From wood, stone, plastic, and glass to different shapes, sizes, and colors, you’ll find a wide variety of cutting boards to choose from – but which one is the best for your knives? Truth be told, your choice in cutting boards has a direct effect on the cutting edge of your knife, which means not all cutting boards are created equally when it comes to your favorite kitchen tools. While that Texas shaped granite cutting board may go really well with your country kitchen decor, you might need to think again about how this will affect your knives.
What is the Best Cutting Board for Knives?
To help you decide on the best cutting board for your needs – and your knives – let’s explore your different options.
Stone, Glass, and Other Hard Cutting Boards
You’ve seen these kinds of cutting boards, and maybe you’ve even owned them as well. Knives are hard steel blades, right? So why is it bad for them to be used on hard surfaces? They are more delicate than you may realize.
In case you haven’t read about how to sharpen your kitchen knives, it’s a very important aspect of knife ownership. When a knife is sharpened, it slowly grates away the metal on each side of the blade to reveal a sharp edge. Since the metal is being reduced, the edge is very thin and quite delicate at this point, which is why it’s very important to be choosy with your cutting boards.
Glass, granite, marble, and steel all have one quality in common: they are strong, dense materials. These strong materials will be a sudden shock to the thin edge of a blade while slicing through ingredients, causing it to dull very quickly or even chip or break with enough force.
It can also be quite dangerous to use such hard material as a cutting surface. These hard surfaces can be quite slippery when cutting and using a sharp (or dull!) knife can be a dangerous combination. Instead of risking the chance of slippage, look for a cutting board made of softer materials that will absorb the shock and let the knife slightly sink into it.
If you already have one of a glass or stone cutting board lying around your kitchen and you’re a fan of baking, then don’t get rid of it just yet! These types of cutting boards actually offer the perfect surface for whipping up sweet treats. So, the next time you’re working with a butter dense dough, like for pies or tarts, put that board in the freezer and let it get nice and cold, then roll your dough out on top of it. It will keep the dough cold and prevent it from softening, making it easier to slice the dough, cut fun shapes into it, and life it off the surface to be placed into your baking dish.
Plastic Cutting Boards
Plastic is everywhere and will most likely continue to be so. There is no doubt we all have at least one plastic cutting board in our kitchen. They are easy to store, cheap to buy, and quick to clean with or without the dishwasher. Even though they seem like the right and economical option for cutting boards, are they really the best?
Plastic material for cutting boards, or high-density polypropylene, is softer than glass or stone. The surface is soft enough to prevent quickly dulling your knives, yet strong enough to hold its form for many uses. Some say they may be a little too soft, but they have become one of the most common types of cutting boards, especially in commercial kitchens. Most chefs will have multiple boards in different colors to be used for specific food items to avoid cross contamination (like a green board for veggies, a red one for red meat, a yellow for poultry, etc.) At home though, we really don’t need 10 cutting boards.
Realistically, plastic cutting boards are great because they are a fraction of the price in comparison to wooden cutting boards. They’re also much easier to clean as you can wash them by hand or throw them in the dishwasher to let the high heat do the work for you. Replacing the plastic boards doesn’t cost too much, either, but you will have to do so much more often than wooden cutting boards, even if they are well kept.
If you use plastic as your preferred cutting board material, do as the chefs do and get a couple of large polypropylene boards in different colors. You can label the boards or just remember what each is used for, but most importantly, just make sure not to cross contaminate the meat board with your fruit and veggie board.
Wooden Cutting Boards
The most preferred cutting board material is definitely wood – but not any type of wood. There are particular aspects of wooden cutting boards that can make buying a new one a challenging thought process. Here are three main points to consider when narrowing down your options:
- Hardness: As mentioned before, hard surfaces can dull your blades, and the harder the surface is, the higher the chances.
- Grain: When looking at the grain, a tight grain won’t suck up too much water, while a wider grain will degrade faster.
- Thickness: Thicker wooden cutting boards tend to last longer as they don’t warp or split easily, and they won’t slip on the counter due to the extra weight.
When it comes to the types of wood for cutting boards, you’ll find a range of options, from maple and walnut to cherry and beech, and each has its advantages and disadvantages.
What Wood is Best for Cutting Boards?
Cutting boards can be crafted from several different types of wood. Maple, walnut, cherry, and beech are the most standard for quality cutting boards and are some of the best options. Comparable to maple, Acacia wood is also becoming a very popular choice for cutting boards as it’s strong, durable, and beautiful. Olive wood is another great choice, although it can be more on the expensive side.
Here at F.N. Sharp, we offer beautiful Acacia wood cutting boards in two different sizes, from our 24” x 18” large cutting board perfectly sized to tackle any ingredient that comes your way to our 18” x 14” cutting board that is conveniently sized for everyday use and small spaces. We also offer a matching Acacia wood knife block which features exterior magnets for displaying your knives and interior flex rods for additional storage.
Types of wooden cutting boards to avoid include oak as it soaks up too much water, along with teak and bamboo as both are very hard woods that can quickly dull your knives. When it comes to the different grain options, end grain – which runs along the short sides of the board – is the top choice as it’s the strongest and most resistant to marks and cuts. Edge grain, which runs along the narrow side of the board, is good too, just not as good as end grain, while face grain, which runs along the length of the board is the weakest and doesn’t hold up well to the sharp edge of a blade.
Plastic vs. Wood Cutting Boards: Which is Better?
As mentioned before, plastic cutting boards can be found pretty much everywhere, and they can be any size, color, and shape while also being easy on the wallet. It’s also a softer material than stone or glass, making it easier on your knives. The ease of care with plastic cutting boards adds to their appeal, however, as easy as they are to clean, they also may not be the most sanitary option.
While the dishwasher might sound for a quick fix for effective cleaning and sanitation, the soft surface of a plastic cutting board allows for more cuts and grooves from the sharp edge of a knife which can then harbor bacteria, regardless of how it’s cleaned. This means the longer you have your plastic cutting board, the more possible bacteria could be hanging around on it!
Wood, on the other hand, is a much more sanitary option, despite the old wives’ tales. Studies have shown that wooden cutting boards actually outperform plastic when it comes to sanitation. For example, one study conducted by the University of Wisconsin involved placing three different types of bacteria on four types of plastic cutting boards and seven different types of wood cutting boards. The study revealed that 99.9% of the bacteria placed on the wooden cutting boards died within three minutes after contamination, while the plastic cutting boards remained contaminated. Additionally, the bacterial numbers on the plastic cutting boards increased overnight at room temperature, while the bacterial numbers of the wooden cutting boards were nonexistent.
Nonetheless, plastic is still a very popular option for cutting boards, so whichever you choose is totally up to you – but if you’re looking for the most sanitary option that’s easy on your knives and will last for years to come, then the wooden cutting board is the way to go!