|Chopping boards for healthy living|
In meat shops all over India, butchers still use a tree stump, usually from the Neem (Azadirachta indica) tree as a butcher's block. There is a reason for this: end grain wood self-heals and lasts a long time. Moreover, the natural oils in the wood of trees such as Neem are anti-bacterial.
There has been a shift towards plastic chopping boards in recent times because they are easier to clean and handle. However, they seem to have a problem: knife cuts scour deep fine lines on the plastic which can get clogged with minute quantities of food matter.
Even a minute quantity of food matter lodged inside the fine cuts in a chopping board will spoil and breed moulds and bacteria, including toxic ones that could cause chronic digestive ailments.
This is one reason many people today are going back to using wooden chopping boards particularly the end-grain ones, which are very durable and inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi.
I have gone back to using wooden chopping boards but never got around to making an end grain board. I used regular Pine for making my kitchen boards which is not such a bad alternative.
Recently, I picked up a thick cross section of Neem which I decided to turn into a chopping board. Some of the cracks required filling with epoxy and the bark had to be taken off. The top and sides were smoothed by several hours of serious sanding.
|Filling cracks with epoxy|
|After a lot of sanding|
|Paraffin - a food safe oil|
I attached four rubber pads in the base to and finished it with Paraffin Oil purchased at the local chemist. Paraffin oil has medicinal uses and is food safe. A bottle costs about Rs 150. I allowed the oil to soak in and dry in the sun for a few hours. It was then ready for use.
My wife was somewhat unnerved by the appearance of this rather large chopping board (three inches thick and two feet at its widest). She argued it would be difficult to move around but I assured her she would get used to it.
In retrospect it does seem rather large and takes up quite a bit of counter space. But the good thing is it will probably last us a lifetime!
12 January 2018