How to Choose the Best Cutting Board
This article is a basic guide but surely a lot of novices will need in your very first step getting acquainted to cooking and filling your own kitchen. It should have been me posting collection of the best cutting boards classified in specific categories. But, during searching, trying and looking for the best models, I found that a lot of people are admittedly overwhelmed of where to start.
Your ambitious kitchen projects can’t be completed if there’s no good cutting boards. Might you wonder that “Is it hard to find out the best cutting boards?”, “Is it just going to Walmart or searching somewhere and click the buy button?”.
Truth to say, when I was a beginner, these questions were swinging in my mind a lot and finally, found myself the answers through my friends that are also master chefs.
Might you still have no idea of what to choose at the present, I assure you that “IT’S TRULY EASY”. So, in this article, not only do I give you three key features to consider, but also share some reliable brands that are worth trying.
What is the best cutting board material?
Though there’s an avalanche of cutting boards out there on the market, in terms of material, there are four main group:
But wood seems to be the most various to be worth more consideration because woods are divided into different kinds and styles, such as maple, bamboo, walnut, edge grain and end grain.
What are they and which is suitable for you?
Great question! Due to many experts, amongst various ranges of material, wood and plastic are the most popular. But in terms of performance, nobody can’t deny that wood boards bring a better feeling than the plastic under a knife.
However, there’s an interesting fact based on our interview of roughly 100 customers asking about which one is their favorite – the wood or the plastic. There are two flows of ideas. While the master chefs prefer a wood blocks to cut on, the novices like to buy a plastic board.
It’s said that the plastic boards are the most sanitary material in cutting boards. Can’t deny the fact that they are super easy to maintain, just throwing them into a dishwasher and done! (unlike the bamboo or wood blocks, they are prone to get dirt, mold and stuff like that)
This fact is luckily fitting the demands and requirements of these modern days within the hustle lifestyle, which is understandable for the reason many young or novices like this type of cutting board.
Besides, they are durable and affordable, even if you throw it out after a couple of years of use, the product is still an excellent option.
When looking for the best plastic cutting boards, go for either polypropylene or polyethylene. Cutting mats are also not a bad idea. And the best thing is that they come in a set of 3-5 mats in different colors to distinct for veggies, meat and so on.
But, you should know that with superficial cleaning job, your plastic board even gets more bacteria on its surface than those wooden – based on a study by University of Michigan and one by the University of Wisconsin.
Not saying that hardly a knife-scarred plastic board can be cleaned thoroughly or disinfect completely (though a new one is greatly disinfected).
Besides, some people, especially the professionals said that they don’t like the noise of these plastic boards. Besides, they tend to dull their knives more quickly than the wooden. And, you can sand a wood block while it’s impossible on the plastic.
So now, let’s see what a wood cutting board can give you:
Wood cutting boards, on the other hand, are more forgiving the gouge marks and cuts from knives as they are a renewable resource to self-heal over time.
Their heavy weight and thickness are two controversial features as though they are more cumbersome to carry around as well as taking up more space for storage in your cupboard, they are much quieter while working on compared to the plastic boards.
When it comes to choosing the best wood cutting boards, many master chefs advise to go for heavy softwood models as they will keep knives sharper longer. But, be aware of the fact that there are avalanche of numerous shapes, styles and wood grains.
Just in terms of materials, we have walnut, pecan, teak and cherry.
But, what is the best wood to use for a cutting board?
By far, the most favorite material to make wood cutting board is maple. But why?
Maple is found abundantly in North America like Canada and upper Midwest. It’s highly appreciated for its great shock and damage resistance as well as its good performance in sanitary and clean to be one of the safest options for cutting board making.
In fact, this is a perfect choice to avoid bacterial growth in food preparation so, chefs aren’t shying away from it anymore.
Maple, it is not only beautiful and lightweight to add beauty to your cooking area, but also sustainable and strong to serve perfectly any ambitious kitchen projects. Along with that, they are really affordable!
Maple is also approved officially by NSF (stands for National Sanitation Foundation) to use in commercial kitchen accessories. A typical example of kitchen tool maker specialized in maple cutting boards is John Boos.
If you are fed up with the old same disaster of your knives getting dull so quickly on other types of wood cutting boards, this maple won’t be the one. they are the closed grain hard wood which aren’t too hard for your knives.
Other common and recommended wood is Walnut.
Like maple, they are knife-friendly hard wood to keep it sharpen longer. But this wood is ranged in more luxury than the maple as they come in more beautiful performance. So, if aesthetic is the main factor into this, Black Walnut is worth considering. It adds really nice color and grain variation to the cutting boards leading to the result of a distinctive and elegant work of art.
But don’t underestimate its quality, black walnut is highly appreciated for its durability and safety alongside with its beauty.
Other than walnut and maple wood for cutting boards, some other worth-considering woods are cherry, chestnut, and beech.
Teak is also common as well as good at water and decay resistance, but I don’t highly recommend because their texture is too hard for your expensive knives.
Besides, those grain woods like ash and oak should be avoided, either because they contain so many pours to harbor pieces and bits of food preparation, which is a great habitant for mold and bacteria.
Lastly, also stay away from tropical varieties that contain toxins and provide good habit for microbial life or insects when the weather gets warmer.
Despite of such great benefits, once deciding to choose a wood cutting board, you need to understand that it only lasts long, like decades if you spend time giving proper maintenance to it.
Regularly oil wood boards with food-grade mineral oil to keep it stay away from warping or staining. AND, never put your board into a dishwasher or soak it in water overnight.
Now, apart from materials, wood boards are also classified in style. Basically, there are two: edge grain and end grain.
To know which one is suitable for your demands, let’s dive deeply into them.
What is an end grain cutting board?
Many people misunderstand that edge grain and end grain are the same because of their similar look. However, if paying closer attention, you’ll see the difference.
In terms of performance, end grain always gets higher appreciation. But, why is end grain cutting board better?
In comparison, the end grain is much expensive because they are frequently made out of a couple of board ends that are glued together to provide gentler performance on your knives. Whereas, they tend to dry out more quickly to prevent crack or stain better.
But, here’s where the real fun begins: The grain of wood can go up and down, which means while cutting on it, the board pushes its bundle of straws apart. BUT then, they come back together and are described as “self-healing”.
Moreover, amongst different types of cutting boards, they dull the knives at least.
For those who are looking for a cutting board in daily use, go for an end grain made of hardwoods like maple, walnut and cherry. Large size is priority!
However, if you are looking for a good cutting board for restaurant, wood should be out because there’s not enough time to sanitize it properly to get the health inspector approval.
But, keep in mind two things: Never soaking it in the sink overnight and Never throwing it in the dishwasher. Instead, use a solution of lemon/vinegar and salt to wipe and scrub the board. Soap and water is fine, but kindly remember to dry it thoroughly.
My favorite end grain board is from John Boos. But if you have tighter budget, Madeira is worth considering.
In terms of the edge grain, it is prone to clean as well as withstands moisture-based splitting and cracking more efficiently.
In comparison, I rank this type above the plastic cutting boards, but below the end grain as it takes less time, material and effort to make than the end grain.
Despite its affordable price, these edge grain tend to easily split where glued as well as get cut with knives’ marks. That means you will need to sand the board down and re-oil it more frequently.
However, for home use as a butcher board, edge grain is the best selection.
There’re a lot of people misunderstanding that bamboo is a wood. However, it’s an evergreen perennial flowering plant that joins in grass family Poaceae.
This hard grass amazes many environmentalists not only by its super eco-friendly texture, but also the sustainable and renewable ability.
In comparison, bamboo cutting boards absorb less water than the wood to give better sanitary.
But take note that bamboo is arguably 19% harder than the maple resulting in being harder on your expensive knives and interrupting a smooth cutting action.
This kind of board works best on small chopping tasks. Just remember to choose the ones using glues without formaldehyde.
Is a glass cutting board good?
My answer is absolute no. Whichever kind you choose, hard or soft steel, expensive or cheap, glass cutting boards all make your precious kitchen knives dull quickly in a blink of eyes. Not saying that they chip on the glass surface.
This option is only suitable for those focus more on design than function. You might find it in some houses, but in general, it’s not used for cooking tasks.
But the worst is their sounds. I’m not boasting but once you hear it, 100% your neck hairs will stand up.
Truth to say, I really don’t understand why they produce glass and stone cutting boards.
They are too fragile to bear cuts or chops. Besides, their extremely hard surface will surely damage your knives. If you intend to use it for pastry work, then welcome. But compared to the price and heavy weight, it’s not worth it!
In brief, three highly-recommended types of cutting boards you should go to are plastic, wood and bamboo. Depending on your specific cooking habit, let’s consider the best one.
It’s really impotent when you already prepare all ingredients you need and a good knife, but your cutting board is the way too small to handle all of them. So, after picking the right type of board, let’s take its dimensions into consideration!
First up, think about which type of foods you usually cut with a cutting board. Are they small items like berries and lemons, or big ones like a bunch of veggies or watermelon.
Next up, consider the size of your kitchen knives. For example, if you are using a 8” chef knife, your cutting board should be at least 12” size.
Never go for a smaller-sized board for the jobs, because you will regret it later.
Which brands to buy?
Though there are hundreds of good cutting board makers, two brands you should take priority are Epicurean and Boos.
Epicurean cutting board
You definitely make a big smile to know that Epicurean is an America-based company. Their products are highly appreciated for highest durability and non-porous ability. On top of that, they are food-friendly and dishwasher safe.
In other words, Epicurean cutting boards come in a perfect compromise of eco-friendly and great performance. They also help you save money on sharpening knives because the material is truly knife-friendly.
Another compliment for their heat resistance, Epicurean wood material can bear the heat up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, leaving you no worry of blemish to work on.
Boos cutting board
Next is Boos! I mean John Boos & Co.
Compared to the Epicurean, Boos takes the advantage of strong experience in making cutting boards. With over 100 years adapting to the markets, Boos solidly nails their brand as where customers can get high quality wood and plastic cutting boards. But the most outstanding is maple cutting wood and commercial butcher block tops.
Though I highly recommend Epicurean and Boos as two well-known and reliable brands for cutting boards, I don’t mean their products are always excellent as you need to consider other features, like the dimensions or materials. In this article, I won’t talk about must-try products but updating particular collection with detailed reviews later. You can find them on the Cutting Board Category in my blog.
Wish you find out the best cutting board for your kitchen. If there’s something not on this site and you need my help, don’t hesitate to leave it in the comment section below.
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