Cutting Boards should be a pretty straight forward kitchenware item, right? Not so much. It’s about more than just keeping your counters clean and scratch free. While these are important reasons to own a cutting board, my goal is to educate you on how to care for your cutting boards and what you can do to keep yourself and your families safe and healthy. Seems a bit serious but bacteria and cross contamination are big issues with cutting boards.
I’ll ease into it though. Let’s talk first about the types of cutting boards and their fun facts. There are three main materials used for cutting boards:
- Wood-The most common material, wood can come from many sources. Steer clear of softer woods such as pine. Pine splinters quite easily and why risk getting wood in your food? Yikes. Gravitate towards harder woods such as cherry, walnut and bamboo. Be wary of the overly decorative ones that you find in novelty stores, they are typically made of laminate. Hang those up for decoration. While wood is a porous material, it has been used for hundreds of years to cut on, so that should count for something.
- Plastic-Plastic is non absorbent, light weight, relatively inexpensive and dishwasher safe. You can buy thicker, harder plastic cutting boards (many many shapes and sizes) as well as flexible cutting mats. Mats are typically color coated so that you can use the green for veggies, red only for meat, yellow for chicken, etc… (see example below)
- Glass- While glass is nonabsorbent, they tend to be slippery. A little dodgy when you are trying to use a giant knife in my opinion.
Caring for your cutting board (**if you only read one thing… read this**):
- Wash and dry cutting boards thoroughly using hot, soapy water. Use the top rack of your dishwasher for plastic or glass boards. Dishwashers get to such a high temperature that you can feel confident that they are clean.
- Sanitize wood cutting boards frequently with bleach (1 Tb of bleach to 1 Qt of water) or my personal favorite white vinegar (1 part vinegar to 5 parts water). The easiest thing to do is buy a cheap spray bottle and fill with your mixture of choice, spray on, let sit for several minutes, wipe and then let air dry.
- Try your best to keep your cutting board dry. Bacteria thrives in damp places. Don’t let your cutting board just sit with liquid on it. Try to, at a minimum, wipe off excess liquid until you can thoroughly clean it.
- I recommend having at least two cutting boards. Use one for meat only and the other for veggies and fruit. Personally, I prefer to be a little neurotic and have several. One for fish, one for meat, one for veggies, etc….
The bottom line is this. You must keep your cutting boards clean and dry. You risk food bourne illnesses when you are a slacker. Why put yourself at risk?
Happy, safe cooking everyone!!