Which kitchen cutting board should you buy?

Which kitchen cutting board should you buy?

Edge grain wooden cutting board. Picture credit: flickr.com/ Michael Downing

Anybody who is a bit serious about cooking will rave about what kind of cutting board he or she is using. Professional chefs can never do without good cutting boards. 

But why the fuss over cutting boards? After all, it is just a piece of wood or plastic meant to cut vegetables or meat. Ask anyone who is passionate about cooking and the answer will be that it is an important piece of kitchen equipment.

Using a good quality cutting board is particularly important if one has an expensive chef knife or any other such high-quality knife. Using a plastic cutting board or any cheap wooden board tends to dull the edge of the knife.

There is one other problem with plastic cutting boards. A study at the University of Michigan showed that there are more bacteria on the surface of a plastic board than a wooden one. The study added that it would be very difficult to disinfect plastic boards that had marks left by knife overuse. This is in contrast to most of us who would think that a wooden or bamboo board is an organic material and there would be more germs on these surfaces.

A bamboo cutting board is the next best option. They are pretty cheap as compared to wooden boards. This makes them pretty popular because they look better in the kitchen too. But there is a problem with bamboo too. It is much harder than some woods like maple and tends to dull the blades.

Bamboo cutting board. Picture credit: pixabay.com/ BRRT

However, in India, the exotic maple or walnut boards may not be easy to find. Teak wood boards are fairly common in India. Moreover, teak is known to be durable because of its natural resistance to moisture. It is also not very hard on the knife edge.

Teak cutting boards can be expensive but will last a lifetime if bought from a reputed brand and cared for properly. For instance, any wooden board will have to be dried thoroughly after use. If this is not done, there is every chance of it getting ruined quickly.

There are chopping boards that are cut out of a single piece of wood, but these might be prone to cracking or warping over time.

However, there are two other types of wooden boards that are made of wood pieces glued together – end grain and edge grain.

End grain boards are made from small pieces of wood glued together. The finished board looks like a chequerboard because the pieces are the ends of bigger wood pieces. The fibres of the wood pieces have the tendency to close up and not leave knife marks after the cutting is done. This leaves fewer marks on the board and is gentler on the knife edge. These boards can be expensive.

Edge grain boards are long pieces of wood glued in a parallel manner. These are much cheaper than end grain boards but will be durable if cared for properly. However, these boards tend to dull the knife edge faster than end grain boards.

Whether it is bamboo or wood, neglecting to care for the boards will definitely ruin them.

Wooden boards need to be clean all the time and neglecting to dry them after each use will spoil the wood. Leaving wooden boards in the sink or in a wet environment will again destroy them.

Apart from drying, oiling the board at regular intervals will keep it from drying and prevent the pieces from splitting.

While using regular cooking oil seems the logical step, there are better options like using food grade mineral oil, beeswax, a mixture of rice and coconut and carnauba wax among others. Special board oils are also available in the market.

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