Making a salad requires some chopping and slicing of ingredients on cutting boards, of which there are many to choose from. The most popular ones are made from wood, bamboo, plastic, acrylic and glass.
Each type has its pros and cons, mostly related to issues involving cleaning & sterilizing, maintenance, and the wear and tear on your kitchen knives.
Whichever board you choose, it's important to keep it clean and in good shape to avoid any contamination of food coming into contact with it.
Scrubbing your board with hot soapy water is a must and should be done immediately after use. To avoid Cross Contamination it's advisable to keep a separate board for cutting raw meats, poultry and seafood. This ensures that no bacteria from uncooked meat juices will come in contact with cooked meats or raw vegetables.
For more information on safety, cleaning and maintenance see This Page on Board Care.
Wood boards are generally thought to be the best of the cutting board options available. They are easier on kitchen knives than other types, can last forever with the proper care, and are an attractive addition to your kitchen.
Most wooden cutting boards are made of hardwoods, usually maple. There are 3 types to choose from with the difference being in the way the wood is cut and assembled. the 3 types are end grain, edge grain and flat grain.
The easiest way to explain the difference between the 3 is to think of a piece of 2x4. When you stand it up on end and look down on the end of it you are looking at the end grain. This is the strongest point to put weight on.
If you lay it on its edge, you are looking down at the edge grain. This is not as strong as the end but will still hold fairly well.
Lay it on its side and you will look down on the side grain. Putting weight on the flat side will cause the board to bend.
This applies to cutting boards: End grain boards are the strongest and resist warping the most. Edge grain boards are lighter but still quite strong. Flat grain boards are weak and warp easily so are not recommended.
End Grain Boards are made by gluing small pieces of wood together in a checkerboard style of pattern with the grain facing up in a vertical direction. This has many advantages, the main one being that the grain will separate when a knife blade connects with it and close up when the blade is removed. This is a lot easier on your knives than cutting across the grain on edge grain boards. This also reduces the amount of knife marks on your board as well. It's recommended that the boards be 2.5 to 3.5 inches thick to avoid warping and cracking.
Edge Grain Boards are made by laying out strips of wood on their edges and gluing them together. These are good strong boards and a good alternative to end grain boards due to their being cheaper to buy and much lighter. While they are a little harder on your knives than end grain boards they are still easier on them than many of the other types of boards out there.
Recent research has suggested that wood cutting boards are actually better at killing bacteria than plastic boards. The theory is that the capillary action of dry wood causes the germs to become trapped below the surface of the board leaving the exposed area clear of microbes. As for plastic boards, the bacteria sits on the hard plastic surface of the board, still able to contaminate any food it comes in contact with. There are many articles written on this subject, some recommending plastic boards and some favouring wood. I would suggest reading these on your own and making your own decision. Regardless which cutting board you choose it's very important to keep them clean.
Bamboo Boards are relatively new but quite popular. Bamboo is a grass and is actually stronger than wood so it makes quite a tough board. These boards are a good alternative to wood for beauty and strength.
Bamboo is actually a grass, with over 1000 different species found worldwide. It is known as a plant with over a thousand uses, such as houses, furniture, flooring, landscaping, pulp and paper, scaffolding, tools, and much more.
It's one of the fastest growing plants on the planet, growing up to 2 feet per day, making it a viable alternative to trees as a natural resource.
It's a very tough plant, about 16% harder than maple, which makes it an ideal material for making many items for the kitchen such as bowls, chopsticks, flatware, plates, serving trays and of course cutting boards.
The manufacturer makes the board as a laminate, glueing several thin strips of bamboo together to make a solid, strong cutting suface. This makes a very durable and smooth surface for cutting.
There are a few concerns, however, such as the possibility of the glue failing due to moisture finding its way into the many thin laminated strips. There is also the possibility of chipping these strips near the edges. The other thing to consider is that bamboo being harder than wood, while being a tough cutting surface, will eventually take its toll on your knives.
Aside from these concerns, these cutting boards are easy to maintain, light and inexpensive. Cleaning should be done with hot soapy water, and wiped dry after rinsing. Do not let water sit on the board, immerse it in the sink, or put in the dishwasher. It should be wiped down periodically with mineral oil to preserve the finish.
Although these boards have some drawbacks, for the price they are a reasonable alternative to wood cutting boards and probably better than plastic boards.
Plastic boards are very popular due to their being inexpensive and easy to clean. They come in many different shapes, sizes and colours.
Many kitchens have several of these boards for cutting specific food items such as meat, vegetables, bread and fruit.
You can find these boards in most department stores and large grocery chain stores.
They are also readily available online. Very often they are sold in sets and even colour coded for specific food items.
Cleaning these boards can be done in the dishwasher but thin boards may warp due to the heat. If cleaning by hand they should be scrubbed in hot, soapy water, rinsed and dried.
They should be replaced when scratches and gouges appear on the surface as bacteria can hide there and be hard to remove.
These cutting boards are good for general kitchen use and light and easy to pack for camping, boating and picnics.
Acrylic boards are an attractive option if you're looking for a low maintenance, tough, and easy to clean cutting surface for your kitchen.
These tough but stylish looking boards can also be used for holding hot pots or casserole dishes on your table or countertop.
The main drawback with these strong surfaces, of course is the wear and tear on your kitchen knives.
These hard surfaced boards will dull your knives much quicker than the softer surfaces of wood cutting boards.
Serrated knives will last longer but will eventually have to be replaced. Your board, however will last a very long time.
Although these boards are harder on your knives than wood cutting boards, they need no upkeep other than cleaning and sterilizing. They require no sanding or oiling, just the usual good kitchen hygiene.
For general kitchen use these boards are a reasonable choice. The toughness, heat-resistant, and easy cleaning qualities may or may not outweigh the dulling of your kitchen knives. It's a matter of personal preference.
Glass boards are inexpensive, strong, attractive, durable and dishwasher safe. The benefit of these cutting boards is that they are resistant to scratches making them more sanitary than wood or plastic boards.
The good sanitary qualities of these boards make them a good choice for cutting meat, seafood and poultry products.
The main drawback to these cutting boards is that they are harder than the knives we use them with.
This over time causes your knife edges to literally wear away. It's generally reccomended to use cheap disposable knives rather than your expensive good knives with these boards. Serrated knives will last longer and they are not too expensive.
The other thing to consider is that when cutting on such a hard surface it's possible for the knife to slip, possibly causing an injury.
One of the best uses for a glass cutting board is as a trivet for hot casserole dishes on your dinner table or on your countertop for hot pots and pans. The tempered glass they are made with is almost bulletproof.
Usually made of tempered glass, decorative boards add artistic beauty, personal style and atmosphere to your kitchen. They come in a varied variety of artistic themes such as wildlife, cute & cuddly pets, flowers and scenery. They make great gifts that will last a lifetime due to their being just about indestructable.
Being made out of tempered glass, these cutting boards are very tough and sanitary.
Cleaning is as easy and they are dishwasher safe. They are heat-resistant making them good platforms for putting hot food dishes on your table or hot pots & pans on the counter.
The drawback to their tough resiliance is they are hard on knife edges, wearing them down quickly. It's best not to use your expensive knives on them. Serrated knives will last longer than straight edge knives. You should also be careful of the knife skipping along the hard surface possibly causing injury.
These boards are a beautiful and useful addition to any kitchen, one that will outlast almost anything else you may purchase for you house, or even your house itself!
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