We tend to take them for granted, but when you think about it, they’re about the hardest working tool in our kitchens. They stand up to chopping, dicing and slicing – and, if well made, they do so with nary a nick or scratch.
Scott Swartz, a professor with the Culinary Institute of America, spends a fair amount of time discussing cutting boards with his students.
“I like the feel of a heavy wooden cutting board, but you have to find one made of a hard wood,” Swartz said. “An inexpensive board is probably made of a softer wood, which can be warped or dinged.”
Food safety is top on his list of lessons, so he suggests keeping boards for cutting meats and veggies separate. Plastic boards won’t absorb liquid, so may be a good choice for meats, he said. Plus, they can be tossed in the dishwasher.
But if you love wood, try salting the surface before cutting the meat. This helps draw moisture away from the wood.
Two other suggestions from the chef: Place something under the board, like a damp paper towel, to keep it from slipping, which will keep your fingers safe. And when you store the boards, it’s best to keep them on their sides.
“Make sure air can circulate around them, so they dry out,” he added.
If your old cutting boards are dinged up, it’s time to replace them. Swartz would advise anyone to invest in a great board.
“It’s well worth it,” he said. “A great board will last for years.”
Here are few to choose from:
Work station: Oversized and 3-inches thick, this board, made of acacia, will last a lifetime. End grain board, $139.95, crateandbarrel.com
Gimme five: Keep your meat, seafood and veggies separate easily with this set. Joseph five-piece chopping board set, $59.99, kohls.com
Eco chic: This board, made from wood certified to be environmentally kind, goes from prep to table with style. FSC teak round cutting board, $49.95, crateandbarrel.com
Let it sink in: This priceless piece, which will hang over your sink, features a bowl to strain liquid. Core Bamboo corner grip over-the-sink cutting board, $70, kohls.com
Flex appeal: While they might not last as long as a hardwood board, these handy mats are lightweight and easy to clean. Martha Stewart Collection Flexi Mats, set of four, originally priced $24.99, macys.com
Put it in reverse: Like the finest boards, this is no lightweight. Use one side for cutting meat; the other for veggies. Chefs reversible cutting board, $79.95, target.com
Butcher block: This reversible board is made of rock-hard maple. John Boos edge grain maple cutting board, $59.95, crateandbarrel.com
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