for wood care (boards, handles). It's pretty inert (and recommended for high temperatures). It takes a long time until it gets rancid. In comparison with mineral oil, it's a matter of taste I guess.

2) I make the cutting board sufficiently wet before cutting. I learned that from a Japanese. For onions/garlic, I'd recommend a separate cutting board, if you intend to cut delicate ingredients.

Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

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I use a lemon as well but I also heard that rubbing in dry mustard powder will get rid of the smells.

Ditto on the multiple chopping boards, I have a board for fruit for example, nothing kills a pear like onion. I buy a plastic one for fish every couple of weeks.

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ah! so ok, now that I have discovered vegetable oil is a complete disaster for my poor little board, I have a question - is it too late for me to start again with the mineral oil?

Fi Kirkpatrick

tofu fi fie pho fum

"Your avatar shoes look like Marge Simpson's hair." - therese

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Probably not but you need to get as much of the vegetable oil out as possible. Not sure if it's really an acceptable technique or not but here's what I did with my penisula top, which came from a used kitchen prep table and was loaded with old oil and gunk....

Rub surface thoroughly with mineral spirits, allowing it to soak in. Some loosened residue should rise to the surface - scrape it off with a putty knife and then repeat the process. After day or so the surface should be totally dry and you will most likely not smell any mineral spirits as they evaporate quite completely. Rinse surface thoroughly with water a few times.

Now start the sanding process - I used a vibrating finishing sander due to the surface area (6ft x 30") but a rubber hand sanding block will be fine for a board. Start with 100 grit paper, change paper as soon as it gets gunked up and move to 180 paper and eventually to 400 grit. If you're really picky you can use 600 grit wet/dry paper and do the final sanding with a bit of board oil or mineral oil to wet the surface. The heat created by sanding may bring a bit more gunk to the surface - I did one additional mineral spirits and scraping process in between the rough and medium sanding.

Seems like a lot of work but there's an immense amount of satisfactionto be had from refinishing a good piece of wood that still has plenty of life in it and just needs some TLC. My original cutting board once served as the top to a portable rolling dishwasher (back in the early to mid sixties they actually produced these things with a 2" thick maple cutting board top). My neighbors discard it, I had it cut to size by bandsaw and the surface planed (it was in very, rough shape). With nothing more than periodic treatments of mineral oil it has served me well for the past twenty years and will eventually get passed on to my daughter (if she behaves :biggrin:

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ah!  so ok, now that I have discovered vegetable oil is a complete disaster for my poor little board, I have a question - is it too late for me to start again with the mineral oil?

It shouldn't be a problem. Use your nose - if the board smells fresh, I'd just keep using it and let the veg oil work out of the wood on its own over time. The next time the wood seems to want oiling, use lots of soap and hot water (cleanser if it's really gucky), let it dry, then mineral oil.

If the board smells at all rancid, go to soap and water etc right now. But if the oil's not rancid, there's no big risk. The wood will be happy with veg oil, the issue is just avoiding rancid oil coming into contact with your food.

I'd follow phaelon56's suggestion to use mineral spirits only if it really won't clean up with soap/vinegar/whatever else, plus I was sure I'd be sanding the surface off afterward.

Edit: spelling, again...

Edited by HKDave (log)

Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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I use one surface of a wooden cutting board for garlic/onion, etc. I've marked that side with "garlic" in tiny print in the corner of the board. So if a dish contains garlic , etc., I'll do all the prep work on that side of the board. The board is only used for veggie preparations.

Every once in a while, I get a little careless. Garlicky pineapple is kind of yucky.

Jayne

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  • 1 month later...

So the cutting board in question is a no-name brand that I picked up for cheap at Marshalls a couple of months ago. The dimensions are about 12"x8"x1" and it's basically just five pieces of wood held together by I don't know what, and at about the junctions of wood pieces #3 and #4 it's beginning to warp. I've never put this cutting board in the dishwasher, always been careful to hand wash and air dry.

Anyone have experience with unwarping wooden cutting boards? Or can you recommend me a thread here relating to the subject?

TIA!

<edit> I made the rookie wooden cutting board booboo of not treating it with mineral oil, to make it more water resistant, but I defnitely will try mineral oil on my other cutting boards in the future - oh, and where can one pick up mineral oil? Do they sell it at supermarkets, drug stores etc?</edit>

Edited by ellencho (log)

Believe me, I tied my shoes once, and it was an overrated experience - King Jaffe Joffer, ruler of Zamunda

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Throw it out or use it for firewood. You want a flat board so things stay where you put them. Also your knife could slip in an unexpected way if it hits a "raised" area of the warpped board. Don't risk cutting yourself over a few dollars. Spend a little bit more on the next board that will last for years to come. There are some other theads in the site about cutting boards but I did not see one about unwarping a board. It is interesting to read about how wood boards are safer to use than plastic in terms of cleanliness and bacterial contamination.

GoodEater

Vivo per mangiare!

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Thin boards will have a tendency to bow if you let them air dry at an angle. You can usually fix by leaning it the other way the next time you wash and dry.

But on the whole, I agree with GoodEater - do not cut on a badly warped board.

Mineral oil can be found at a good hardware store (not necessarily at Lowes or Home Despot). If they sell cast iron pans, chances are that they'll sell mineral oil. Be sure to look for "food grade" on the label.

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

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I have a wooden cutting board that is made of various hardwoods that are cut in about 1 inch strips and glued together. I washed it one day and set it flat on the counter, and the damp side swelled and warped the board. I just washed it again, turned it over so the swelled up side was on top, and waited till it had straightened out.

However, if I read your post right, the sections are warping independently. If that is true, I would follow Goodeater's advice and pitch it.

sparrowgrass
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Any drugstore should carry mineral oil. It is commonly used as a laxative and lubricant. I suppose you could unwarp the board the same way antique restorers

unwarp table tops and such that are warped. Seems like a lot of trouble though, and you'd have to go out and buy a board to use while waiting for the warped one to be restored to a usable state.

"A fool", he said, "would have swallowed it". Samuel Johnson

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If it is thick enough, and 1 inch should be, just get some sandpaper, coarse, medium, fine, super fine and sand it down until it is flat.

If you know someone who has woodworking equipment they can do it for you.

Even hardwood can be worked easily with sandpaper, wrap it around a block of wood which you can get as scraps at a lumbar yard or someplace like Lowe's or Home Depot, etc.

I have a lot of butcher block counter tops and occasionally have had one develop a bump, usuallly from someone setting a hot pan on a wet counter.

I have a lot of woodworking tools and use a wide draw knife to shave the bump down, then finish with sandpaper then seal it.

I buy mineral oil (food grade) in the drug store or Wal-Mart. It is usually right next to the Milk of Magnesia.

If you spend a little more and get one of the "end-grain" cutting boards, which are usually much thicker, you will not have a problem with warping just from moisture as wood warps along the linear plane. Heat and water will cause it to swell but it often will return to normal after a time.

If there is one of the "Factory Outlet" group of stores near you, check for a kitchenware outlet. They have excellent buys on cutting boards, all shapes and sizes, cheaper than I have seen anywhere else. I bought several to take with me when I am going to be cooking somewhere other than my home because most people do not have good ones and I do not want to ruin my knives. I carry one for meats and poultry and one for vegetables to prevent cross-contamination.

Here is a good hint for you. Go to one of the art supply places and buy one of the semi-rigid plastic art carriers. They have the perfect size for carrying your cutting boards, keeps them clean and away from other things.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Hi all,

Some of you may have seen me lurking around Malarkey on several occasions. I've met some of you and look forward to more such occasions. Now you're treated to me VERY FIRST post to eGullet! <insert fan fare here>

I've been up here for 20 minutes and am astonished to find no "gear and hardware" type of forums. Is eGullet all about food, cooking, but not about the equipment?

At any rate, here's my question. Please direct me to the appropriate forum if I'm lost. Feel free to slap me around if I'm totally out of line.

I have a debate going on with an acquaintance. He claims that Corian is an "disinfectable material" (sounds like a good band name, eh?). He swears by the stuff (and referenced use of the material in medical situations).

Well sure, it's non-porous, but after you cut on it in the kitchen?

He agrees that after you make several cuts, and grooves and chips with knives and other kitchen utensils that you've got some place to breed bacteria (not that I recommend using your good knives on such a hard surface). His solution? Use 240 grit scotch bright to restore it. Fine. Lesson learned there. Mine would get downright BROWN with bacteria.

But why then, if it requires such maintenance, is it superior to wood?

Last night, I was amazed to find that I couldn't google up any studies on the matter. I could have sworn this was a previously discussed issue.

Anyone?

Thanks,

Not A Speck Of Cereal

Not A Speck Of Cereal

"The trouble with music appreciation in general is that people are taught to have too much respect for music; they should be taught to love it instead." -- Igor Stravinsky

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END GRAIN MAPLE is the only cutting board to use. Corian tears up your knives and you should always cut on a board not your countertop unless you want to make me rich. I do countertops.$100 will get you a 3.5 inch thick end grain maple that you maintain with mineral oil. :wink:

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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Corian and the like is for looking at, not for a working kitchen. Its for poseurs.

It cuts, burns and melts at hot pan temperatures, and is not inherently anti-bacterial, unlike wood.

Use a wooden chopping or pastry board on top of corian

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The non wood, metal, rock, synthetic etc. all shares the same general problem. There is bacteria every where in the air etc.

If you use non wood, you not only may do bad things to your knife, but you also stand a much higher chance of contamination. Wood has natural antibiotic properties.

When I am using metal or a large marble for dough, I thoroughly clean it before and after use. While with the wood boards for a quick job, I normally grab cut clean, not so picky about the pre-cleaning.

Never trust a skinny chef

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This is my favorite online merchant.

They have great service and great products.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I use wood for everything but raw meat--for that I use a NSF-certified plastic board I picked up at a restaurant supply store once.

My knives stay in great condition, and I have never contracted food poisoning.

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