I know cutting boards aren’t really all that exciting when it comes to kitchen equipment. They certainly can’t compare to those flashy knives with the gleaming edges, or that sexy Mixmaster with ten speeds, all chromed out. Oh, and what about that Viking range with dual ovens, six burners with … whoa, I’m getting dizzy just thinking about it. Cutting boards. Every time I step into the kitchen, before I even touch my knives, I pick up my cutting board. It could be the most important piece of equipment in your kitchen because it’s the one you use the most. It’s certainly the most under-appreciated piece of equipment you own.
If, like me, you prefer wood cutting boards to plastic, then one concern that you need to come to terms with is the fact that the two most common woods used for cutting boards is oak and maple. As we all know, these trees take years to grow and can’t be readily replaced. For those concerned about the clearing of forests for wood, there is a cutting board out there for you. Bamboo cutting boards.
Bamboo is a grass not a tree, and is the fastest growing plant in the world, some species growing as much as two feet per day. Being harder than maple and lighter than oak, bamboo offers many advantages over traditonal material for cutting boards. Once harvesting, this plant sends up new shoots and is able to be cut again in 3-5 years, making it a truly sustainable product.
I purchased my first bamboo cutting board almost ten years ago, when I was running my catering business and using my board daily for hours. It has held up better than any wood or plastic boards I have owned and is still in great shape. With the holidays just around the corner, a bamboo cutting board would make a wonderful addition to your favorite chef’s kitchen.
Regardless of whether you choose a wood or plastic, remember that you place all your food on a cutting board. Make sure they are clean and that they are in good shape. Heavily grooved or cracked boards are dangerous. Replace them. For wood or bamboo boards, regularly rub them with a food-safe mineral oil. Periodically sanitize plastic cutting boards with a chlorine solution of 1 tablespoon per quart of water, or a vinegar/water solution (1 to 3 ratio) for wood boards. Finally, to reduce the chance of cutting yourself, when using a cutting board place a damp towel underneath to prevent the board from sliding.