What Is the Best Finish for Walnut Cutting Boards?

What Is the Best Finish for Walnut Cutting Boards?

I’ve been treating end grain walnut cutting boards with mineral oil. Twenty-four hours later, I seal the boards with a 4:1 hot mineral oil/beeswax mix and let it dry 24 hrs. What do you think if I soak the end grain with linseed oil and, in 48 hours, seal it with the hot mineral oil/beeswax mixture?

– Mike Dziedzic
Sonoma, California

Michael Dresdner: I’d bypass the mineral oil altogether, and instead go with paraffin, which is the traditional method of sealing end grain butcher block. Here’s why:

Mineral oil is a non-drying oil; it will never dry. Mix it with wax, and you create a gooey wax that will never harden well.

Paraffin wax, available in the canning section of your grocery store, is a great sealer for end grain cutting boards.

While boiled linseed oil will cure to a solid, it would take many applications and a lot of drying time to seal the end grain enough to keep food juices from seeping in. Adding a gooey wax mixture atop it will make matters worse.

Instead, use a vegetable peeler to make shavings from blocks of paraffin, which you’ll find in the canning section of the supermarket.

Melt the shavings, then brush the hot liquid wax liberally onto all surfaces. When the wax cools and solidifies, remove the excess by scraping it with a dull card scraper or a plastic credit card. The paraffin remaining in the end grain pores will block food juices and will make the board easy to clean.

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