Hardwood Cutting Boards | The Old Farmer's Almanac

North American hardwood boards make the cut

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Recently, I was warned, “No one buys wooden kitchen stuff anymore. People want things made from materials that are dishwasher-friendly.”

I wasn’t convinced. I’ve found that a lot of great kitchens have a good hardwood cutting board in the kitchen, not to mention beautiful wooden knife blocks and other well-crafted items.

After doing a little research, I felt validated to find that there are still some companies doing quite well making wooden kitchen products in the United States.

One of the country’s leading manufacturers, J. K. Adams Company, has been crafting wooden boards, bowls, plates, knife blocks, and other kitchen essentials from sustainably harvested North American hardwoods since 1944. From its humble start, the J. K. Adams factory has been operating at the same location in rural Dorset, Vermont.

As many as three generations of families have plied their woodworking skills making a wide range of handsome and utilitarian goods for homes across the land. J. K. Adams attributes its success to local Vermonters employed by the company when it was getting started. These early workers brought with them the time-honored techniques and quality craftsmanship that could come only from generations of shared knowledge and experience.

J. K. Adams has always relied on the creativity and skill of its workforce to develop innovative products, and today the company continues to be a leader in the design of functional kitchen and household woodenware.

Cutting boards are among J. K. Adams’s best-selling items with my customers. With proper care, hardwood cutting boards will last a lifetime. Here are a few tips to ensure that your wooden cutting boards withstand daily use and are always safe from any food-borne bacteria.

Sanitizing a wooden cutting board. Immediately after each use, cutting boards should be cleaned with a damp cloth and a mild antibacterial soap or commonly available 3% hydrogen peroxide, which is much more effective than chlorine bleach at sanitizing wood.

After sanitizing, rinse with hot water, wipe with a clean cloth, and allow to dry in an upright position. Cutting boards should be kept dry when not in use. Resident bacteria can survive no more than a few hours without moisture. Do not soak wooden cutting boards and never put them in the dishwasher.

Removing stains and odors. Remove stains by generously sprinkling regular table salt over the surface of the board and rubbing it with a sliced lemon. Rinse well with hot water. Baking soda also works well to remove odors, especially if you’ve been working with onions, garlic, or other strong-scented foods. 

Oiling a wood cutting board. Oiling a cutting board is essential because detergents used for cleaning tend to dry out the wood, causing splits and an overall shorter useful life span. Food-grade mineral oil or beeswax works best. 

Re-oil the board depending on the frequency of washing, as detergents will eventually remove the oils in the wood. As wood dries out, it gets a “thirsty,” washed-out appearance. As a general rule, a monthly treatment will keep woodenware looking good and preserve its utility. Apply the oil liberally and rub into the wood with a clean cloth or paper towel. Stand the board on end or prop up for a few hours, re-oiling until the wood does not absorb any more oil. Wipe off any excess.

No matter how you slice it, I think that wooden cutting boards are a must-have in any kitchen—and they also make for a beautiful, well-crafted gift that lasts.