The kitchen is one of the most important parts of a house. It’s simply because we need food daily and buying outdoors isn’t always a good idea. It can be a hassle on a lazy rainy Sunday morning to get out of your PJ’s and comfort zone when you’ve been doing that majority of the week for work.
Imagine yourself craving for a Clubhouse Burger, but with more tomato, less lettuce, added zucchini… and what if you want to put potatoes too? Unfortunately, not all restaurants or stores offer those value-added services. Not to mention that it will also be limited in terms of quality and actual taste to suit your mood in the moment. Cooking however, allows that flexibility and versatility to come so long as you’re prepared with the ingredients.
However, despite the comfort of our own homes, we do not come often as prepared as we should be. Like ingredients, we need to get ourselves to the supermarket and choose the best ingredients from the lot. We need the quality we paid for after all.
For the same reason, there are some kitchen utensils that tend to be neglected as they seem not to matter- much like extras in movies. To give the best example of that is the cutting board. It’s simply a plastic or wooden board that’s tolerable of a blade, pretty much it. They have the short end of the stick. We soak them in water for hours, let meat, and fruits, and anything else stain more than we should, not to mention how we tend to let them be of service just because they still look usable. To put it short, It’s not a do or die part of cooking a meal, so why bother investing?
But in reality, it’s not a small part of cooking meals. Restaurants even have specific cutting boards for specific purposes. One for raw meat, one for seafood, one for veggies and fruits, one for dairy, and one for cooked meat. There are multiple reasons, three of which are catering to a specific consumer, such as vegetarians, preventing cross contamination between ingredients, and the ease of convenience.
Below is a short series of guide for your cutting board knowledge.
Tble of Contents
- Wood cutting board
- Butcher Block cutting board
- Plastic cutting board
- Bamboo cutting boards
- Glass, marble and slate cutting boardsboards
- Sizes of cutting board
- Choosing the cutting board size
- Kitchen Cutting board
- Best cutting board options
- Cleaning Your Cutting board
Wooden cutting boards are often chosen due to its self-healing and antiseptic capabilities. Shallow cuts made by knives will close up by themselves. Besides the use for cutlery, these wooden boards are also a great touch for food photography.
The grains of the wood influence how to make choices for cutting board materials while the hardness of the wood also affects how effective a specific material is as a cutting board’s wood.
Red oak for example, despite being a solid wood, has large pores. This makes it retain dirt and liquid in its surface, even after cleaning, sometimes it can be a bad choice of material for a cutting board. This makes hardwoods with tightly grained wood and small pores as the best material for wooden cutting boards.
A highly sought after option for wood is Teak, a tropical wood. It contains tectoquinones which is a component that contains oily resins that resist humidity,microbes warping and fungi. Teak also has tight grains and natural coloration, which make it become a highly attractive material for its aesthetics and durability.
The harder the wood and tighter grains help reduce scarring of the surface and absorption of dirt and liquid that may promote bacteria. This somehow requires wooden cutting boards to contain both characteristics to be considered as a good kitchen choice.
Butcher block or butcher’s block has been commonly used in butcher shops for centuries, thus, its name. To date, there are still many European countries who use it. It is also used in some domestic kitchens as an alternative to stone and laminated countertops.
Butcher block is a style of assembled wood used as a heavy duty chopping block, cutting boards, table tops, and countertops. There are two basic styles for butcher block, the edge grain and the end grain. Both of which have their own pros and cons.
Edge grain absorbs more and takes less wood to make a board so it’s more cost-effective. End grain butcher blocks are cut in a specific orientation which allows its fibers to open up and “accept” the knife’s edge, which makes it easier on the edge. This makes it “self-healing” to some degree.
Plastic boards are usually called PE cutting boards or Polyethylene cutting boards, or HDPE or High-density Polyethylene plastic, the material used to make these boards. There are two types of HDPE boards being made. The injection-molded plastic, and the one that comes from an extrusion line.
Several certifications are present for plastic boards, one being NSF. NSF certifies that the plastic to be used has passed specific requirements to do no harm when in contact with food.
Unlike wood, plastic has no self-healing capabilities. But despite that, it allows harsher cleaning and rinsing even with the use of bleach and other disinfectants. Since most plastic cutting boards are non-porous, it doesn’t absorb nor retain water and bacteria compared to wood.
Bamboo cutting boards are commonly thought to be naturally antimicrobial, thus is typically used as an alternative to plastic or glass cutting boards. During the harvesting process, bamboo is carefully selected for maturation, marking and size. The stalks of the chosen bamboo are cut into sizes and sent through a pressing process that makes it into smaller flat and plank-like pieces. Cutting boards can be produced from these multiple pieces through lamination.
Bamboos are considered low maintenance woods due to its hard density. It resists water absorption and penetration which as a result, will not easily warp or crack as other types of wood. To add to that, bamboos are one of the fastest growing plants which makes it an easy resource.
Glass cutting boards are convenient for washing due to its surface compared to wood and even plastic cutting boards. However, due to its high hardness, it can easily damage knives. Cutting on glass tends to dent, roll, chip or dull a knife fast. Glass can also shatter or chip itself when used for chopping instead of slicing which can be harmful for the food.
Another down side of glass boards is the noise created when the knife hits its surface akin to fingernails on a chalkboard. It’s typically better to save your glass and marble boards for kneading and aesthetics.
There’s no such thing as the right size of cutting board as it is entirely subjective to the person who’s going to use it. Companies, however, have created standard sizes for basic use. This goes from 12 x 18 inches, 15 x 20 inches to the bigger 18 x 24 inches. However, custom sizes are sometimes offered as well.
As mentioned, the size of cutting board fully depends on what the person aims and plans. Here are some notes to help you determine what’s best for you.
1.Where are you keeping it?
Do you plan on placing it in a drawer under the sink? Leave it on your countertop daily? If you want to keep it away from public view, it’s best to go for the smaller sizes for easy keeping. But if you don’t mind having your cutting board sit on your counter daily, then opting for a bigger one is no problem.
2.How big is your sink?
Typically, you want your cutting board to fit your sink properly flat for easy washing. But if you don’t mind the slight hassle of a slanted cutting board for its sanitary requirements, then it’s okay to go for a slightly bigger option.
3.What would you often use it for?
For obvious reasons, you need to take into account what you plan to use this cutting board for. Some have a variety of boards in their household for specific purposes, so you need to think about what you’re going to use it for. Generally, if you plan to use the board for slicing big parts meat instead of buying pre-sliced ones, it might be a better option to go for the bigger sizes for convenience.
Choosing a cutting board is easy if you’re aiming for an all-around board. But if you want to save your knives and deal with an easy chopping and cutting lifestyle, choosing a specific board made for specific purposes is going to be heaven sent.
Meat cutting boards
If you do a lot of carving, purchasing a Chef’s carving board is a good purchase since its blood gutter will save your kitchen top and possibly the floor. You need to take note that juices coming from our meat might seep into your board, so choosing wood might not be the best option depending on the situation.
Bread and vegetable cutting boards
There are bread-specific cutting boards designed especially for dealing with crumbs and tiny bits. It’s usually a matter of hardwood slats above a removable crumb box or tray. If you cut a lot of bread daily, it’s convenient to have the crumbs fall through the slats for easy disposal or usage as bread crumbs.
Cheese cutting boards
Cheese cutting boards come in different sizes and purpose. Some cheese cutting boards even come in sets that goes with slicers, graters, and even cheese cutting knives. Some opt for ceramic boards due to aesthetics, but the noise it makes when you cut in them is also something to notice. Choosing to serve cheese with a wooden plate or board is ideal for serving a large number of guests.
Choosing the best cutting board is again, subjective. It depends on where you plan to use it, how you handle it, how much you love your knives, and how much you’re willing to invest. Each has its own pros and cons. However, proven to experience, some brands do stand out from the others in terms of multiple aspects.
Wood by far is the most popular cutting board. Not only is it beautiful in terms of aesthetics, but it’s also a nice pair for the health of your knives. Plastic cutting boards are also next to wood as option as they are light and can easily go in the dishwasher. Glass and marble, besides aesthetics on the other hand, are ideal for easy sanitation despite the sound it makes when in use.
There is a varied selection of different types of boards, each has its own advantages and disadvantages. In the end, knowing what the perfect cutting board for you will be based on your own experience and handling.
Each type of cutting board has a different characteristic so you need to handle each differently. Below are general tips on how to manage sanitation of your cutting boards.
- Plastic cutting boards can be easily placed in dishwashers, but wood ones will be damaged.
- Scrub cutting boards with soap and water to take off anything from its surface to its scores and grooves.
- Sanitizing cutting boards vary from the type of board. Plastic cutting boards may work with bleach, but for wood cutting boards, quaternary ammonium sanitizer such as a diluted solution of Mr. Clean is an option.
- Replacing your cutting board should be regular. At some point, scrubbing and sanitizing might not be enough, especially when your cutting board has acquired multiple deep grooves from repeated use. However, wood cutting boards on the other hand can be easily refurbished with minor woodwork such as sanding.
- Glass and ceramic cutting boards are easier to deal with in terms of cleaning since you can easily wipe off dirt due to its smooth surface and material.
Cutting boards, though, are gently ignored, is a must in a busy kitchen. It requires just as much attention and care from choosing it to caring for it. Ideally, the best basis for choosing the perfect cutting board is simply experience, but surely, each type has its own up and down side.
Wood cutting boards are the most popular choice, but they tend to require timely maintenance to make sure grooves do not make a haven for liquid, dirt and bacteria. However, due to its self-healing and antiseptic capabilities, it makes up for its regular oiling and manual washing. They are also great if aesthetics matter to you a lot.
Plastic cutting boards are also a good option in terms of usage as it can be washed easier with the help of a dishwasher, or can be intensely scrubbed and sanitized manually. Since it contains no grooves similar to wood, it has nowhere to contain bacteria and other substances that can be harmful to the food.
Glass, marble and slates on the other hand reign in terms of easy cleaning, but due to its hardness, it can easily wear of, dent, and even chip knives. They can still be of great use to other kitchen activities, however such as kneading doughs and the likes.
Bamboo cutting boards are a blessing due to its easy resource and ability to be pliable. They resist water containment, is low in maintenance and has a hard density to tolerate cutting and chopping of different ingredients.
Cleaning your cutting boards can be a breeze depending on its type. But due to the differences in characteristics, each one requires and allows limited ways of handling, such as plastic being allowed for dishwashers, but wood cutting boards are not. On the other hand, wood boards are more high maintenance while glass and marbles are a breeze due to its smooth surface.
Choosing the best cutting board can be weighed down with pros and cons depending on the situation. By doing so, you are able to know which cutting board would work best for your lifestyle. Hearing out friends and relatives regarding their opinions can also help as they can see and gauge what type of cooking you highly indulge in. After all, cutting boards are also an investment and its worth putting effort and time to figure out which one works best for you.