My favorite kitchen tools: Cutting boards

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How to pick a cutting board.

Even though this photo I found is cool, I wouldn’t use any of these.

cutting board_218100148 copyHere’s why:  Those boards with the handles on them…. they take up much needed space on my counter and just get in the way. The one shaped like a pear, that might be nice for serving something on but it’s just a little too impractical for me. I don’t need cute, I need efficient. The one in the center – waaayyyy toooooo small. Round – useless. Put a bowl of fruit on it and it’ll look nice.

Give me a nice, rectangular cutting board. When I need a new cutting board here’s what I look for and where I go:

First – the cutting board must be wood or bamboo. These have been proven to be the safest surface to work on, bacteria wise.

Second –  walk into Home Goods. If you don’t have a Home Goods near you, then TJ Maxx or Marshalls (all three of these are owned by the same company), any place that gets lot ends (but you know it can be hit or miss). See what they have. Or if you have a restaurant supply place near you that can be a good place to get reasonably priced cutting boards.

Pick the cutting board that suits the space, but not one that’s too small. Something around 16 x 24 generally works well. I really like the bamboo cutting boards that are available these days. Bamboo is a great, quick growing, renewable resource.

There are some absolutely beautiful cutting boards like Boos, but they are just outside my budget.

You’ll find some cutting boards have a groove about an inch or so in from the edge. This is for catching the juices of foods that, well, are juicy. Meat and poultry have plenty of juice that will get all over your counter without a board like this. Not good!  Tofu or seitan can be a bit drippy too (but not full of bacteria so no worries on that end).

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You don’t want these plastic cutting boards! →

  • One, because they’re plastic. We already have too much plastic in our lives, and it’s toxic and I always wonder if little, unnoticeable bits of plastic get into the food somehow.
  • Two, because these plastic cutting boards get deep grooves in them when you cut on them. Those deep grooves hold bacteria.
  • And three – I’m convinced they dull a knife faster than a wooden cutting board.

However, see that rack the boards are standing in. You could use one of those. I got mine at, ummm, Home Goods (these guys should be giving me a stipend! They’re not, no worries). You want one of those racks so you can stand the cutting board up to dry after you clean it at the end of your work day, or work hour, or work minute. I guess for me it’s a work day (I’m a personal chef), but not for most of you. You don’t want to tuck a damp cutting board into a cupboard or closet. It’ll start to mold if it doesn’t get a chance to dry. Yuck! If you don’t have the space for a rack like this then just stand the board up on end and lean it against a wall where it won’t fall or get knocked into. Once it’s thoroughly dry then you can tuck it away in a closet or drawer.

Oh, I forgot to mention glass cutting boards. I have no idea who ever invented those. Nobody who cooks. I always know if I’m in the home of someone with one of these they definitely don’t cook. Maybe you can cut a bagel on them. Glass cutting boards are dangerous since the knife can slip on them and they dull a knife faster than anything. Put a plant on it. It’ll look pretty.

I have several cutting boards, some that I use only for meat, poultry and fish and the others are specifically for plant-based foods. Is that necessary? Probably not. But it keeps me happy to know they are kept separate. And my vegan clients like to know that too.

To clean your cutting board just use some warm soapy water. If you want to disinfect it, which I do immediately after prepping any sort of animal foods on my board, I rinse the board off in an empty sink and then spray it with a natural disinfecting spray or simply white vinegar or diluted tea tree oil. I also wash the sink with hot soapy water, then spray the sink with a natural antibacterial cleaner.

Don’t – let me repeat – DON’T put your cutting boards in the dishwasher. Great way to ruin them.

There are other things you should know – like how to oil a cutting board so it doesn’t crack so you can keep it for a lifetime and how to keep the cutting board from slipping around on your table or counter top. I’ll be blogging about those things in the near future. Keep an eye out for those 😉

Happy Cooking!

Marilyn

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