If you cook often, you know that one of the most important things that you can own is a good cutting board. A good cutting board can last you years, but it takes a special kind of board and special care. But there are a few things to take into consideration when buying a cutting board.
There are lots of different types of cutting boards, from stone to plastic to wood. But which is the best type of cutting board?
Choose a wooden cutting board
A wooden cutting board is more attractive, ultimately easier on your knives, and perhaps most importantly, it’s safer than a plastic board. The latter point may come as a surprise to you – it’s a common misconception that wooden cutting boards are harder to clean and less safe for you. In reality, plastic cutting boards are worse.
Wood does absorb food-borne bacteria that can remain even after cleaned with soap and water. But as the wood dries, the bacteria inside is unable to multiply and eventually dies out. One study even found that bacteria doesn’t come out of a wooden cutting board that has been contaminated, even when sliced by a knife.
Plastic isn’t as safe
As for plastic cutting boards, the same cannot be said. The only time they can be trusted to be fully disinfected is when they’re new. Once the surface has been cut, bacteria easily finds its way in and, unlike wood, plastic has no antimicrobial properties. The bacteria can set and fester for a long time.
“With the plastic, after manual washing as I would do under my kitchen faucet, we could still recover bacteria from grooves,” said Professor Dean Cliver, a professor of food safety at UC Davis.
“Dishwashers didn’t eliminate the problem either because the bacteria didn’t actually die—they were re-deposited on other surfaces in the dishwasher. And tests on old plastic boards treated with disinfectants such as chlorine bleach still found levels of residual bacteria hiding in grooves.”
Hard cutting boards damage knives
Other types of cutting boards weren’t heavily studied because of how much damage they did to knives. Other, harder materials should be avoided for that reason.
“We are aware that there are other food preparation surfaces… We have done very little with these because they are quite destructive of the sharp cutting edges of knives, and therefore introduce another class of hazard to the kitchen.”
At the end of the day, a wooden cutting board is the best bet for you, your knives, and the environment. Our advice is to invest in a good wooden cutting board, always wash with warm water and soap after use, and every week, rub a special cutting board oil to help the board last even longer.