Meat is quite frequently the central feature of a meal, but anyone who wants to prepare a dish involving meat knows that a part of it involves the messy task of cutting the meat. Not only can this lead to damaging the surface that the meat is cut on, but it can possibly even spread bacteria around the kitchen, leading to illness. The solution to both of these problems, is to buy a quality butchers block. A butchers block is a heavy piece of wood designed in such a way that it takes little to no damage when it is used for cutting meat, even when a heavy knife is involved. Wood has the disadvantage of being a worse place for bacteria to thrive as compared to plastic, where a knife can leave microscopic holes and crevices where bacteria can live and grow.
Butchers blocks are available in kitchen specialty stores, but they are also available on eBay, where a buyer can find more options and lower prices. Regardless of where a butchers block is purchased, there are a few things to keep in mind, such as how a butchers block is made, what style of butchers block is most suitable, and how a butchers block can be kept clean. Knowing the details of each butchers block will make it easier to find the perfect one.
Butchers Block Construction
The remarkable ability of the butchers block to withstand repeated strikes from a large, sharp knife is due to the way it is made, rather than the specific wood that it is made from. While some woods may offer a better surface in terms of hardness, it is the process of making a butchers block that provides strength. Butchers blocks are not made from a single block of wood. Butchers blocks are assembled from distinct pieces of wood that are glued together in way that truly makes it greater than the sum of its parts. Maple is a common and popular wood used to make butchers blocks, this is mostly due to the colour of the wood more so than any intrinsic qualities. There are, however, two different ways of putting a butchers block together, end-grain and flat-grain, that are both unique in their own way.
End-Grain Butchers Blocks
End-grain butchers blocks are made in a traditional style that used to be the standard for centuries. End-grain construction is accomplished by placing the cut ends of the individual pieces facing towards the surface. This allows the shock and stress of a cut to pass directly through the butchers block in a straight line, keeping the block in good condition with the added benefit of helping keep knives sharp. If properly cared for, an end-grain block can last for decades, and there are examples of them being passed from generation to generation. End-grain butchers blocks have a superior design, but are increasingly rare, as they require greater craftsmanship to make and are therefore, more expensive. End-grain blocks are also heavier and may be difficult to manage with ease.
Flat-Grain Butchers Blocks
Flat-grain butchers blocks are also known as edge-grain butchers blocks. The difference between a flat-grain block and an end-grain one is that in a flat-grain block, the wooden pieces are placed lengthwise. The result is that the block is lighter and less expensive, but it will not last as long and it will dull knife edges far sooner than will an end-grain block. A flat-grain block will be inexpensive and easier to find either in stores or online.
Alternative Types of Butchers Blocks
Most butchers blocks are basic cutting boards that can be moved around a kitchen. There are other kitchen items that incorporate a butchers block, that can also be used to cut meat. Most of them incorporate a flat-grain butchers block, but others do use an end-grain block, making them more durable.
A kitchen island is a platform that can be placed in a kitchen in order to provide another surface for kitchen tasks, along with some extra storage space. Some kitchen islands need to be installed, much like a counter, but many are portable, and even feature wheels, allowing them to be moved around the kitchen as needed or out of the way completely. Not all kitchen islands contain a butchers block, but some use a butchers block as their main surface. Users can then use the island as a cutting surface for meat, vegetables or anything else. Due to the durable nature of a butchers block, even strong knife cuts will not severely damage the surface, meaning that the island itself can last for a long time.
While kitchen counters are seldom made entirely of wood, it is possible to replace a section of countertop with a butchers block. This allows users to have a surface area that can withstand knife cuts, and can provide more colour and warmth than a countertop made from marble or tile. There are many woods that are made into a butchers block counter, including the popular maple, along with cherry, oak, zebrawood, bamboo, and wenge, a dark African wood. Some butchers block counters are made with mixed woods in order to provide varied colours and patterns.
Maintaining a Butcher’s Block
Before buying a butchers block, it is important to be aware of what is required to keep it clean. Even though a wooden cutting board has a natural resistance to bacteria, this does not mean that they cannot grow and even thrive on a wooden surface. For this reason, it is always important to clean and sanitise a butchers block, regardless of whether or not it is a simple cutting board or a large kitchen counter. Even without the presence of bacteria, a butchers block can become easily stained by water and other liquids. The easiest way to clean a butchers block, is to simply apply a damp cloth or sponge and some soapy water. This should remove any bacteria and other harmful materials or liquids. One trick commonly used to prevent stains, is to treat the butchers block with mineral oil. This oil will bring out the natural colours of the wood and is safe to prepare food on. Applying mineral oil is recommended on a monthly basis.
Rejuvenating a Butchers Block
Some buyers may find that they will save money by purchasing a used butchers block, or they have one that is looking old and weathered. Since a butchers block is typically made of wood, it is possible to rejuvenate them and restore them to an attractive and usable condition. The best way to achieve this is to sand the butchers block, using sandpaper or an electric sander. This can also serve to remove stains that have not sunk too deeply into the wood yet. After a butchers block has been sanded to a satisfactory level, it can be treated with mineral oil and finished with varnish or beeswax. Varnish may be harder to remove for future rejuvenations, but beeswax is fairly inexpensive and can actually make the board waterproof.
Buying a Butchers Block on eBay
Butchers blocks than can be used as cutting boards, along with larger items like kitchen islands, can be found, and purchased, on eBay. Using eBay allows users to explore a wide variety of options made from many different kinds of wood as well as potential lower prices. With a proper search, any kind of butchers block can be found on eBay, allowing buyers to compare and contrast different items in order to find the perfect one. The search process merely involves typing a key phrase into the search bar on the eBay home page. An example of such a phrase is "butchers block", although this will provide every option in terms of butchers blocks, a buyer may want something more specific. This problem can be remedied by simply adding more keywords, and searching until the perfect item, new or used, has been discovered. Once discovered, purchasing an item on eBay is simple and straightforward, and can lead to a richly rewarding experience.
A butchers block is one of the unsung heroes of the kitchen world, allowing anyone to properly cut meat without worrying about causing damage to any surface. Butchers blocks can also keep a knife sharper than would a cutting board made of plastic. The key to the power of a butchers block lies in the construction, which uses individual pieces of wood glued together for greater strength and durability. There are two main ways to make a butchers block using this method: end-grain and flat-grain. End-grain is more expensive and gentler on knives, while flat-grain is cheaper and not as heavy.
Both kinds of butchers blocks are used to make items larger than a cutting board, such as a kitchen island or a kitchen counter, both of which can be used to cut meat. The lifespan of a butchers block can be extended with proper care and maintenance, including treating it with mineral oil and sanding it if it becomes weathered or stained. With the right care, a butchers block can last for many years while serving as a high-functioning tool.