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Butcher's Block


Rides

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It has been suggested that I try here with the woodworkers to answer my question about butcher's blocks.  I've been looking for mineral oil - the stuff which goes into cosmetics and baby oil - liquid vaseline I call it but it is the by product of petroleum.  I want to use it on my butcher's block after cleaning as I know it is the best thing to use and won't contaminate the food or rot.  Do you all think it is the best thing to use or has anyone another suggestion? 

 

On another (inferior) forum some edgit said I should use copious amounts of bleach!!  Yeah, right.

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I thought that salt was traditionly used to clean butchers' blocks...

Wood has it's own anti-bacterial agents, which is why 'they' went back to advocating wooden chopping boards after recommending impervious ones for some years.

I'm not complaining - I recuperated several fantastic wooden chopping boards from school kitchens in the period when they were unpopular (the boards, that is!)
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[quote user="Rides"]

It has been suggested that I try here with the woodworkers to answer my question about butcher's blocks.  I've been looking for mineral oil - the stuff which goes into cosmetics and baby oil - liquid vaseline I call it but it is the by product of petroleum.  I want to use it on my butcher's block after cleaning as I know it is the best thing to use and won't contaminate the food or rot.  Do you all think it is the best thing to use or has anyone another suggestion? 

 

On another (inferior) forum some edgit said I should use copious amounts of bleach!!  Yeah, right.

[/quote]

Basic question - why do you want to oil the block at all?

Bleach is not a stupid suggestion. I suggest you wash the block with hot soapy water, then rinse, then wash with dilute bleach solution, then rinse copiously, then dry thoroughly.

After normal daily use, a wash with HOT soapy water followed by rinse and dry will be perfectly adequate.We have never suffered and ill effects over many years.

In terms of contamination, do not use the same surface for raw meat and cooked meat without cleaning between, in fact if possible, have separate boards for each. My own block (2 in x 24 in x 15 in) has one side clearly marked for raw the other for cooked.

It is of course feasible to have dedicated separate boards for veg, fish, etc, if thats what you want.

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Thank you all for your replies.  I can understand why a butcher would use something like bleach in his shop to kill the germs from the raw meat but I don't put raw meat on my block.  I've always been told that to wash it, dry it, put dilute vinegar solution on to disinfect it and then finish with a light coat of mineral oi - liquid petroleum if you like - was the best way to preserve it.  I agree that to use this oil is better than vegetable oil as it wouldn't go rancid in time. 

In the end, I suppose it is a matter of how you would want your block to look - bleached white or wood grain.  I don't use bleach on anything so I'll keep to the oil method.  It has been suggested that a vet or pharmacy would be the place to look and that Ikea have something just for oiling wood - although that is a bit far for me in Bordeaux. 

I'll will search until I find.

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My oldest mate is a Master Butcher: and has been for all of his working life.

He now uses white plastic chopping blocks; apparently the old solid beech blocks are out, as the raw meat becomes driven into the cleaver cuts and is very hard to excise even with strong bleach solution.

At the end of each day, he most rigourously disinfects the whole prep. room and all utensils with strong bleach solution. In nearly 50 years (starting with his late father) he has never ever had one case of food toxins being passed to any customer; even when he regularly used to sell both raw and cooked meat, which he used to prepare himself.

My only concern over using something like liquid vaseline, is that it is simply refined paraffin oil and would be liable to taint any food.

If taint is not a problem then used Liquid Paraffin BPS, or the French equivalent.

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Are you talking about a proper butcher's block - ie the blocks are about 2" square and show the end grain of the wood, or the IKEA type made up of beech strakes where the long grain is the cutting surface?

Butcher's blocks were not/are not oiled because they are end grain, and oiling end grain is a task of Hercules. My wooden cutting boards (long grain) are not oiled.

Our butcher starts each cleaning with a very serious wire brush. After a while the block has to be planed flat again, but I've never seen any sign of oil.

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A proper one with end grain.  The oil slowly sinks down into it and it looks great.  I never used to use anything but since using the olive oil it is much better. 

I don't actually use it for food preparation strangely enough because it is so lovely - chopping boards from Ikea are used for food and then cleaned with brush and bleach!!

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I have used a butchers block for about 30 years - Use olive oil - let it soak in overnight and then wash off any excess the next morning with hot (slightly soapy) water. When you are away for a few days or even a few weeks, cover with lots of olive oil and leave it while you are away. Works a treat. Really it only needs to be oiled about once a week.
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My board is end grain - an original block held with long metal rods in the middle and four iron brackets on the corners.  I use it for veggies and fruit only - meat goes on another (red) board and fish on a blue board - you can tell I used to be in catering.  I always believed that wooden surfaces held on to less bacteria than plastic, especially something like walnut or beech which have natural germ killing properties.  I use only lemon or vinegar for cleaning off the boards after washing in very hot water.  I've never poisoned anyone either - even when I worked in a restaurant.  Most food poisoning comes from dirty hands preparing food which isn't entirely fresh or food not kept at proper temperatures or reheated insufficiently.  The worst is rice which should never be reheated or kept warm or used the next day.  I just wish Chinese takeaways would learn!
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[quote user="Acegundog"]

[quote user="powerdesal"]

Whats the point of a food chopping board if its not actually used for food chopping ? 

[/quote]

To look good [;-)]

[/quote]

Now I understand, like an  ideal homes kitchen,  all chrome  and  wood,  pristine  and  pretty.   With a dustbin full of take away wrappers.

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[quote user="Rides"]  The worst is rice which should never be reheated or kept warm or used the next day.  I just wish Chinese takeaways would learn![/quote]

We have kept left-over rice (Plain with no egg or ought else added) and frozen it, for years.

A non-Chinese cook suggested this.

Heat in the microwave for a very short period and it's fine.

Never had any problem with food toxins: either that or we're immune!

[:)]

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[quote user="powerdesal"]

Now I understand, like an  ideal homes kitchen,  all chrome  and  wood,  pristine  and  pretty.   With a dustbin full of take away wrappers.
[/quote]

Yep - I think my kitchen is definately ideal [:)] but we're not into pizzas and havn't found a good KFC [:-))] down here yet so as for the dustbin full of take away wrappers - none in sight here (thank goodness!)  ............

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[quote user="Acegundog"]

[quote user="powerdesal"]

Now I understand, like an  ideal homes kitchen,  all chrome  and  wood,  pristine  and  pretty.   With a dustbin full of take away wrappers.

[/quote]

Yep - I think my kitchen is definately ideal [:)] but we're not into pizzas and havn't found a good KFC [:-))] down here yet so as for the dustbin full of take away wrappers - none in sight here (thank goodness!)  ............

[/quote]

havn't found a good KFC [:-))] down here.  The impossible always takes time.[:P]

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before i joined the Army i used to be a Butcher boy in a traditional highstreet butchers shop,  we had two large blocks and at the end of each day we would sprinkle baged saw dust over them and then with a very heavy duty wire brush (not wires but flat steel scrapers) and scrub like mad with lashings of sawdust untill it had taken a layer off and was white once again,  then wipe down with detergent.  the block tends to take its own shape which is never flat. 

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Dick, I do wonder sometimes, varnish! Wots wrong with danish oil, food safe too!

An end grain beech block will knock spots off of a man made board for cleanleness. As has been stated it contains an enzime that kills muck and germs even if it isn't cleaned properly. Just left it overnight and the germs are dead the next morning. So has been proven in lab tests, but we just scrub ours with a stainless scouring pad in hot soapy water and no problems!!

As far as using different blocks for cooked and raw meats, we haven't yet seen a butcher here that does so and not one that will wash their hands between handling raw and cooked meats and there's nooottthingg wrronnng wiivvve mee??

Oh nurse, where'z me tabletz agin!!

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Some people don't like the smell of Danish Oil - my son hates it and complains the house stinks of it. I prefer Linseed. which I associate with the cricket bats of my childhood!

Varnish - yeah, well. I was being a bit ironic. But if you want something you can just leave, then it works. Or for a very hard and durable finish. We found that some oiled and waxed finishes (in France) developed a bloom when we were away for a while. Or a mould. I didn't look too closely.

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We had a practice client a few years back, who owned a busy Victorian pub on the fringes of London.

As part of a total refurb, some guys came in, made an excellent job of sanding down the wonderful old mahogany bartops: and then finished off with some type of Two Pack resin. It was literally poured onto the bartop and self-levelled.

When set the next day, it looked like glass. It was totally impervious to water rings marks and could even stand fags being stubbed out on it!

Bottles and glasses being banged down heavily would not mark it.

OK not recommended but drinkers, when they could smoke in pubs, often missed the ashtray and left their fagend smouldering away on the bartops.

Came in either high gloss or matt.

 

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