A standard utensil in any home cook’s kitchen are wooden utensils and wooden cutting boards. Having been used for years, wooden utensils and cutting boards are practically the workhorses of the kitchen world. They can be used to cook nearly every type of food. Not to mention, they are one of the most sanitary cooking utensils out there.
However, properly caring for your wooden utensils and cutting boards are vital in helping them last for years. Unlike other common kitchen utensils, wooden utensils and cutting boards require some specific TLC to keep them in their best condition.
Can You Put Wooden Cutting Boards and Utensils in a Dishwasher?
Unfortunately, a dishwasher will not cut it with wooden kitchenware.
Dishwashers are all about convenience. However, this is not the case with wooden utensils and cutting boards. Although wooden cutting boards and utensils can be washed in the dishwasher, it is not recommended.
The dishwasher can actually do more harm than good to your wooden kitchenware. The prolonged exposure to high temperatures and water in a dishwasher can wear down the integrity of your wooden utensils and wooden cutting boards. In turn, your wooden cutting boards, spoons, and utensils can dry out, warp, and even crack.
This makes them hard to use. More importantly, the cracks in the wood can trap food and water and become a breeding ground for microbes, bacteria, and mold.
As such, try to avoid using the dishwasher to care for your wooden kitchen utensils as much as possible. The key to preserving is to handwash them, which I will dive into next.
How to Properly Wash Your Wooden Kitchenware
To properly maintain your wooden cutting boards and utensils, handwashing is your best deal. Here are some simple but effective tips to keep in mind when handwashing your wooden kitchenware:
- Handwash your wooden tools with hot water (the hotter, the better) and mild dish soap.
- Use a lint-free rag and be sure to wash every surface of the board, including the underside and edges. If you just wash the top, the board has a greater chance of warping. This is because the moisture will react with the grain and make it swell. If there is only swelling on the top of the board, it can easily warp.
- To reduce food smells on your wooden utensils and cutting boards, take the cut side of a lemon and rub down the surface of the wooden kitchenware. You can also use a paste of water and baking soda to reduce residual smells.
Make Sure the Wooden Boards and Utensils Are Dry Before Storing Them
After you have thoroughly washed your wooden cutting board and utensils, you should also hand dry your utensils. Specifically, take a clean dishcloth and blot your wooden utensils. Afterward, allow them to completely air-dry before storing them.
For your wooden cutting boards, do not dry them lying flat. The best way to dry your wooden cutting boards is to wipe them down and let it stand upright on its edge. This way, both of the large surfaces of the cutting board are exposed and are allowed to dry evenly. Unevenly drying your cutting board can lead to unwanted warping.
Oil Your Wooden Boards to Prevent Warping and Cracking
One of the key aspects of preserving the integrity of your wooden cutting board and utensils is to keep it properly oiled. This is very important and interestingly, many people forget or overlook this step.
Oiling your wooden cutting board and utensils is key to avoiding excessive dryness of your wooden and preventing the wood from cracking and warping.
Another key reason you should periodically oil your wooden utensils and cutting boards is for sanitation purposes. By regularly oiling your wooden cutting board and utensils, you are creating a boundary on the surface of your cutting board and utensils. This prevents blood and bacteria from seeping into your wooden kitchenware.
Ideally, you want to rub your wooden utensils and board with a food-grade mineral oil or a type of beeswax compound. The food-grade mineral oil is a petroleum-based oil that instantly hydrates wooden kitchenware. It is odorless, colorless, lightweight, and quite affordable.
Keep in mind that food-grade mineral oil is different than food-based oil. Do not use oils like vegetable oil or olive oil because they can go rancid and cause your wooden utensils to stink. So, you need to use the right type of oil for this method.
To properly oil your wooden cutting boards and utensils, follow these steps:
- Use your hands to apply a generous amount of mineral oil to the top, bottom, sides on the cutting board and utensils. Make sure to cover every groove and handle.
- Use enough of the mineral oil to give the wood an even coat. Yes, this part is important.
- Let the board soak in the oil for a minimum of three hours.
- Let it dry upright with both sides exposed.
Condition Them With a Board Cream
If you want to take an extra step in maintaining the quality of your wooden cutting boards and utensils, consider conditioning them with a cream.
A cream can help preserve all the work you did with oiling the board and utensils in the first place. To do this, you want to use a board cream like Boos Board Cream.
After the oil has been absorbed, here is how to properly apply the conditioning cream to your wooden cutting board and utensils:
- Evenly apply the cream to every surface of the wood.
- Use a microfiber cloth because the cream can be greasy.
- Repeat the same drying process mentioned above. Allow it to sit overnight if possible.
After you have let the cream sit overnight, you can refine your wooden utensils and cutting board by polishing and buffing it. To polish and buff your wooden kitchenware, take a lint-free microfiber cloth and rub the board in consistent circular motions.
You should end up with wooden utensils and cutting boards that are gleaming, glassy, and beautiful. Moreover, you have an extra protective barrier on your utensils to help than last even longer.
Keep Your Wooden Boards and Utensils Sanitary
There have been a number of tests conducted that compare the antibacterial properties of wooden cutting boards and utensils to plastic cutting boards and utensils.
A wide majority of the tests point out that wood is a much safer material than plastic. However, that does not mean it is completely impervious to bacterial growth.
For example, if your wooden cutting board and utensils have been exposed to raw meat, you need to take extra sanitization steps. One way is to use a simple sanitization solution:
- 1-part vinegar
- 4 parts water
Simply use this solution to wipe down the part and let it air dry.
The USDA has recommended that you soak your board or utensils in a gallon of water with a tablespoon of bleach or hydrogen peroxide. These are also good alternatives for protecting your wooden utensils against contamination.
The key thing to remember, however, is to not let your board soak for too long in the water. Overexposure to water is asking your wooden cutting boards and utensils to crack and warp.
Know When to Throw Them Out
There are some instances where your wooden boards and utensils will still falter despite the best care. If your cutting boards and utensils start to warp, throw it out and invest in a new one.
If the glued joints of the board start to fall apart or if cracks start to form in the wood, go ahead and get new tools. Remember, food, water, and bacteria can easily get caught in the cracks that allow harmful bacteria to thrive. In turn, you could potentially get sick, which is the last thing we want.
Keep in mind that wooden utensils will treat you right as long as you treat it right. When you go shopping for a wooden cutting board or utensils, invest in something beautiful and well-made. Fortunately, there is a world of wood styles you can choose from.
Any chef knows that wooden cutting boards and utensils are the backbone of the kitchen. As such, taking proper care of these tools is essential. While this routine seems long-winded and far from the convenience of a dishwasher, it pays off in the long run.
If you invest in properly caring for your wooden utensils and cutting boards, chances are you won’t have to invest in new utensils in the future. I hope this article was helpful to you! Happy cooking!