Cutting board is an essential tool to have in every kitchen because none of us want to directly cut on top of the kitchen top that may not only be unhygienic but also harmful to your knives. Cutting boards can be separated between Wood Vs Plastic Cutting Board which have the same function but can be different as well. If you wonder which of them will be the best option in your kitchen, go check what are these tools are more ideal with here.
In this article, we are going to give you information about:
- Do You Need a Cutting Board
- What are Traditional Cutting Boards
- What are Wood and Plastic Cutting Board
- How Wood and Plastic Cutting Board Look Like
- What are the Safety Concerns about Wood and Plastic Cutting Board
- Wood Vs Plastic Cutting Board
Every proper house needs a kitchen because here is where your food is being prepared and where the waste or mess from the dishes will be taken care of. You will have lots of tools in the kitchen, prominently being a cooking stove, oven, various kitchen appliances, knives, cutlery, and a very robust cutting board. We can indeed cut directly above the kitchen top but you don’t want to do it if dull knives and damaged surfaces are things to be avoided.
A cutting board and knife are two of the most basic tools every kitchen must have because these are the essentials of food preparation. We can’t cut veggies or meat, skinning salmon, boning fishes without anything but hand and to go together with a sharp knife, a cutting board is the one that protects both the cutting tool and the surface in which it will be placed. If you are cooking from scratch, we can’t leave any of them and depending on the users; their options may vary as well.
Cutting Board History
Since our prehistoric ancestors, cutting board was already used and while there is no knowledge or metal smith in the past, they understand to use something behind a material like food before being cut, processed, or probably ground with stone as this allows for an even production or result. This knowledge is coming from way back then that is still being applied today as it is very useful. After metal is more commonly used, people move to a softer layer which is wood, for they are abundant and easy to make.
Many modern people are still using a layer of chopped wood as their cutting board but we commonly call it a butcher block as it is often seen in such establishments yet, some of our grandparents may still have it in their kitchen. They are similar but different from a regular cutting board as you can check on our Cutting Board Vs Butcher Block but to sum it up, it is simply a more robust and heavy duty version of a cutting board.
One can have more than a pair of cutting boards and similar protective layers but it is usually matched with whatever they are cooking or often deal with in the kitchen. Those who rarely cook meat, a vegan or vegetarian may not need such heavy duty butcher block but if you are cooking meat often, boning, quartering, etc. heavy knives are being used and to take the pressure or weight, you will also need something thicker to protect the kitchen top.
About Wood and Plastic Cutting Board
In modern days, anything can be made from almost anything as well, including cutting boards. Most of us are used to wood cutting boards but you can find several different materials used to make this protective surface and besides wood, there are plastic, glass, bamboo, or sometimes marble and few different types of stones as well. It is all about preference and what you want from the tool but in general, as long as they are working anything can be used as a cutting board.
However, due to the convenience the common materials used to make cutting boards are wood and plastic because they are easy to make as well as ideal for the purpose. Wood and plastic cutting boards are available everywhere and we are sure you have either of them already. While wood has been used since no one really knows when, plastic is fairly new and the most common type of material being used are usually called PE or polyethylene and high density polyethylene plastic.
As for the HDPE option, there are two of them based on the method they have been made and they are from injection-molded plastic while the other is from an extrusion line. Plastic being known to have certain qualities not very amazing for foods makes it has to pass a certification such as NSF so it can come in contact with food. On the other hand, wood based or wood cutting boards don’t have to pass the same certification because of their natural quality.
While in general wood cutting boards are safe, you will also find them being made from different types of woods which may also decide its price point or availability. The most common and desired for heavy duty purposes including for making butcher blocks are usually hard wood like maple and oak while the rest wood types such as hickory, cedar, and pine or mahogany are categorized as soft woods. If remembering the tree type is confusing, there is this Janka hardness test to measure relative hardness of wood.
Wood and Plastic Cutting Board Design
Wood and plastic cutting boards are available in various different sizes as well as shapes but the most common one is our standard rectangle ones be it with a handle on one of the sides or just a same edge cutting board. Besides rectangles they sometimes come in a round shape as well and some unique shapes like leaves or animals. The smaller ones are measured around 8 by 10 inches, with medium type at around 10 by 14 inches.
Smaller boards beside for food preparation may also be useful for a serving surface. If you will be preparing lots of food or commonly preparing for a bigger family, an extra-large 20 by 30 inches cutting board will be ideal as they can take an extra amount of ingredients so we can prepare several at once. For the thickness itself, they can come in varying heights as well but in most cases they seem to be about 1.3 inches while anything thicker than 1.5 inches can be categorized as a butcher block.
Wood and Plastic Cutting Board Safety Concerns
Because wood and plastic cutting boards are going to be in contact with your foods, our concern about whether they are safe enough will always surface and back then, we did think that plastic is a better option compared to wood due to the fact that we can treat it harsher. Here are some considerations regarding the food safety for both common materials:
Wood Cutting Board
The reason why plastic cutting boards gained so much popularity was because wood cutting boards can’t be treated with harsher chemicals without contaminating the food later for we can rinse it clean. Woods on the other hand are porous which makes them not ideal to be washed with anything harsh since they can be absorbed and may transfer to the food later even after they have been dried including bacteria. This is why we have to always sanitize the board after each use and if available, bamboo is another great choice from the wood family.
This is due to it being less porous so it will not take as much liquid from the ingredients we are preparing especially meat. To clean wooden boards, we can scrub the surface with warm, soapy water and then rinse as well as sanitize it with sanitizer made for wooden cutting boards. We also have to make sure they are completely dried to prevent warping. The advantage over its plastic type is instead of throwing it away, we can sand wood to smoothen its surface when it gets cut.
Plastic Cutting Board
This type of cutting board is probably one of the easiest to keep clean but it is not always the fact because according to research by the University of Michigan and another study done by University of Wisconsin, there will be new marks left by the knife as we use the board creating rooms or home for bacteria to grow in. This is why it is not recommended to clean them in a dishwasher and to properly clean the board; we will need to hand scrub it with hot soap and water.
This is to get through the nooks and rinse them properly, if available with chlorine-based sanitizer such as bleach diluted in water. Unlike woods that we can sand if there are any visible grooves on the surface, we can’t do it with plastic so we have to throw it.
Wood vs Plastic Cutting Board
Wood or plastic cutting boards are an essential to have in the kitchen, just like knives but they are different because overall wood is easier to reuse and requires no certification to be safely used with foods. It is however porous and requires a more meticulous cleansing to prevent any bacteria to food contamination unlike plastic which is non-porous but also possible to have the same disadvantage as it can get cut and creates rooms for bacteria to grow. On the bright side we can use harsh chemicals to clean them thoroughly.
|Wood Cutting Board||Plastic Cutting Board|
|- Difficult to sanitize||- Easier to keep clean|
|- Heavy||- Light|
|- Friendlier for knife edges||- May dull your knives|
|- Environmental friendly||- Less environmental friendly
Rather than saying one of them is safer than the other, in our opinion it is better to have several at home for different purposes. Raw meat may create more sanitizing efforts so we can use one for this type of preparation and another for raw produce or bread.