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An Owner’s Guide to Butcher Blocks

As a meat lover, the trend of butcher block counter tops might really speak to you. After all, it sounds great to have built-in cutting boards right on your kitchen counter tops.

May 11, 2020

In addition to convenience, built-in butcher blocks add an aesthetically pleasing warmth to your kitchen. They feel professional, but still homey. Plus, with different grains and shades of wood, there are no shortage of beautiful butcher blocks to choose from. It’s no surprise this trend continues to grow in popularity. 

However, it’s important to note that owning a butcher block or having built-in butcher block counter tops isn’t as straightforward as it may look in home design magazines. Here are a few things you’ll need to know before undergoing this popular kitchen upgrade. 

Butcher blocks require maintenance 

Even butcher blocks that aren’t built-in require a degree of care to remain functional and safe places for cutting meat and preparing food. Unlike marble or stone countertops — or plastic or silicon cutting boards — wooden butcher blocks need treatment in order to protect the surface from nicks, scratches and damage. In general, it’s recommended to treat your butcher block with mineral oil at least once per year. Additionally, sanding down scratches can help preserve the life of your butcher block and limit the development of crevices, which can be dangerous places for bacteria to harbor.

Butcher blocks need to be cleaned very carefully

Wood is porous, so it soaks up residues and moisture from the surface. This means germs and bacteria can settle inside your butcher block, compromising the safety of it as a food preparation surface. Because of this, you should make sure to carefully and intentionally clean your butcher block with soap and water or vinegar after every single use. Avoid letting food residue sit too long on the surface without wiping up — especially when it comes to raw meat.

Butcher blocks need protection from the elements

Spilled liquid can seep into the wood and cause mold if it isn’t cleaned properly. Because of this, putting butcher block countertops next to your kitchen sink can be risky. The same goes for storing a detached butcher block near your sink. Splashed water from dish washing could collect under the butcher block and lead to mold growth, compromising the wood. Beyond water, other spilled liquids — like coffee — pose a danger for staining the porous wood. Hot surfaces pose similar risks, so cooks with butcher block countertops should resist the urge to place hot pans and dishes directly onto the wood. While it might seem durable, the heat can lead to cracks, bubbles or even burns. 

While these maintenance issues are important to know if you plan to own a butcher block or are considering installing butcher block countertops, don’t let them discourage you. When properly cared for, butcher blocks are a great addition to any home chef’s kitchen. With a little care and caution, they can last for a long time.

Channel your inner butcher. Shop cuts today.

 

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