Look, we all want to be ethical, and one of those ethical choices is to purchase a wooden bamboo cutting board rather than a plastic one. But if you have a bamboo cutting board in your kitchen cabinet, then you will undoubtedly know that they seem to show wear, and might even splinter easier than their more durable plastic cousins. Don’t worry though! In this article, we will guide you through all of the steps you need to take to maintain your bamboo board and keep it in tip-top shape.
Why is bamboo a good choice?
Bamboo seems to be having a popularity renaissance at the moment. It is being used in everything from floorboards, to work out clothing, to kitchen apparatus. This isn’t by mistake though, as bamboo is environmentally friendly and sustainable, as it is able to rapidly absorb carbon dioxide, and produce oxygen. It might even be a better option than wood, as research has shown that bamboo can absorb nearly 12 tonnes of carbon dioxide per hectare of the plant. It is really fast-growing too, soft on your knives, and looks beautiful when left out on your countertops.
How to maintain your bamboo cutting board
Bamboo boards need the same quantity and quality of maintenance as more traditional hardwood cutting boards do, though, if you take care of them, they will last a lot longer. Let’s take a look at the things you need to do after every use, weekly, monthly, and occasionally to keep your bamboo board in its best condition.
After every use, you should thoroughly wash your cutting board. Don’t just stick it in the dishwasher though (the long exposure to water and heat can unglue the stalks of bamboo from each other, and can result in your board literally falling apart). Rather, you need to gently hand wash them with warm water and a mild antibacterial washing-up liquid. Rince and dry with a tea towel. Set the board to the side to dry, standing it vertically or leaning it in an open-air dish rag.
About every week to every month (depending on how often you use your chopping board) you need to season your board. To season it, you will have to prepare an oil – put ½ of a cup of food-grade mineral oil in a pan, and warm it gently on your stove. You won’t need it boiling hot, just warm enough that it will go into the pores of the bamboo, and hydrate your board. After you have warmed it, pour the oil onto your (totally dry!) cutting board, and rub it into the wood using small, circular motions (think of brushing your teeth) with a clean, lint-free cloth. You have to make sure that you oil all of the sides of your board – yes, even the edges – so that the whole board is hydrated. The mineral oil forms a barrier for the bamboo, so none of the juices in your food have the chance to soak into the board and go rancid. Oiling your board is important to keep it hydrated (and not brittle), as well as keeping any excess liquids out.
Occasionally, as required, use lemon juice or bicarbonate of soda to deep clean your board. These chemicals will work particularly well if your board develops any weird stains or smells. To use these, sprinkle some juice or powder over the problem stop, and then scrub/work it in with a warm, slightly damp cloth. Let it sit for five to ten minutes, and then rinse it off, and dry your board. After you have done this, your board should both smell and look a lot better tha it did before, and if you have used lemon juice, it will be free of bacteria too, due to the antibacterial properties of lemons.
- Lemon juice is so effective at cleaning because the ascorbic acid (which is more commonly known as vitamin C) that it contains eradicates any bacteria or leftover fats on the surface, and in the pores, of the bamboo. It can also leaves behind a nice lemony fresh smell!
- Bicarbonate of soda is an effective all round kitchen cleaning ingredient. All you have to do is cover any stain with bicarbonate, and then scrub it away with a warm, wet rag.
What not to do with your board
There are a few things that you don’t want to do with your cutting board, primarily things that will damage your board’s hydration and moisture barrier. Bamboo needs quite a high level of moisture to keep it from splitting or from cracking, so not only will you need to oil your board fairly frequently, but you will also want to avoid using things that will dry out your board, such as rubbing alcohol, harsh soaps, or bleach.
You must also pay careful attention to the type of oil that you season your board with – you can’t use cooking oils, like olive, coconut, or vegetable oil. They will turn rancid eventually, which will make your board smell bad, and make the food that you prepped on the board taste awful. Mineral oil, which is one of our recommended option, is colorless and tasteless (though it is derived from petroleum, which gets it some negative points). It’ll help keep any water or food fluids (yes, we know that sounds horrible, but that is what they are), from getting into your board, warping it, and rotting. Just make sure that you purchase mineral oil that is safe for food, as there is some on the market that you are not supposed to consume. Alternatively, if petroleum based mineral oil isn’t up your street, you can use natural beeswax instead. It is a totally natural was that is produced by honeybees and is collected from their hives. It will work to hydrate your bamboo, protect it from any water penetration, and leave it shining – it also has a lovely smell to it, sort of like pine needles and turpentine, which is why it is our favorite thing to use.