If you’re like most home-cooks you have at least one alternate cutting surface in your kitchen, a place to safely chop your veggies, slice up barbecued meat and smash garlic.
You may even have a selection of boards or mats, each designated for a specific purpose, or maybe you do a lot of cooking and don’t always stop to clean one working space before needing another.
Cutting boards, a staple in any cook’s haven. There are numerous versions on the market to suit several culinary needs, and so many choices in fact, the buyer might feel overwhelmed with decision. This post will break down the various options available, and offer you my not so humble opinions on what’s the best board for a proper cook.
What are the options?
Thin plastic mats
Coming in at number one in my book is a good old-fashioned wooden cutting board. There is not another surface that reacts so finely with the cut of a knife and despite what many may believe, woodcutting boards are the most sanitary option. Wood has antimicrobial properties (that’s why picnic tables are made of wood), and with proper care, a wooden cutting board will last decades and provide the least risk of food born illness, or bacterial transfer to foods.
The one thing you won’t do with a wooden cutting board is put it in the dishwasher – that’s ruination. What you can do is an occasional light bleach wash , or simply dish soap and a scrubber brush for daily use. Truly, a hard wooden cutting board is my favorite option for cutting foods of all kinds.
Bamboo Cutting Boards
Bamboo is actually a sustainably grown grass, and an excellent option for a cutting board. Like wood, bamboo is microbe resistant and somewhat self-healing. It’s a good and inexpensive option, and comparable to harder woods for knife wellness.
Plastic Cutting Boards
If you can’t, or won’t buy wooden cutting boards then try thick plastic (I guess).
A basic white plastic cutting board will do in a home kitchen, and it’s what you often see in restaurants. What you will notice over time however, is that plastic is not self-healing like wood and your knife cuts will begin to harbor stains.
Those stains don’t just look bad, they are areas where the plastic has been compromised and is possibly contaminated with bacteria. Additionally, it means that knives have chipped away at the plastic and that plastic is now in your food. I believe a proper bleach bath is in order at least once a week for a plastic board, and thick versions can be sterilized in the dishwasher.
Though your cutting style will be similar to wood, the plastic giving and supporting the knife, it will not last as long as wood will – and you will end up spending money replacing your board.
Not so great options:
Thin plastic mats
First of all, why? Because we’ve all become germaphobes we now see a stack of color-coded mats in kitchens around the country. These thin floppy plastic sheets are meant to keep your foods “separate.” But riddle me this, after washing them, do you not store them all pressed up against each other in a drawer or on the counter? Right. It’s a marketing ploy.
Beyond that, thin plastic cutting sheets do not provide a great surface for cutting. For example, if you’re working on a tile counter top, you could be doing damage to your knives, and or at risk for slipping and cutting yourself. Beyond those problems, you’re still working on plastic and will end up needed to replace scratched mats. I wouldn’t waste my money on these, color-coded or not.
Glass Cutting Boards
WHY ARE YOU CUTTING ON GLASS? Can you hear me yelling, pulling my hair out, stomping my feet and pounding on my keyboard? Never mind the horrible clinking noise a knife makes when it lands on a glass cutting board, imagine how your knives feel having to endure this awful act? Though glass may be the easiest to clean, and most non-porous, it is not a safe or fun way to cook.
Who thought this up? Seriously, it’s like saying, “look at that window, let’s use it as a cutting board!” Bullocks. Skip the glass, and throw yours out if that’s what you’ve got now.