Sunday, November 25, 2007

Dear Santa, I've Been a Very Good Chef This Year. Can I Please Have a Large Block of Wood?

That's right, if you don’t have one yet, a large, thick (at least 4-inches) wooden butcher block cutting board should be on every cooks holiday gift list. One of the great pleasures in the kitchen is cutting on one of these sturdy boards. The feeling of working on these butcher blocks, compared to the thin plastic versions, is hard to describe. It's like the difference between sitting in a large leather recliner and a flimsy folding deck chair. By the way, the prices have really come down the last few years, and they are surprisingly affordable. I really like the combination of the butcher block cutting board as part of a kitchen cart. I actually included this in a list I just did on my American Food site entitled "The Top 10 "Must Haves" for Cooking Great American Food." If you follow that link you can also see some of the models I've suggested with brands and prices.

This video clip produced for About.com shows an easy 3-step method for cleaning and caring for these great cutting surfaces. I just had a question posted about the safety of wood vs. plastic. Both have pros and cons, and I do use both, but very much prefer the wooden butcher block for general use. If cleaned and sanitized, you should have no problems. As you'll see, I use a simple vinegar solution to sanitize. Some prefer a diluted bleach solution instead. There are many online articles regarding these issues, and I invite you to investigate for yourself. No mater how you clean and sanitize them, the third step, sealing the board with mineral oil, is the real key to a long happy relationship with your butcher block. Enjoy!


20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Chef, Thanks for this great video! I did not know about the 3rd Mineral Oil step and I had only used bleach before. Great tips to know. Do you also so these steps for your wooden spoons/spatulas as well? Reason I ask is your video sparked an old memory that my italian grandma used to clean her wooden spoons with bleach but she would also sandpaper them every few months. she would then bake her wooden spoons in a very low/warm temp oven with a lite olive oil coating and they would come out shiney and impervious to dough sticking to them. I guess this mineral oil is a similar step? Thanks! Great to know I am off to take care of my block!

Chef John said...

i don't oil the spoons, but you can use the same method, and they will probably last longer. thanks.

Terry said...

Thanks Chef I always wondered how you cleaned the butcher block.

hkfreak said...

I'm not sure if I'm going to invest $60 and then constant mineral oil (like $10), and then the water and vinegar. And after every use! For a half hour! Now, I'm not a connoisseur of liquor, nor a big butcher, nor the victory garden host, nor the...well. If I had more free time in life (not me), I would do this, but for the average working person (not me, don't ask), this is a bit of...quite a lot of...too much of a inconvenience.

Chef John said...

yeah, it sounds like it would be too much for ya.

Anonymous said...

Quick question. I was looking for a crab cake recipe and as always looked here first. When I did not find one here a general search led me to your About.com site where you recently posted a recipe. Will you be posting about.com recipes here as well or do you suggest going to both sites? AP

Chef John said...

Good Question! I'm still figuring the whole thing out but I will probably do a weekly update on this blog listing the recipes I've added to my About site. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I rather get e-coli :) thats a little bit too much cleaning, besides the cutting board holds in that extra flavor that makes everything taste better, like the old wooden spoon

Chef John said...

somewhere Charles Darwin is smiling

Siri said...

Wow, so much for just cleaning a knife!!

~ Siri

foofifofum said...

Flavor from a cutting board? Yuk! I think you've confused this with a cast iron pot!

I clean my wood cutting board in a similar fashion, just not every time I use it, but certainly always after cutting fresh meat, particularly foul. Cross contamination is a big problem, and a soiled cutting board is usually the prime culprit.

The really satisfying, and I might add relief-giving point of your "How To Clean" video, is believing that well-trained, professional chefs understand the importance of keeping their work space clean, as you have demonstrated here, so when we eat out we can be confident that the real professionals in well-maintained commercial kitchens are looking out for our health and welfare!!

Cindy. Lo. said...

Dear Santa,
Besides that thick cutting board,
Can I have an ice cream maker too?

Jerry said...

I have one of these beauties sitting on my counter. I do maintain it frequently, but I have to say that I only go for a deep sanitizing when meats were cut on it. For most other things its just a quick spritz with a bleach/water solution and a good wipe down with a clean towel.

After cutting poultry, I scrub with salt, then wash, disinfect and reseal with mineral oil. The board has been in use for 3 years and no one has gotten ill from it yet!

Chef John said...

yes, i think thats all i did too. my vinegar step was only a spray and let sit for 5 minutes. then wipe down. the oiling only takes a minute, as does wiping it off. im not sure where people got the impression this was some long complex process. its only a few minutes for each step. i dont count letting oil soak in as work, and you can just rub it in as fast as you want. it must have been my bad editing!

Chef John's # 1 Fan said...

Hi! Chef John,

First of all I would like to thank you so much for all your wonderful recipe videos. They are wonderful and I thoroughly enjoy watching them.

I am a college student who loves to cook and I have made your Thai Beef Stew for about 20 of my friends twice and they really loved it. It was really good. Thank you so much for the recipes.

I just want to let you know that I have the exact same wooden chopping board as you do and you will not believe how much I paid for it????? ;o) It is made by Mountain Woods and I only paid $16.99 for it at Ross. They also had the round thick wooden one for the same price and I thought it was too good a deal to pass so I purchased both.

I only chop fruits and veggies on it and I really enjoy using it. Thank you so much for the video on how to clean it.

Happy Holidays.

P.S. I am making steak with your pan jus recipe for dinner tonight.

Kindest regards,
Your fan

Chef John said...

Thanks!!

Thomas said...

John, what is the purpose of the vinegar?

Chef John said...

it sterilizes the surface, like bleach only less harsh and edible.

Mike Emm said...

I have never used vinegar but I do give it a rub down with a lemon wedge and coarse sea salt. After it sitting for 5 minutes I rinse in warm water aggressively and use food grade mineral oil with plastic wrap under the board and maybe a bit more oil than I should, about 4 oz. and let it sit overnight.

I still have a fear about raw meats and my wood board and use a plastic board, still any hopes I will ever get over this? Is my technique too harsh for my board?

1Bigg_ER said...

Got this SLAB http://www.amazon.com/Catskill-Craftsmen-Super-Finger-Grooves/dp/B0002HE13I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1330738723&sr=8-1 and the damn thing sucks mineral oil a mutha....youknowwhat but I love it.
Do I apply the oil until it's shiny?