Good knives need a reliable partner in the kitchen: a well-cared-for, solid cutting board that's not warped or scuffed beyond recognition.
Pete Raho makes quality handcrafted wooden cutting boards at Gowanus Furniture Co. in Brooklyn. We asked him for some advice about how to keep cutting surfaces looking good and performing well.
The first step is selecting the right wood. Raho suggests maple, walnut or cherry with a thickness of at least an inch. "Domestic hardwoods are easy on your knives," he says. "Unlike bamboo or teak."
? Keep it oiled. About once a month, rub the cutting board all over with mineral oil (found in any pharmacy for a couple of bucks). Avoid cooking oil, which can go rancid. And don't be fooled by upselling: "Some stores sell what they call 'butcher block oil,' which is basically more expensive mineral oil," Raho says.
? Sand out scratches. If imperfections bother you, simply use a small piece of 220-grit sandpaper to buff them out. Go with the grain and be gentle—no need to get all Karate Kid on it.
? Don't let it soak. Moisture can warp and age wood so don't leave your cutting board in the sink and be sure to towel it off after cleaning.
? Keep it elevated. Raho's a fan of cutting board with feet. "You can do the cheffy thing and put a damp paper towel or cloth underneath so it doesn't slide around, but, again, the moisture isn't great for the board."
? Rub it with lemon. Board smelling funky? Onion or garlic odors can linger. Raho suggests sprinkling the board with coarse salt, then rubbing it with half a lemon to freshen up the surface.