Protecting my chopping boards from black mould using garlic

I did a search a while back about mouldy chopping boards, specifically black mould which seems to particularly target wooden boards. I came across this post by the frugal girlabout how to how to get rid of black cutting board mildew. This confirmed my suspicion that it was mildew, but that brings up a whole heap of issues for followers of Leviticus. Thankfully I don't follow Leviticus.

But I do have a mould problem. Dr K has a small chopping board which became 'infected' a long while ago back in Southampton, I suspect as a result of having been left standing in stagnant water around the kitchen sink. I took action to try and save the board by chopping off the lower section where all the black was visible plus a buffer zone of about a centimetre for good measure. I lovingly rounded the cut edge to match it with the old edges.

. © Nick Bailey
black mould creeping through the board.

However the mould came back. It took a while, but gradually the blackness reappeared at the bottom of the board which I had cut. I tried again to slice off the bottom to eradicate the problem, but yet again the blackness returned. What I realised is that the black mould was already far within the heart of the wood and travelling up the cell structure long before appearing on the surface, so the whole piece was probably infected deeply rending this board unsalvageable. So I have now retired this board from active use in order to isolate it from my other boards to prevent cross infection.

. © Nick Bailey
The board after the second reduction.

I have other chopping boards which are very precious to me. In fact one of these has just celebrated it's tenth birthday. When I first got this board I was so impressed with it that I started buying it as a wedding gift (which I thought was quite a nice gift) as it should last a lifetime or perhaps two. They are simply a thick slice of tree, in the round, Chinese style. I was fed up with the plethora of crap block-work chopping boards which are simply glued together and as such almost designed to fail with time.

As a result of the preciousness of these boards, and in an attempt to see them though my lifetime I decided to take pre-emptive action against the mould by implementing an approach that I have no idea the effectiveness of. I remember from a Gardeners' World last year that the application of Garlic juice to trees - almost as an intravenous drip - is being trialled, with some success, as a treatment for various diseases. So with this in mind I augmented my usual oiling procedure (which I do about every time I remember to) by rubbing the oil in with half a garlic clove as an applicator rather than my finger as I was using previously. The next time I tried this I actually rubbed raw garlic into the board before the oil, forcing the natural garlic oil into the grain of the wood. It took about two cloves per side, and seemed reasonable effective at 'wetting' the board with garlic. Then rubbing in the oil with the clove provides a further garlic application. As I say, I have no idea to the effectiveness of this approach, but seeing as I use the boards for garlic frequently in the first place, I felt that the addition of some extra garlic could not hurt and should only help I hope.

. © Nick Bailey
one of my lovely Chinese chopping boards - simply a slice of tree

. © Nick Bailey
large garlic cloves halved

. © Nick Bailey
raw garlic cloves rubbed into the grain of the wood

. © Nick Bailey
olive oil then rubbed in with the cloves

Oh I do love garlic. Have a go and try it yourself. I guess as a real test I could attempt to garlic-ify the already mouldy board and see if it stemmed the mould. Hmmm, perhaps I might give that a go...

2015-09-23