Dallas Morning News - January 21, 2021
From preparing herb tea ingredients to prepping for entire meals, cutting boards are used a lot at our place. What's the proper way to clean those bamboo and wood boards so they don't dry out and crack? By the way, I avoid plastic cutting boards. Don't like the idea of ingesting tiny slivers of plastic.
My research found the most common recommendation is to treat the bamboo or wood with "food grade" mineral oil. Knowing that mineral oil is a petroleum-based product, my eyebrows went up just a wee bit.
Bamboo cutting boards and Howard's Cutting Board Oil
Here's what I found out. Food-grade mineral oil has no taste, color or odor. It is "nontoxic," stable at room temperature and doesn't spoil. It has many pharmaceutical, industrial and personal care applications and can smooth, lubricate, soften, restore moisture and protect surfaces. It also seems to be pure enough to use in the kitchen and on the body. It's manufactured by thoroughly removing impurities.
Food-grade mineral oil is the most highly refined and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for cosmetic and personal care uses as well as a food additive. Unlike vegetable oil, it won't go rancid and lasts a long time if stored properly.
Food grade mineral oil for cutting boards and other wooden devices such as bowls, spoons, spatulas etc. is known as "butcher block oil." Howard's Cutting Board Oil is one brand (no relationship). It is a high quality, non-reactive, tasteless, odorless and colorless liquid paraffin product. Goddard's Butcher Block Oil is another.
It's not wise to use common oils from nuts and other plant seeds on your cutting boards. These oils are rich in fats that can go rancid after a short period of time. These oils can encourage bacteria and the rancidity will transfer off-flavors to your food and emit odors. Tung oil is sometimes used but there are 2 additional concerns. Some people are highly allergic to the oil from tung tree nuts. And much of the tung oil sold in the paint industry contains ingredients not fit for human consumption.
Food grade mineral oil for treating cutting boards and other bamboo and wooden kitchen utensils
Some sources say that coconut oil is safe for cutting boards. I love coconut oil but it can have the plant oil problems mentioned above. Coconut Cutting Board Oil by Caron & Doucet might be an exception. Because of its processing, this oil supposedly will not go rancid like regular vegetable oils and has a blend of essential oils for a pine and citrus scent.
To maintain our cutting boards, I treat them occasionally with hydrogen peroxide to remove bacteria, scour with fine steel wool to remove solid residue, clean with soap and water and apply one of the butcher block oils. White vinegar can be used in lieu of hydrogen peroxide but avoid the bad idea of cleaning with bleach. It's toxic and stinks.