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A reader writes, “I prepare food on a butcher block and recently heard some scary stuff about salmonella or other dangerous bacteria that can live on it. How can I keep my butcher block clean?” 

Truth be told, there’s probably not a lot more than what you’re doing now. But here’s the scoop. If you chop poultry on your butcher block and then prepare uncooked food on the same surface, you could transfer salmonella to the other food.

Clean your butcher block between uses with warm soapy water. I use a Speed Cleaning scrub pad to scrub the surface. Then rinse the block with hot water and wipe it dry. 

If the block is too big to move, wipe the suds off with a couple of paper towels, then wipe dry with a final paper towel. Allow it to thoroughly air-dry. You should wash your knife and hands as well. To be super-safe, use one side of the block for fruits and veggies and the other for meats. Be sure to wash your dish towels regularly, and wash and rinse sponges well.

Occasionally, you’ll want to treat your butcher block with a coat of walnut oil. Wash it well, like I just described, and then allow it to dry several hours or overnight. Then pour walnut oil onto the block and spread it around with a paper towel. Use a bit more than is necessary and allow the oil to remain on the surface for a few minutes. Then wipe away the excess with several paper towels. It will look like new again! (At least, for a few months.)

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