Kitchen Tips – Plastic vs. Wood & Cutting Board Maintenance

Well, I’m still a little flabbergasted by all the recent developments. First the Governor of South Carolina puts on a soap opera worthy performance, then Farrah Fawcett died and then in very surprising but not entirely shocking news, Michael Jackson dies.

For those of you in my generation, you probably still remember pulling the wrapping off your “Dangerous” cassette tape with glee. Eerily, my husband put on “Thriller” yesterday morning as we were getting ready for work. Not that I could ever picture Michael Jackson as an old man, but it’s still a little upsetting. His music had an undeniable impact.

But I guess my musings on Michael Jackson is not what you came here for!

A few weeks ago, my good friend asked me what to do about mold on her wood cutting board. My very first thought was, “throw it out! Game over!” But as I stopped to think and did a little research, I found some good resources.

First off – prevention. If you have a wood cutting board, make sure that after washing it you dry it in an upright position. If you have a dish drainer, then this likely isn’t a problem for you, but lately I’ve seen more people who go without them.

asparagus cutting board

If you notice mold on your wood cutting board, there are a few things you can do. I’ve seen some forums where people discuss using bleach, but using bleach on a cutting board seems like bad news to me. I like my food without a side of poisonous chemicals! Try cleaning with vinegar. What my friend did to remove the mold is just sand it down. Of course, this will only work if a small area is moldy (but let’s hope you’re not trying to use a cutting board ransacked with mold!)., quickly becoming my new favorite website as you can tell from my last Kitchen Tips post, gives some great tips on how to care for a variety of cutting boards including wood, plastic, glass and more.

Chef Edwin once told me that I shouldn’t be using a wooden cutting board for meat, but if that’s true then why does my wood Martha Stewart cutting board have a sweet etching of a chicken on one side and vegetables on the other? Martha wouldn’t lie to me! This article discusses that some of the sanitation fears about wood boards just go back and forth ad nauseum. The plastic lovers throw out some government reports, and the wood board lovers toss back other studies. I’m not going to get into the intricacies here; the bottom line for me is that I was raised in a house with a wood cutting board, I currently use a wood cutting board and everyone is still alive and kicking!

chicken on cutting board

But back to Martha – she suggests, “Every few weeks, sprinkle a generous portion of coarse salt over the board’s surface, and rub it with the cut side of a lemon half. Afterward, rinse the board well with hot water, then dry completely with a clean kitchen towel.”

Further, if your wood board is made from thick butcher block, then you should also oil the board periodically, wiping away the excess and letting it dry upright. Use mineral oil for this exercise – never vegetable oil. Mineral oil will keep water from seeping into the wood grain and also help prevent cracking.

Both wood and plastic cutting boards require a little maintenance to keep them free from food-borne bacteria. With a little extra care, your cutting board should last for years.


2 Responses to “Kitchen Tips – Plastic vs. Wood & Cutting Board Maintenance”

  1. Hannihaus says:

    Excellent post. Can you tell me where you got your board/who makes it? I love the etchings.

  2. Thank you! The cutting board was a wedding shower gift from over a year ago. I believe it's from Macy's – the Martha Stewart Collection. Hope they still have it!