If you want to keep your kitchen countertops clean and long-lasting, it is time to get in the habit of using cutting boards every time you prepare food. Cutting board is one of the essential tools in your kitchen, used every single day. It is just a board, not a delicate and complicated machine; however, there are a few things to keep in mind if you want to keep them in a good condition.
Choosing the Right Cutting Board
If you want your cutting board to be a long lasting “helper” in the kitchen, it is highly recommended to choose the right one. The shape does not play a major role here; however, the material, from which it is made of, is fairly important. There are several choices of cutting board materials: glass, marble, ceramic, plastic, wood and bamboo.
The first 3 – glass, marble and ceramic, are not the good options if you want your knives remain in good condition and not to be ruined. These cutting boards dull knives very fast. They are not totally useless, however. They are usually very pretty, so it is better to use them for presentation of appetizers or as cheese trays.
Plastic cutting boards are better because they are nonporous and are easy to sanitize, it is safe to wash them in a dishwasher. However, a plastic cutting board becomes knife-scarred very quickly. There is a study, which found that a knife-scarred surface was impossible to clean and disinfect manually in your sink. It also means that small plastic particles from a knife-scarred cutting board might get into your food, which does not sound good at all.
Wood and bamboo are both renewable recourses, though bamboo is much easier to grow, that is why those are the eco-friendliest options. They usually have the edge grain or drip groove – channel running around the perimeter to prevent juices from spilling onto the countertop, which is very useful when cutting meat, juicy fruits or vegetables. Those cutting boards seem to show scratches less because they are made of softer material than plastic or ceramic. And the biggest advantage is that these cutting boards are also kind to knives letting them stay sharp for longer. A bamboo cutting board is a bit harder than a wood one, which means it is a bit harder on your knives compared with a wooden cutting board, but bamboo is better for camouflaging scratches – the wear and tear from your knife work. So both wood and bamboo are very good options.
Most of my cutting boards are made from bamboo, but I have wooden ones as well.
Different Tasks – Different Cutting Boards
It is a good idea to get in a habit to cut different food on different cutting boards. There are several reasons for this:
- Cross-contamination. Bacteria such as E.coli or Salmonella can be transferred from raw meat to other food like vegetables or fruits. Therefore, raw meat, poultry and seafood should be cut on a separate cutting board.
- Taste damage. Have you ever tried fruit salad with the taste of garlic? That is something, let’s say, very weird. Therefore, you should never cut food on the cutting board that you use for garlic or onion. Reserve a separate cutting board for garlic and onion, as these flavors tend to transfer to other foods. Fish oils can also sometimes leave a smell in cutting boards, that is why it is nice to have separate cutting board for fish as well.
- Different slicing techniques. Dedicate a separate wooden board for bread slicing. Bread knives tend to create more scratches that make the cutting board surface uneven and difficult to use it for other tasks. In our home we do not eat bread, so I do not have a bread cutting board, but I really recommend one if bread is common food in your diet.
I have separate cutting boards for meat, onions and garlic, vegetables, fruits, and cheese. This way I am sure there is no cross-contamination and bad taste.
Labeling Your Cutting Boards
If you listened to my advice and dedicated different boards for cutting different food, now it is time to label them. Having more than one cutting board requires labeling them. How can you remember which is which? And even if you can separate them, how can other family members separate them? You could use labeling machine or a simple permanent marker, just like I did.
I could also add that this helps to get more help from your husband in the kitchen as well. He does not feel lost in your own system and can do everything by himself not constantly asking: “could you please pass me the cutting board for meat” or “which one of these is for garlic”. Read more about this in my post “Organizing Tips to Make Your Man Help You in the Kitchen”.
There is no single best way to store your cutting boards. The right way is the way that works most efficiently for you and your own kitchen. For some people the best way is to store cutting boards is in the kitchen base cabinet using accessories such as baskets, bins or tension dividers. I find that the most usable items for the food preparation should be easily accessible. Therefore, I store my cutting boards not hidden in the cabinet, but on the top of the countertop. This way it takes me a second to grab my cutting board and I do not need to bow down to reach it. I use a bakeware organizer to have them all standing nicely for easy reach.
The Main Rules for Taking Care of Cutting Boards
If you have plastic cutting boards, the most important and only one rule is to wash them in the dishwasher after each use.
If you have a wooden or bamboo cutting board, you should clean it with hot water and mild dishwashing liquid and dry completely for the daily use.
Periodically, once per week it is good to scrub them with some salt, which works as a natural abrasive, and rub it with a slice of lemon, which has a bleaching effect and kills odors.
Never leave wooden cutting boards to soak in water or wash in a dishwasher. They can crack, deform or split.
It is very important to keep wooden boards from drying out. They contain natural wood oils, but even a mild dishwashing liquid washes is out. Oil a brand-new cutting board once a week for a month, then repeat every month, or every time the wood feels dry. You can use simple oil that you use in the kitchen or a specially prepared food-safe mineral oil that you can find in hardware or kitchen shops. I usually rub my wooden boards with oil and leave them overnight, next morning I wash the excess oil off and they are like new again.
I hope these ideas will help you make the most of the space you have in your kitchen and make the cooking process more enjoyable. Remember that the right and a well-cared cutting board will last for years.