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Picking out the right cutting board (or boards) can be tricky. Anything that touches your food can potentially contaminate it and cause you to get sick.
For example, if you use your cutting board to spatchcock a raw chicken—and then use it later to chop veggies—you run the risk of cross-contamination. (Which is why it's a good idea to have separate cutting boards for meat and veggies.)
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Vegetarians and vegans aren’t off the hook, however. Fruits and vegetables also carry germs and bacteria that can be transferred to your cutting board—so keeping them clean is also important.
But how do you know if your cutting board is really clean? And is one type of cutting board better, or safer? With tons of wood and plastic options in stores, it can be tough to pick a cutting board that’ll stand the test of time—and still be safe for daily use. We break down the basics here, so you can slice and dice without worry.
Okay, so which type of cutting board is safer: wood or plastic?
For a long time, all cutting boards were made of wood. But then the notion came around that plastic cutting boards were easier to clean, so they had to be safer (you can even put some types in your dishwasher).
But, it turns out, research shows that wood cutting boards are actually just as safe—if not safer—to use than plastic. Even though wood is harder to sanitize, and can’t go in the dishwasher, wood is naturally anti-microbial, whereas the gouges and crevices that inevitably happen when you're cutting on a plastic board offer plenty of places for bacteria to hide.
With wood, there are still lots of crevices, but those crevices are deeper, meaning that the bacteria fall in and eventually die—and they don't come into contact with more food. As UC Davis food researcher Dean O. Cliver, Ph.D, explains: "Although the bacteria that have disappeared from the wood surfaces are found alive inside the wood for some time ... they ... can be detected only by splitting or gouging the wood or by forcing water completely through from one surface to the other."
It’s also important to note that the type of wood you use matters. Hardwoods (like this maple cutting board from Boos) are better at resisting bacteria.
“Hardwoods like maple are fine-grained, and the capillary action of those grains pulls down fluid, trapping the bacteria—which are killed off as the board dries after cleaning,” says Ben Chapman, a food safety researcher at NC State.
“Soft woods, like cypress, are less likely to dull the edge of your knife, but also pose a greater food safety risk,” Chapman explains. “That’s because they have larger grains, which allows the wood to split apart more easily, forming grooves where bacteria can thrive.”
Keep your cutting boards clean.
Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona in Tuscon, told Food and Wine, “In most cases, it’s safer to make a salad on a toilet seat than it is to make one on a cutting board. People disinfect their toilet seats all the time, but they don’t realize that they really need to pay attention in the kitchen too.”
If that doesn’t make you want to run home and scrub your cutting board, I don’t know what will. To clean a plastic cutting board, simply throw it in your dishwasher, or wash with dish soap and water by hand (you can also use a solution of a tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water to sanitize). To clean a wooden cutting board, warm water and soap work best. For more detail, follow these handy tips.
Invest in a few different cutting boards.
Stocking your kitchen with several different cutting boards can help prevent cross-contamination. "Have one board for raw meat, fish, and poultry," said Sana Mujahid, Ph.D., manager of food-safety research at Consumer Reports in a news release. "Have a separate board for bread, fruits, and vegetables."
We love this set of dishwasher-safe, flexible cutting boards from Williams-Sonoma because they’re multicolored, making it easy to assign each color to a food group. Use red for meat, green for veggies, etc.
The bottom line: Wood cutting boards may have a slight advantage, but whether you use a plastic or wood cutting board, you run the risk of contaminating your food if you don’t wash them properly between uses. And if your cutting board starts to look weathered and/or develop knife cuts or grooves? Replace it ASAP.
20th Jun 2018 | Source: cookinglight.com
Picking out the right cutting board (or boards) can be tricky. Anything that touches your food can potentially contaminate it and cause you to get sick.
For example, if you use your cutting board to spatchcock a raw chicken&mdashand then use it later to chop veggies&mdashyou run the risk of cross-contamination. (Which is why it's a good idea to have separate cutting boards for meat and veggies.)
Vegetarians and vegans aren&rsquot off the hook, however. Fruits and vegetables also carry germs and bacteria that can be transferred to your cutting board&mdashso keeping them clean is also important.
But how do you know if your cutting board is really clean? And is one type of cutting board better, or safer? With tons of wood and plastic options in stores, it can be tough to pick a cutting board that&rsquoll stand the test of time&mdashand still be safe for daily use. We break down the basics here, so you can slice and dice without worry.
Wood or Plastic Cutting Board? Here’s the Definitive Answer to Which You Should Use
When it comes to your kitchen cutting boards, you may not have given much thought to whether to make a wood or plastic one your go-to choice. After all, does it really matter? It turns out that science says one type of cutting board is superior to the other: wood.
While plastic may seem like the better choice because it appears easier to clean, these cutting boards are a dangerous breeding ground for bacteria. This is due to the fact that every slice you make with your knife leaves a tiny indentation for microscopic particles to slip through and thrive. Research from the University of Wisconsin found that wood cutting boards are better at not transmitting salmonella, E. coli, and listeria, all of which are common contaminants that lead to food poisoning. And even if you feel like you’ve adequately cleaned and disinfected a plastic cutting board after every single use, it’s impossible to fully wash the deep depressions left by those markings no matter how hard you try.
That said, don’t swear off plastic cutting boards just yet! There’s one instance where they’re better for slicing food. Plastic boards are great for cutting uncooked meats, since their juices might get absorbed in the layers of a wood board and become impossible to get out even after a dishwasher cycle or two. That ongoing contamination can lead to food poisoning or other potential health problems down the line. In contrast, pretty much everything else — fruits, veggies, cheeses, cooked meat, and breads — is safer when chopped on wood.
So the next time you’re figuring out which cutting board you’re going with, it’s a pretty safe bet to pick up a wood one. You don’t want to deal with the repercussions later on!
Wood, Plastic, or Marble Cutting Board: A Bacteriologist's Take
There are many options in the market today when it comes to cutting boards including wood, plastic and marble cutting board. A cutting board is an important kitchen item and choosing the right one is as significant as choosing the right knife. Chopping, cutting and slicing can be made easier with the right cutting board.
It is important, however, to think beyond aesthetics and ease of use. Bacteria can live in the cuts and creases on a cutting board&rsquos surface it is a recommended practice that separate cutting boards be used for cutting fresh produce, raw meat, seafood, cooked meat and other foods. Sanitation is an important aspect to consider when choosing cutting boards.
There are many arguments on which type of cutting boards is more sanitary: wooden cutting boards or synthetic cutting boards. Some say that wooden cutting boards have a natural protection since bacteria do not like wooden surfaces. Nonporous cutting boards such as plastic and marble on the other hand keep juices from penetrating the surface.
Wooden Cutting Boards
Among the oldest cutting board types are those made of wood. Wooden cutting boards have advantages and disadvantages over synthetic cutting boards.
Wooden cutting boards are more sanitary than synthetic ones since wood has natural sterile properties. Small gaps and cuts on wood can close on their own.
Wooden cutting boards should never be placed in a dishwasher or soaked in water for a long period because that will affect the glue and the wood.
Rinsing the wooden cutting board and then rubbing it with coarse salt will get rid of foul odors. Just leave the salt on the board for a few minutes and rinse it thoroughly with clean water.
Plastic Cutting Boards
A lot of people thought that plastic cutting boards were more sanitary than wood but tests results show this is not the case.
Also known as polyethylene cutting boards, plastic cutting boards can easily be cut by knives since the surface is soft. Unlike wood, the gaps and cuts made to plastic won&rsquot close on their own. So even after washing the plastic cutting board, bacteria may still remain inside the cuts and gaps on the surface.
A dishwasher can be used to clean a plastic cutting boards but so can a very dilute bleach mixture bleach is the best way to sterilize plastic cutting boards.
Marble Cutting Boards
Most marble cutting boards are not ideal for cutting. They are more costly than other types of boards but nevertheless, they are quite easy to clean and maintain. You can wash it using hot soapy water and they let it air dry. Since marble cutting boards don&rsquot cut as easily as synthetic boards, you don&rsquot have to worry about bacteria hiding in the cuts and gaps. It&rsquos a more sanitary choice than the other types although the surface may be a little hard on your knives.
No matter what type of cutting board you choose, they all protect your kitchen countertop by offering an intermediary surface for cutting all kinds of food.
Which is the Best Kind of Cutting Board?
So which is the best kind of cutting board – Bamboo, Wood, Glass or Plastic? Let’s take a closer look.
Wood Cutting Boards
The best cutting board is heavy wood (as far as I’m concerned). Wood is not only “kind” to kitchen knives and won’t dull them quickly, but it also harbors fewer bacteria than plastic cutting boards, not only that but wood is also a renewable resource (but not as easily renewable as bamboo).
With that being said, a lot of wooden cutting boards are made from waste wood which are typically leftovers at the mill that would have otherwise been thrown away.
The best wood cutting boards are made out of maple or beech and are somewhat “self-healing” and won’t scar and scratch as easily as a plastic board.
To keep your wooden cutting board in tip-top shape keep it regularly oiled with food-grade mineral oil to protect it from staining or warping a well-cared-for board will last for years. NEVER put your wood chopping board in the dishwasher.
Plastic Cutting Boards
Plastic cutting boards are often a favorite found in professional kitchens, and many people (including chefs) believe plastic cutting boards to be the most sanitary. However, a recent study out of the University of Michigan found that “more bacteria are recovered from a used plastic surface than from a used wood surface.”
The study also concluded that a used plastic cutting board that’s been knife-scarred cannot be thoroughly disinfected manually and the bacteria can be passed onto the other food. If you do want to use a plastic board use it for one type of food preparation only (you can find different colors for different tasks)
Bamboo Cutting Boards
Bamboo cutting boards are an excellent choice for many environmentalists. This natural hard grass is a renewable, sustainable natural resource that requires no chemicals to be harvested or grown. When it comes to how sanitary bamboo cutting boards are, there hasn’t been any independent studies to show how sanitary they actually are.
However, when compared to wooden cutting boards they do absorb less liquid, and many cooks believe that they are just as sanitary or more sanitary when compared to wood boards. But, bamboo cutting boards are around 19% harder than traditional maple cutting boards, so bearing that in mind they will be harder on your kitchen knives and you may run the risk of your knives becoming dull quicker.
When you are looking for the best bamboo cutting board try and shop for one that has formaldehyde-free glues, such as those manufactured by Bambu or Totally Bamboo.
Glass Cutting Boards
Glass cutting boards are easy to clean, are non-porous, and there’s very little upkeep such as oiling, etc. But, glass cutting boards are the worst type for your knives and will damage and dull even the best chef knife.
For this reason, we don’t recommend glass cutting boards unless you don’t care about your kitchen knives? Glass cutting boards are good for pastry chefs who work a lot with pastry and need a smooth, cool work surface.
Wood Cutting Boards: Pros and Cons
Wood is far and away the best material for cutting boards. It's durable, yet easy on knives smooth but not slippery and firm while still managing to absorb shocks.
Benefits of a Wooden Cutting Board
- Wooden Cutting Boards Are Durable: A good wood cutting board can last. maybe not a lifetime, but a long, long time. Even if you damage the surface with deep scratches, the board can often be salvaged by sanding them away. Very few artificial materials are as forgiving as that.
- Gentle on Knives: Not only is wood a pleasure to cut on, but wooden cutting boards made from woods like maple and walnut are much gentler on the blade of your knife than excessively hard woods, like bamboo, and plastics. Maple and walnut are both technically hardwoods, so they're durable, but still soft enough not to do tremendous damage to your knives.
- Sanitary: Some people fear that wood, because it's porous and can absorb liquids, is unsanitary, but studies have often found the reverse—wood is able to absorb bacteria, trapping it and killing it. One study found that this can happen as quickly as three to 10 minutes after the surface of the board being contaminated with harmful bacteria, though greasy substances like chicken fat can remain on the surface of the board and continue to be a food-safety risk for many hours washing in warm soapy water was sufficient to remove the harmful grease-borne bacteria. We should mention though that not every study has won out in wood's favor. In one study geared towards commercial kitchens, the researchers found that when both wood and plastic cutting boards were put through an aggressive hand- and machine-washing cycle, wood became the riskier material, likely because it broke down under the harsh washing regimen. Then again, no one should be running wood cutting boards through a dishwasher—ever—and hand-washing should be done gently. The moral here, really, is that wood needs to be treated with care and not abused in a commercial kitchen's dishwashing pit.
- Aesthetically Pleasing: A wooden cutting board is handsome. That's maybe not the most important characteristic to consider when stocking your kitchen—certainly not important enough to outweigh any major flaws—but we'd be lying if we said it didn't matter to us at all. We want our kitchens to be spaces we enjoy cooking in, and looks, as they say, matter.
- Requires Some Upkeep: That's the main bad part: Wood needs to be cared for. It's an organic material, and it frequently needs to be conditioned with food-grade mineral oil to prevent it from drying out, warping, and cracking. Keeping a wooden cutting board saturated with oil also helps protect it from stains, since it'll be a little less eager to soak up every drop of liquid that touches it. Even with conditioning, a wood cutting board can fail. Warping and cracks are not uncommon, and problems often crop up on the seams where the pieces of wood are glued together. As I found in my review of wooden cutting boards, your best bet is to invest in a cutting board that's been made by a skilled woodworker. Cheaper wooden cutting boards with small but visible flaws tend to be more prone to breaking down.
- More Work to Clean: Wooden cutting boards are more difficult to clean than plastic, too. You shouldn't put them in the dishwasher, nor should you leave them to soak, since extended exposure to water and high heat will pretty much guarantee a short life for the board. A gentle wash under warm running water is all that's needed, and then once the cutting board is dry, it's a good idea to give it a little more mineral oil to replenish whatever was stripped away with the soap and water.
- Heavy and Unwieldy: Good wooden cutting boards are also heavy. Thin, lighter-weight ones are more prone to warping, so we don't recommend those. But there's no denying that the thicker ones we recommend are difficult to move around the kitchen. People who aren't able to haul a heavy cutting board around may want to avoid wood.
Best Bamboo: Heim Concept Organic Bamboo Cutting Board
Dimensions (LxWxH): 18 x 12 x 0.75 inches | Material: Bamboo
Yes, bamboo boards are harder on knives. But if sustainability and cost are important to you, this is a great cutting board for intermediate length use. Plus, this is a pretty board that looks like wood and feels like it too.
Measuring 18 x 12 inches, it weighs 3 pounds. Made with organic, sustainably harvested Moso bamboo, no chemicals, dyes, pesticides, sealants, lacquers, or adhesives are used to manufacture this board. A drip-catcher lines the outside of the board, and the slightly rounded ends create a pleasing shape. Plus, you’ll never have to worry about oiling, just wash with soap and dry.
How to clean and sanitize bamboo cutting boards.
The best want to clean a bamboo cutting board is to wash it with very hot, soapy water. Follow it up with a bleach bath. Once done, rub it with mineral oil to help retain the moisture in the wood to prevent it from cracking.
Bamboo cutting boards are harder and less porous than solid wood cutting boards. Bamboo absorbs very little moisture and resists scarring from knives, so they’re a lot more resistant to bacteria than other types of wooden cutting boards.
Wood Or Plastic Cutting Boards: Which Is Better?
Ask any chef or home cook what the single most important tool in the kitchen is and he or she will almost certainly give you the same answer: a chef's knife. One, dependable all-purpose chef's knife -- and knowing how to use it -- is going to make the biggest impact on your cooking, whether you're a newbie in the kitchen or an experienced restaurant chef.
What most people overlook when they give or receive this answer is the knife's partner in crime: the cutting board. Often forgotten for its flashier, sharper-looking companion, the cutting board doesn't always get the attention it deserves. People assume all cutting boards are alike, and may not give much thought to size or material. If you've been using the same cutting board for every dish, or if you've simply never considered the difference between a wood or plastic board, we're here to correct your ill-informed ways.
Contrary to popular belief, plastic cutting boards are not automatically safer than wood. Studies have shown that wood can actually be more sanitary in the long run. People assume that because wood is a porous surface and plastic isn't, plastic boards are more resistant to bacteria. This assumption doesn't take into account the scars a plastic cutting board will get from daily use.
According to Rodale News, expert Dean O. Cliver, PhD from University of California, Davis, conducted research on the subject and found that wood cutting boards contained less salmonella bacteria than plastic. On wood cutting boards, the bacteria sank "down beneath the surface of the cutting board, where they didn’t multiply and eventually died off." On plastic boards, however, bacteria got caught in knife grooves that were near impossible to clean out, whether the board was washed by hand or dishwasher. So while sparkling new plastic cutting boards might be easy to disinfect, any weathered plastic board will hold onto bacteria.
There's still much debate on the matter, and the FDA's official opinion is that both wood and plastic are safe so long as they're cleaned well and replaced often. When boards "become excessively worn or develop hard-to-clean grooves," -- we're looking at you, plastic -- you need to get new ones.
If both wood and plastic are prone to bacteria if not properly cared for and replaced, it comes down to preference and longevity. We prefer a hard wood cutting board -- like maple or beech wood -- because it won't scar as easily as plastic and you won't have to replace it as often if you are diligent about upkeep. (Be sure to always wash and dry your board well, and also lightly rub it with mineral oil to prevent moisture and bacteria from seeping in.) Furthermore, not only will your wood board last, but it will also help your knives last, because hard wood boards won't dull your blades as quickly as plastic boards will.
Ultimately, whether you use wood or plastic, the best method for ensuring safety is to use separate cutting boards for raw meat and poultry, and for your vegetables, fruit and prepared food. This limits cross-contamination, which is the biggest danger of all. What kind of cutting board do you use?
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Your Glass Cutting Board Is for DISPLAY ONLY
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The season of endless chopping has arrived. We’re talking about custardy roasted sweet potatoes, cheesy butternut squash bake, and vibrant winter salad. Along with a fresh haul of stubborn-skinned root vegetables comes a series of pressing questions: What types of cutting boards are there? What are the best cutting boards? How many of each do I need? And, of supreme importance, what do I do with that frosted “glass” board great Aunt Mabel gifted me 35 holidays ago?
Whether you’re adding to your current cutting board collection, or looking to stock up for your brand new quarantine cabin, you’ll need to know which boards are the most durable, gentlest on your knives, and pretty enough to adorn your countertops. To get you through the coming months of cold-weather meal prep, we tapped the pros—executive chef Suzanne Cupps, who chops a helluva lot of vegetables over at 232 Bleecker, along with test kitchen director Chris Morocco and senior food editor Andy Baraghani.
First things first: That glass cutting board from 1985 is brittle and breakable. Best case scenario? The extremely hard surface has no give, so you risk dulling, chipping, or even breaking your knives, according to Baraghani. Worst case? You’re going to be vacuuming shards of glass off the kitchen floor. Morocco could think of only one reasonable use case for glass boards: “They make a perfect gift for your enemies.”
The goal, then, is to find a cutting board with a little more give, that’ll be softer on your knife’s precious edge. And the experts all agree: The best cutting boards are made from wood, rubber, or plastic.
Wood cutting boards are perfect for chopping up everything except raw meats, Morocco says. (Though you can do that too, if you’re willing to give them a good soapy scrub afterward.) Baraghani opts for maple or walnut varieties, because they’re the softest and most beautiful. Wooden boards also “heal” themselves—i.e., close up after use—which prevents germ-harboring grooves from forming and keeps them in good shape for longer (plastic, on the other hand, can get seriously, irreparably scuffed).
On the flip side, wood is higher maintenance than plastic and rubber to clean and care for. You should wash and dry both sides evenly so it doesn’t warp, and slick your board with mineral oil and beeswax every other week. Wood is also the most absorbent material, which means it tends to retain odors and stains.