Whether you have a butcher block that is an entire counter top or you just have half of one for cutting stuff on, you absolutely need to take care of it. Wood is one of those things that can bring appeal to a kitchen and is quite durable, but over time you might find that your butcher’s block looks dingy, stained, old or even dented from all the knife work you’ve been doing on it. One of the wonderful things about wood, especially this type of wood, is that it can be refinished over and over and over again! If you have a butcher block that you use for your counter or for a cutting board, here are a few tips to keep it looking attractive and keeping it in tip-top shape.
Keep it Clean
In many cases other materials, such as stone, like marble or granite; it takes days, sometimes weeks for those ugly stains to show up. Wood, however, is one of those materials where stains and blemishes can show up quite quickly, sometimes within a few hours or a few days of using them. Because of this its important that you clean your block right after you’re done using it and scrub it with a mild soap. This will hep to remove any small particles of food stuck on the block. Then, use a dry soft towel to remove any moisture. If you do this every single time you use your butcher block, you will prolong its life by years!
Keep It Sanitized
When I was in culinary school we would always use a diluted method of water and bleach. This was used not only for the stainless steel tables we worked at, but also the plastic cutting boards we used. Throughout my time in school I often wondered, isn’t there a better (safer) way of cleaning the cutting boards? I mean really, how safe can it be to use a diluted bleaching method to your cutting boards, cut food on it and then eat that food! Seems very unsafe to me. If you feel the same way, when it comes to bleach or other cleaning products, fear not, there is a better option; white vinegar! White vinegar is just as good as bleach in killing e. Coli and salmonella, and yet its safe for you to use. Keep a spray bottle of straight up white vinegar nearby and use that after you do the step above, to keep your butcher block sanitary. Another option is to use a scraper – you can even use a pastry dough scraper if you have one on hand. Wet the butcher block with the vinegar and then use the scraper to get up any stubborn particles, debris, or even surface stains.
Mistakes happen. We are only human! If you were making a sauce, cutting beets on your board, or you spilled grape juice on it, you can almost guarantee that it will stain the wood. But, that’s okay because there are things you can do to get the stain up. However, its better to do these options sooner, rather than later.
– Salt and Lemon: No, we’re not making a cocktail! This is one of the most organic and safe ways to get stains removed from your butcher block. The salt acts as a scrub, while the lemon can help get rid of stains and odors. Simply make a paste from it and then place it on your block overnight and then clean your block off.
– Baking Soda: This is a no-brainer. You use baking soda in your fridge to keep stinky smells away, so why wouldn’t you also use it on your butcher block? Butcher block also helps to remove stains so this is also a multi-use option. Just cover the stain in baking soda (no liquid added), leave it on for a few minutes and clean it off. If this looked like it worked, but its not bringing the stain out completely, place more on the stain and leave it overnight.
– Sanding: As mentioned earlier, wood is one of those materials that can be refinished again and again. So if the stain is really bad, just sand it down. You will need some 80, 100 to get the stain out. Then, use a finer 180, 220 to sand it down more to bring back some of the smoothness to the wood. Make sure that you don’t just sand the stain though, sand the entire block. When you sand, JUST the stain you create a depression into the spot you are sanding so sanding everywhere will create a more uniform foundation. Once you sand, you absolutely need to use a refinishing oil. One option is to use Boos for butcher blocks and countertops. Boos is by far one of the best finishing oils around. You can see ALL the oil for cutting boards here or go directly to one I recommend here. One of the things I really like about John Boos oils is that they didn’t start out as an oil company. They started out as a butcher block company so if anyone knows anything about how to clean and maintain a butcher block or any wood kitchen surfaces for that matter, its this company.
Finishing oil is also a good way, even without sanding, to bring back life to your butcher block. This involves cleaning the surface, adding the finishing oil by hand, and then removing it using a clean soft rag. When you use a finishing oil don’t just do the surface, but the sides as well. Some people might tell you that you can skip the Boos oil and just use vegetable oil but I can tell you this is definitely not the way to go. Boos oil is scientifically made to create an oil that is specifically for your butcher block. On the other hand, if you’ve ever had a bottle of vegetable oil in the cabinet and forgot about it – you should know that vegetable oil can and will go rancid. Now imagine putting vegetable oil on your board and in weeks or months after, that oil going rancid! This, in turn, will not only ruin your block, but it will also create an awful taste and smell to whatever you cut on the block. To sum it up: Just don’t do it!
Summary Of Products Used In This Blog:
Pastry Dough Scraper
Oil For Butcher Blocks
My BEST Recommendation For Butcher Block Oil