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HOW TO CARE FOR ANTIQUE CUTTING BOARDS

The epitome of utilitarian simplicity, antique cutting and bread boards are not just work-horses in your kitchen or on your table, these dynamos are decorative enough to bring French country charm to any room in your home.

Avidly collected, these attractive boards all have their own patina and personality, some are almost sculptural in design, while others are quite quirky.

Used in commercial bakeries as well as family homes all over France, the large boulangerie boards were used to transfer several loaves at once to and from the bread baking oven.

1850’s Bread Board

All of these boards have aged in their own discernible way, with darkening of the wood, splits here and there, repairs, sometimes oven burn marks. No two will ever be the same!

In small towns, each family had “their” own board, to be used when they brought their loaves to the village baker, who would bake several loaves at once for them in the large bakery oven. Some board still have remnants of the family name on them.

This antique large French Bread Board has a stunning time worn dark color. This board has wonderful signs of wear and cut marks, loads of character. A beautiful decorative addition to your French Country kitchen, the sheer size of these boards makes them a statement accent piece to display.

This board, in the large rectangular shape, was used to bring loaves of bread to and from the oven in a Parisian bakery. Darker and lighter areas, one side has some white paint splatters from that time that Henri finally painted the kitchen!

Rustic, hand made, often with two cross splines across the back which were there to reinforce the board and to resist warping. An antique board like this will add that certain je ne sais quoi to your French Country kitchen.

These large boards are perfect to serve bread and cheese, or an array of appetizers for entertaining guests.  The worn small boards are captivating in their own way too!

The antique cutting boards and bread boards have such beauty, their seasoned wood grows more beautiful with use and age. I often serve appetizers on one of our large boards, layering on cheese, meats, and breads and crackers around small dishes of artichokes and olives.

HERE’S HOW TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR ANTIQUE BOARDS.

1. CLEAN.
You will most likely want to  clean your antique board the first time it’s in your home. The best way to clean a board: sprinkle with coarse salt, and “scour” with half a lemon.  Allow this “paste” to linger on your board for about five minutes.

 

2. WIPE.   Wet a soft cloth with warm water, and wipe down the board surface thoroughly to remove the residue of lemon-salt mixture. Blot dry with a soft, clean cloth. Let your board sit out for a few hours {standing} to be sure that it is completely dry before doing the next step.

 

3. OIL. You can season and protect your antique boards by rubbing on a food-safe oil like mineral oil or beeswax, or use a special butcher block conditioner.  Simply squeeze a little oil on a clean, soft cloth and apply the oil to your board, following the grain of the wood.

Let dry, preferably overnight.  Repeat 3 times.  Then wipe your board down with another clean cloth or layers of paper towels to remove whatever oil was not absorbed in the wood.

 

Once you have cleaned and seasoned your antique board, it’s ready to be used!  After every use, all you need to do is wipe it with a clean cloth.  You can re-oil your boards as needed to maintain the wood.

 

DON’TS: Please don’t use bleach to clean your boards, this will dry out the wood. Don’t immerse your boards in water, either, as the wood will warp. And never, ever put a small board in the dishwasher! {I know, sounds obvious, but I’ve heard of people doing this.}

Antique French Bread and Cutting Boards for Sale

Keep your boards in an upright position in between use.  Antique French Boulangerie Boards are so beautiful you will want to show them off when not in use. I have a small stack of different sized boards next to my sink.

HOW TO SPOT A TRUE ANTIQUE BOARD:

A true antique board will have signs of use, which is what gives each board it’s own personality and character. Look for:

  1. Knife marks from years of cutting on the surface, on one or both of the sides. Most antique boards I find and sell from France have been used on only one side, but that depends on the owner, some used both sides of their boards.
  2. Darkening of the color on the side that was always used, or used more often.
  3. Little worm holes, or chips here and there from over a century of use.
  4. A worn spot in the center of the board and other signs that the board was used.

An antique boulangerie or cutting board is an artifact with a past, the more wear, the more stories it has to tell. Don’t shy away from marks, little parts missing, and darkening, this is why antique boards are more expensive than new ones. They have personality, and they have lived, it’s their patina that makes them an individual and interesting! Choose one that speaks to you, one you love. 

{p.s. All the boards I sell at FrenchGardenHouse have already been cleaned and oiled for you.}
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Shop for the best in French Antiques, furniture with the patina of age, vintage accessories to delight you and your family & friends, and French Country utilitarian pieces. Treasures that make your home fresh, beautiful, inspirational and uniquely yours. Visit our shop FrenchGardenHouse.com.

23 Responses to HOW TO CARE FOR ANTIQUE CUTTING BOARDS

  1. Thank you so much for this informative post on caring for antique cutting boards. I was wondering if the same cleaning/oiling process would work for an antique dough bowl?
    Teddi Sue Wilson

  2. Thanks so much for this valuable info this morning. I love my breadboards and want them to last at least another 100 years! They are such versatile little things.

  3. Thank you for the care instructions for the cutting boards. As a young bride I put a wooden cutting board in the dishwasher…..luckily it was not an antique !!

  4. What gorgeous pictures. I like some of my things to be shiny and new, but I also have some wonderful treasures that like these boards are just beautiful.

  5. I needed this information. I’ve always been sorry cheese stained my antique bread board.
    I would love to have one of the large boards. Maybe one day.

  6. Charlotte Coleman says she would like own one or two of the French cutting boards. When I do get some, now I know how to take ca r e of them.
    5/16/17

  7. Thank you for sharing the cleaning instructions. I have a wooden cutting board that has been in my family for 60+ years. Now, I can use and enjoy it and still be able to pass it on to the next generation.

  8. Thank you for the instructions to properly clean my cutting boards. I know they will look much better.

  9. Shirley, the true antique boards will have cut marks, and often old “worm holes”, if neither of these are present, then they are either new, or have been completely re-sanded {and stripped of their patina!}

  10. Gloria, unlike me, antique cutting boards don’t require very much maintenance! 😉

  11. I am so glad you posted this about the cutting boards. I have acquired old boards from family members long gone and worried about using them. Now I know how to restore them. Also, when we go antique shopping I will not hesitate to purchase old ones I like. I love your website, thank you for the information.

  12. Great advice and gorgeous photos as always Lidy….I use the salt and lemon on my new cutting boards as someone told me that the lemon/salt combination was a good anti-bacterial…and I hesitate to spend lots of money on a potential antique bread board as I am skeptical sometimes on the true age of it. So many reproductions out there….Have a wonderful week!!!

  13. Lidy, I have a very large round board where the seams have become loose. Would it be alright to glue it back together with wood glue or should I leave it as is. Thank you so much for your article, just what I wanted to know.

  14. Kathryn,

    It really just depends on what you want it for. If you just display your board, it doesn’t really matter much.
    If your board needs to be a little sturdy, you could glue the seams, although purists would probably leave
    the board as is. If your board has a cross bar on the back, perhaps add a small nail or two?

  15. Very helpful information as always. Thank you, Lidy. The boards you have are wonderful. An antique bread board is on my wish list now.

  16. I oil all of my wooden spoons at the same time as I oil my cutting board, then you can leave the spoons to season right on top of your board. Thanks for all of the great posts. Please enter me into the drawing.
    Thanks, Denise

  17. I’m thrilled you told me about the coarse salt and lemon wedge treatment – as I do like to buy old wooden boards (not always antique)and feel I want them to have a ‘fresh start’ in my kitchen. Well used wood has such beauty and honesty it’s almost personal. Thanks Lidy! <3 Jeanne

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