Knives opened the topic in part 1 of this multi part series on Kitchen Equipment Basics. Cutting Boards are the topic of this discussion. It furthers that knife discussion and will be continued into other topic areas.
The polyethylene cutting board or HDPE type board seems to be the absolute most popular cutting board found in restaurants or homes today. They are priced well and easy to find in the discount stores. We want something to cut upon to keep our foods off the counter top and maintain a reasonable sanitized environment to work upon. I did use the term reasonable…read on.
The cutting board is available in several durable materials. There are wood surfaces, corian ( solid surface), polyethylene, paper and a group I label as “others”. Wood and polyethylene are the most popular and both have pluses and minuses. I have several wood and perhaps 12 or more poly cutting boards at my fingertips when working in my kitchen (at home ). I might select a board by size, small job, small cutting surface needed so I grab a 12×9″ board. Turkey or ham feast carving (which is approaching, Easter) requires a large surface. I might go for a 24×48″ board. I have choices and I use them all. But let me add…cutting boards that fit in the dishwasher catch my use more regularly than the larger boards. I spend hours in the kitchen each week and my knives and cutting boards are imperative to the tasks I perform.
My knowledge has always been high on food safety and sanitizing my work place; that is part of being an educated food expert. I have learned in my growth as a chef that poly cutting boards harbor greater potential for bacterial growth then perhaps wood or corian ( I do not like corian made cutting boards). As a poly board matures it gets cut and scratched and the surface becomes rough. The bacteria likes to find the cut lines and scrapes in the board proliferate. I do occasionally bleach my boards but more over, I sand them when they get really cut up. This extends their life in my kitchen and makes me feel like I renewed their use. I hate tossing out a good tool.
Wood boards are really awesome in my mind. I cannot place them in the dishwasher and I use them less frequently but I still use them enough. I have some real thick chop block type wood boards. My wood boards are more or less show pieces in the kitchen. They are less portable and thus used less often. Wood is something you can scrub upon in the sink if the board is portable, but it will not tolerate a soaking and long water bath. You lather, scrub, rinse and dry in reasonable time as to not allow water to soak into the wood and possible warp the glued wood. You can treat the wood with oils. Since wood cutting boards can last several life times if you care for them a monthly wipe with a mineral oil or a mineral oil mixed with bee’s wax can help them have a great place in the family. I know you want to ask if I oil my wood boards… only the one I keep in my RV. I have a board that I use while traveling and it sits over my sink and gets tons of work…and I do oil it regularly. The other boards… they get hydrogen peroxide wiped after use to kill any funk and then again before using them in my kitchen. I dry them and put them in the board rack.
So I agree that the cutting board is a go to tool, used everyday. I keep multiple sizes of cutting boards. I will use many in one day. Meats than veggies…I swap to a new board. Cut some bread for breakfast, use a new board. I do not necessarily have time to clean between uses so multiple boards make life easier. I cut down big poly boards into smaller ones, which save money on my purchases. I have bought many 24×48 boards from places like Sam’s Club and turned these into smaller boards. I like the thin poly quick boards. They seem to make life easier every day and I can place up to 10 in the dishwasher at one time.
Hope this was a helpful read. Let me know what you think.