Beginners Guide to Wood Charcuterie Boards
A variety of snacks on a wood serving tray

Wood has been an impeccable choice as a surface to cut food on since the beginning of time. It is found everywhere, easy to get and soft enough for cooking tools.
Cutting boards, charcuterie boards and serving trays come in many shapes and sizes as well as different materials such as plastic, glass, steel and marble, all
of which are very easy to clean. However, unlike wood cutting boards that tend to be softer on your knives resulting in less wear and tear, other non-wood chopping boards can highly demolish your cutting tools due to their hardness. Wood boards can accumulate some knife and wear marks, but when properly maintained they can effectively repair themselves so that you don’t notice big cutting marks on the façade of the board.
Wood charcuterie boards are usually made from leftovers of large furniture pieces which helps to reduce waste. They can not only come as stunning serving boards for desserts, salad, wine, meat etc, but they keep your work areas clean and countertops scratch-free. So, if you consider your countertops and kitchen knife set as an investment themselves, then investing in the proper wood chopping board that won't stain or discolour the way plastic boards do is a must-have.

Softwood Or Hardwood Cutting Boards?

A bunch of wood cutting boards

There are types of wood. Some of them may be a good option to cut on, while others may not be the best choice. Selecting the right wood is critical for a variety of reasons, including preserving your tools and keeping your kitchen clean.

Both softwoods and hardwoods have their practical value depending on the application, but as a cooking feature, hardwood is superior to softwood due to its durability and stronger resistance to indentation, scratching, and mold, etc.

Several hardwoods, such as maple, walnut, cherry, beech, and ash, can serve as great choices for cutting boards. due to its close-grain structure and its anti-bacterial characteristics(1). Beech is also an excellent choice for chopping and charcuterie boards since it has just the right amount of hardness; it is not too hard to dull your knives(2). It tends to be cheaper than some other hardwoods.

End Grain vs. Edge Grain Boards

a rich in character wood serving tray
A serving tray with a checkered pattern

Woodworking generates a large quantity of scrap wood, which is is often too small to be used for large projects such as furniture making. Instead of throwing away the cut-offs, use them to make a good wood cutting board, charcuterie boards, and wooden serving trays. End grain cutting boards are based on bringing the ends of wood pieces together, which requires a specific type of adhesive (3). This procedure not only brings out the innate charm of the wood, but, also gives the boards a higher resistance to cuts and warping as well. End-grain boards are more expensive, but still in high demand due to their beautiful designs.

Edge grain chopping boards, where the wood in them is cut lengthwise and therefore less expensive, are more commonly found in kitchens due to their simpler design and easier production (4). With proper care and maintenance, both types of boards can be great kitchen companions.

Butterflies Joints Are Making A Great Comeback!

A wooden board with butterfly joints
A butterfly joint in a rustic piece of wood

Have you seen the trend of custom joints woodworkers are making in the shape of a butterfly? You may know them as bow ties, dovetail keys, Dutchman joints, or even Nakashima joints (5), all describing the same looking joint. Well, those types of traditional joints are not only used for aesthetic purposes; they can tie two or more pieces of wood together and prevent splitting into damaged pieces of wood, such as picture frames, doors, tables, and so on (6).
If you’re ever on social media, you might have noticed these butterfly joints are taking over the woodworking industry and are being offered everywhere from local shops to online stores. Custom wood cutting boards are being made with these beautiful joints as well, resulting in one-of-a-kind cutting and serving pieces.

How to clean a wooden cutting board?

Wood cutting boards are very practical and long-lasting. Despite the fact that wood is prone to cracking and warping, with proper care and maintenance, these boards can last a lifetime.

The first thing you should avoid is putting your cutting board in the dishwasher since the heat and water will cause the wood to splint and warp. Instead, wash your board with mild dish soap and warm water, then scrub it. Avoid using bleach since it can stain and/or dry the wood (7). The amount of water and mechanical scrubbing is more important than the soap itself to get rid of bacteria on the board surface (8).

After washing, quickly dry the cutting board with a towel and do not let it soak in water. The board should then be allowed to air-dry on both sides while standing up. If your board still has stains or odors after washing it, use some vinegar or lemon juice immediately on the area to neutralize organic elements or fats (9).

unfinished wood charcuterie boards

Another key part of wood cutting board maintenance is oiling. Appropriate upkeep demands treating your cutting board with mineral oil a few times a year (10). Do not use standard mineral oil that is meant for lubricating machines and not for food contact (11).

Wood cutting board oil is made to permeate and saturate the fibers of the wood, preventing other liquids and moisture from getting into the board (12). Use a little bar towel or a new paintbrush to coat the board with oil instead of your hands, as this may result in splinters (13)

CAUTION! Avoid using natural oils like vegetable oil or olive oil to oil your cutting board because they are rich in fat and will likely cause your board to smell bad (14). The majority of warped cutting boards are the result of shrinking caused by poor maintenance.

Charcuterie boards, cutting boards, and serving trays make excellent gifts for yourself, a friend, or a family member. So, with the holiday season approaching and many other items stuck at the ports of entry, consider purchasing a locally made wood board and sharing food with those you care about.

(1) (2) (3) (4) Elliot Bell, "How To Choose the Best for Your Cutting Board", Misen, August 04, 2019, misen.com/blogs/news/best-wood-for-your-cutting-board
(5) (6) "Butterfly Joint", Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia, 13 February 2021, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfly_joint  
(7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14)  "How to Oil and Maintain a Cutting Board", CuttingBoard.Com, www.cuttingboard.com/how-to-oil-and-maintain-a-cutting-board/ 

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