Thursday, September 24, 2009

How to use Butcher Block in the Kitchen

By Arthur Butler

If you are purchasing items to outfit your kitchen, you know that a good cutting block can be a definite asset to anyone. You don't need to be a professional chef to benefit from the advantages of butcher's block, but you should know what to look for when you are shopping for one.

Butcher block is a very thick, very durable cutting surface that is made from pieces of wood that have been stuck together. It got its name because it was originally used in butcher shops and meat processing facilities because it can withstand repeated blows from very heavy knives without being damaged. If the butchers block did become damaged, it was simple to resurface it and the block was so thick that you could resurface it many times without weakening it overall.

If you are trying to decide how you want to incorporate butchers block into your home, you have several different options and it is up to you which you select. You should think about how much cutting space you want to have and this can be a guide to your plans. There are a number of different options, including entire counter tops, kitchen islands with a butchers block top, or a piece that is used as a stand-alone board.

End grain butcher's block is extremely durable and allows the force of knife blows to be absorbed between the wood fibers. This is excellent because by absorbing the force, the block will keep your knives shaper. End grain butcher's block is considered by many chefs to be more desirable than edge grain because it keeps the block from being nicked and scratched. Sharper knives and a longer lasting cutting surface are things that matter very much if you work with food for a living.

Edge grain butcher block is the kind that many people are used to. This is the style that many see when they picture butcher's block. It is made of long slats of wood that often run the length of the board and the look is very similar to that of wood flooring.

Think about the use you will be putting your board through. If you love the look of natural wood and want a lot of work space where you can cut food, consider using butcher's block as a counter top. If you love the look of stone but you want to have some ability to use butcher block, think about an island or a separate block. You can even build or buy portable stands which place the block at cutting height but are not a permanent part of your kitchen and can be moved around. When selecting any block, consider how the pieces have been glued together and how they have been treated. Make sure it is with food safe oils.

You need to know what kind of oil the wood has been treated with. Butcher block needs to be treated with oil to keep the wood pliable and conditioned so that it does not break or splinter. There are a number of different oils that wood can be treated with and some can be toxic if they are ingested. That is the last thing you want if you are using it to prepare food on.

If you are looking at getting butcher block counters, you need to get them from a reputable dealer. Although they can be shaped with regular woodworking tools, you need to make sure that they have been assembled using glue that is food safe and treated with food safe oil as well. Learning as much as you can about butchers block can help you avoid costly mistakes and get you the product you have been looking for.

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