The Cutting Board – Which Type is Best?
Cutting boards are one of the biggest controversies, next to what brand of knife is best. When it comes to knives, there is no pat answer, because it depends on individual needs and desires. The cutting board is not so convoluted; but there are still some choices that are individual here as well. And there are some standards that should be followed.
There are all kinds of cutting boards out there. There are all kinds of questions that need to be asked and answered. Especially if you are purchasing your very first board.
- Wood, glass, plastic, bamboo, and a made up word epicurean (the company name)?
- Stiff or flexible?
- Thin or thick?
- Cheap or expensive?
- Stain resistant?
- Odor resistant?
- Knife friendly?
- What is the maintenance level?
- Do I need handles?
- Do I need a “liquid catcher” for raw meat juices?
Each has its own pros and cons. Each person has their own idea about what one is best, but there are some standards that most cooks/chefs follow when it comes to choosing a cutting board, or multiple cutting boards.
I have to admit, I have several different styles of cutting boards. Probably way too many according to most people. But hey, I like to cook! I love my kitchen! It’s my choice, and I am sticking with it!
I have a wood one that highlights where my family heritage is. It’s a good reminder of who I am. Aheirloom is a company that does custom cutting boards. There are other companies that make custom boards, but this is where my personal one came from. I actually use it just for display, because I don’t want to mess it up. But that doesn’t mean I don’t take care of it.
I have a set of Epicurean cutting boards to prevent cross contamination. It is a set of four, one for fish, one for red meat, one for poultry, and one for veggies and fruits. This particular set has written on it which is which, but many brands (especially the flexible ones) are color coded, blue for sea, yellow for poultry, green for veggies and red for meat. This is the set I use on a daily basis. I used to have plastic ones, but they got destroyed rather quickly because the EX didn’t wash them, and they harbored bad smells.
Then I have my glass cutting board. It has a design of a vinyl record on it. Do you even know what that is? A vinyl record? This one I purchased to go with the theme of the kitchen, courtesy of Retroplanet. I don’t use this one as a cutting board, but I do use it to hold ingredients during prep. It would look good as a cheese plate as well.
I have a marble cutting board (a huge slab, really) that is used specifically for pastry dough creations.
And then of course, I have the BEAST. The butcher block. This is the base of my kitchen island. I use this for my preparation of all my foods, the space for all my kitchen gadgets, for mixing bread on, occasionally using to cut on.
- Wood – it’s the classic, from way before I was born. The first butcher block came into existence in 1880.
- Glass, Marble, Steel – variations around probably as long as wood.
- Plastic – came of age in the 70s.
- Bamboo – Fairly new (early 2000s), green, ecological.
- Epicurean – New process (2003).
Here is my take on the different materials that are currently available for the average diy home goddess. I hope this helps in determining the differences between the multitude of cutting boards available for sale.
If You Want to Go
- Cheap – plastic
- Contamination free – multiple plastic
- Green or eco-friendly – bamboo
- Classic – wood
- Long Lasting – wood
- Save your knives – wood, epicurean
- Washable – plastic, epicurean
- Nonporous – plastic, epicurean
- Handles – plastic (OXO Good Grips) or wood
How Many Do I Need?
You should have at least two boards, one for raw meats, and one for fruits, vegetables, and breads. Yes, you can mix and match the different types of boards for your different cooking abilities. You can tell by the pictures and my story that yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus (me) who has shown you all the boards you desire.
- Use hot water and soap if washing it by hand. Dry immediately, with a towel, and set aside to completely dry, just like you would with your good knives.
- If you have wood cutting boards, you need to condition it with oil 6 times a year. Use any kind of edible oil, mineral oil, or just go to any place that sells kitchen stuff, and they will have it. Spread it on the wood with a soft cloth, rubbing it in with the grain of the wood. Get the top and all the sides. Let it sit for like half an hour, then wipe with another clean cloth to pull off the excess, again going with the grain of the wood.
- Certain ones can be thrown in the dishwasher.
- You can disinfect it with a very diluted bleach solution. I have never done it, but you can.
- If you have purchased a bamboo cutting board, keep an eye on it for furriness. That is the wearing down of the material. It needs to get replaced when it starts to look kind of fuzzy.
- Plastic ones will need to be replaced the most frequently. If it starts to smell, get rid of it! If it is warping too much, get rid of it! If the plastic is starting to flake or break off, get rid of it!
Getting Rid of Unnecessary Cutting Boards
What are you supposed to do with those fabulous glass and marble cutting boards you got as wedding presents?
- Use them as serving trays.
- Use them as decor in the kitchen or dining room.
- Marble? Use it to practice how to make pastry crusts.
- Mise en place station. Remember that from Top Chef Lesson 1-3?
- Put them on your bar with a cheap knife to cut lemons and limes with.