Pamper Your Knives: Choosing Cutting Boards
In a series of blogs that starts here, we’ve looked at knives and how to choose them. But, it’s important once you’ve chosen your knives to treat them well—pamper them even.
One great way to take care of your knives is to use a quality cutting board as you chop. Not only do cutting boards help keep your cooking area clean by containing the mess you make while chopping, they also protect your knives and counter tops. Without a cutting board, those knives you’ve sharpened will quickly dull if they are repeatedly struck against a hard surface, like your counter tops. Likewise, your counter tops will be damaged with scratch marks from the repetitive slices of your knives.
As readily available as cutting boards are, resist the urge to simply head to your local home goods store and pull one off the shelf. These essential kitchen tools come in a variety of materials, shapes, and sizes. Which board you want can vary depending upon what you’re using it for, so it’s best to break down the options.
Does the material matter?
The most common materials used for cutting boards are plastic, wood, and glass. Which type you choose is partially a personal preference, but be aware that each type has its pros and cons.
Plastic (or other composite material) boards are among the most popular because they are versatile and easy to clean. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, allowing for personalization by your tastes.
Furthermore, you can choose between thinner, flexible boards that are great for transferring veggie slices from one surface to the next or sturdy, thick boards that won’t wear away as quickly as a result of repetitive use. Larger boards will likely need to be washed by hand, but the smaller ones are dishwasher safe, so cleaning up is easy!
Wooden cutting boards are a time-tested favorite of chefs everywhere. Traditionally, these boards are made from hardwoods such as cherry or maple and make very beautiful countertop adornments. Recently, bamboo has begun to gain in popularity as a material because it is lighter and more resistant to bacteria than other woods.
Wooden boards are easiest on your knives and make soft, muffled chopping sounds in use. Wooden boards are a little more difficult to clean. They shouldn’t be placed in the dishwasher or soaked in a sink of water. Some wooden boards can develop cracks over time that can harbor bacteria. However, if you regularly treat your wooden board with a food-grade mineral oil, it will replenish the wood’s natural moisture that is lost during washing and prevent cracks from forming.
Glass cutting boards
Glass boards are often purchased because they are very beautiful and can complement the esthetic of your kitchen if left on the counter top. They also make attractive serving platters if you want your board to serve a dual purpose.
However, be aware that in spite of being the easiest to clean and most resistant to contamination, glass cutting boards are the most damaging to your knives. The hard surface of a glass cutting board will quickly dull your knife’s blade, leaving it in need of frequent sharpening and thereby shortening its lifespan.
After you decide what type of material you wish to use for your cutting board, think about the size (or sizes) you need. Easily figure this out by asking yourself a few simple questions about your kitchen and cooking style.
- Where will I store the cutting board? Before you decide on a cutting board, make sure you can stow it easily. If you don’t have room in your cabinets or drawers for a large cutting board, keep in mind they can serve both functional and decorative purposes sitting on your counter top. If you’re going to leave it out, you’ll want to make sure you like the way it looks!
- What kinds of food do I typically prepare? If you’re preparing small meals for one or two people most nights, chances are you can get away with smaller cutting boards than someone preparing meals for a family of five.
- How big is my sink? An often overlooked factor when deciding on kitchen tools is the size of your sink. You don’t need to be able to fully submerge your cutting board, but you should be able to fit it at least halfway in—especially if you are using it to prepare raw meat.
A few unique cutting boards
To take advantage of what’s often “lost” counter space, choose this hard-rock maple board. The counter clip on this board secures to a 90 degree corner angle, extending your counter work area. This hard-rock maple wood board features edge-grain construction and a routed drip groove to collect juices and keep your counter clean. A great cutting board for a kitchen with limited counter space.
This reversible cutting board provides the ideal platform for carving meats and poultry. The attractive pyramid cut on one side stabilizes roasts while carving, and a channel surrounding the board catches savory juices. The flip side incorporates a turkey well to anchor the roast while carving, and a groove that collects the juices.
This innovative cutting board makes it easy to funnel chopped ingredients into prep bowl or pan, while raised sides help contain juices. Made from stain-resistant high-density white polystyrene with easy-grip black Santoprene handle.
Roll out perfectly shaped pie crusts, pastry shells, and rolls with ease on this board. Marked with both U.S. and metric measurements on one side, with a smooth reverse side for everyday food preparation. Over-the-counter-edge stability lip keeps board from slipping.
Innovative set includes 4 removable flexible mats (color-coded) to accommodate every kind of prep without cross-contamination: meat, vegetables, chicken, and fish. Bamboo board with mats provides the versatility of a hard cutting surface and the convenience of silicone in one easy-store, nestable set.
Other than the chef in the kitchen, knives may be the most important tools you own—so how do you choose them wisely? Check out our blogs on knives here at CHEFS Mix.
- Essential Knives
- Specialty Knives
- Keep Your Knives Sharp!
- Pamper Your Knives
- Product Review: Wusthof Gourmet 8-inch Ridge Chef’s Knife
Your turn: What are your preferences in cutting boards?