A few notes about our cutting boards.
As you may have noticed we have not offered our cutting boards for a while now. This is due to the fact we have had a few crack out in the world and I really wanted to understand what was going on with these boards and why they were cracking. Let me say that I'm only talking about 3 boards out of several hundred that have done this, none the less it was disconcerting. In looking at the failed boards what I saw was the boards did not break on the glue joint, but in fact split through the wood itself. After a little research, it became clear that there are a couple of situations which can damage your end grain cutting board beyond repair.
- Running it through the dishwasher. The drying cycle will just kill the board
- Not oiling the board when needed. Two times a year seems to work well for our household.
- Cutting a roast or poultry on the board and leaving the juices sit on the board while you are having a long dinner.
This last scenario is one which I believe has torn several boards apart and here's what I believe happened. These boards are beautiful and so some people tend not to use them every day; but, rather keep them stored for "special" occasions like Christmas. During storage, the board is not seeing any water and has a tendency to dry out especially if they are stored high in the kitchen like over the refrigerator. Then the board is brought out to do the honor of holding the special roast or bird for the special dinner. As the food releases lots of juice, the board tends to soak this up and begins to expand. If this goes unchecked the board can tear itself apart. The way to avoid this is easy.
If you only want to use your board on special occasions:
- Get the board out maybe the day before the event and wash both sides of the board with warm water and set it out to dry where air can get to both sides of the board.
- After the board dries, treat it with either mineral oil or coconut oil. You will see the board drink in the oil especially in the area of the Hinoki wood. This is because this wood is a bit softer than the walnut wrap and so it will take in more oil. You don't need a ton of oil on the board just enough to feed the wood.
- Next, after you have cut your roast or bird, clear your board of meat and juices and rinse. This will prevent excess moisture from soaking into the board.
I have the first two boards ever made and we use them every day without any problems. I actually think it's good for the boards to get used and washed daily as it keeps the wood hydrated to a small extent which in turn keeps it from drying out. Whenever the boards at my house start to look too dry, I just rub some coconut oil into them and they then look rich and refreshed.
I believe if you follow these simple steps, your end grain cutting board will last a lifetime. Think of it as a living thing or piece of furniture that needs to be fed from time to time.