Wood Cutting Boards

May 16, 2017

I have a confession to make: I was not always the biggest fan of wood cutting boards (Don’t tell my husband!). I love to cook. In fact, one of the many things I want to be when I grow up 😉 is a chef at a quaint bed and breakfast/farm in Virginia. Until that day, I will settle for being content in my small, but functional kitchen, cooking for some of the toughest critics in Texas, my family. When your husband is a lumberjack and you have two growing kids (one of which has type one diabetes) you must cook hearty, healthy, fresh, and fast!

Our family is constantly on the run- whether we are running to the woods to mill, or to the ballpark to cheer – I find myself planning, prepping, and producing meals for quick delivery. This is compounded by my family’s no cereal policy (cereal produces crazy blood sugar spikes for my son) and our choice to homeschool our children.

Any tool I use in the kitchen must fit certain criteria:

  1. They must make my life easier!
  2. They must last.
  3. They must not occupy too much real estate in my small kitchen!

Wood cutting boards are an investment. They come with a heavier price tag than their plastic counterparts. There is maintenance (I’ll be blogging about this next), and if you cook for a crew you need a large board for convenience, but overall wood cutting boards meet all my above criteria! It is counter-intuitive to see the criteria, think of the investment, and conclude that it is a better option, but none the less I have found that it is, and here’s why:

  1. Knives are a cook’s best friend. A great knife makes your life much easier. After a year of not-so-subtle hints, my sweet husband bought me a very nice chef’s knife. The first time I used it I was amazed! Now the thing about a knife is you should keep the blade sharp for it to continue being a functional tool. This brings me to my first conclusion: a knife blade holds its edge significantly better when used in conjunction with a wood board, especially if the board is end grain verses (Figure 1) and edge grain board (Figure 2). I found that I spent a fraction of the time sharpening my blade when I used a wood board vs a plastic or glass board.

Figure 1. End-Grain Cutting Block

Figure 2. Edge Grain Cutting Block

  1. Wood boards last significantly longer than plastic boards. It is recommended by the FDA that a plastic board is replaced as soon as the knife slices make the board fuzzy. This does not take long. Especially if you cook daily! When you analyze the investment, at first a $20 plastic board has greater appeal to the $200 wood end-grain board. When you are steadily replacing the plastic variety every three months (that’s being generous), the investment doesn’t look as appealing. Now when it comes to edge grain vs end grain on the longevity of use, it is true that end grain boards will last longer than edge grain. However, I use both in my kitchen and they have held up remarkably well. Pictured below are my boards. The edge grain board (Figure 3), I have had since 2011, and the end grain board, I have had since 2016 (Figure 4). I use these boards daily and I think I might have put oil on the edge grain board maybe three times (again don’t tell my husband!).

Figure 3. Well used edge grain board (2011)

Figure 4. Newly used end grain board (2016)

  1. As for occupation of space in my kitchen, I store the boards on their end (Figure 5). This is the recommended way to store a wood board so that the wood can dry evenly on both sides. This ensures that the wood board does not warp. The board remains easily accessible and does not occupy much room!

 

Figure 5. Cutting board storage

Just like having good knives, the better you take care of your tools, the better they will perform over time. Cutting boards are the same. I’m sure mine would look much better with a little TLC, but for those of you who are concerned with the upkeep of wood boards, I hope this post has convinced you that it is nothing to be feared! Revisit my blog for future articles specifically on board maintenance, wood vs bamboo, sustainable forestry, just to name a few!

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