Food safe wood cutting boards or plastic cutting boards? Which is the best? Learn why wood is a first choice in cutting boards for 7 reasons.
Wood is gentler on your knife blades
Especially if you cut and chop a lot of vegetables, you'll find the blade on your good knives will stay sharp longer if you use a wood cutting board.
Wood won't stain like plastic
You've probably noticed yourself that over time, it gets harder and harder to remove stains from a plastic cutting board. The nicks and cuts that grow over time also make a nice hiding place for bacteria.
You won't find a nice deep juice ring on a plastic cutting board
Juice rings not only capture the run-off from juicy meats or melons, they'll keep small pieces from rolling off your board when you're cutting and chopping -- details you won't find on manufacture plastic or bamboo cutting boards.
It's easy to know where your wood comes from
When you buy a North American hardwood board - Maple, Cherry, Black Walnut - you know the tree was cut down in the United States and manufactured here. Why? Because real wood is heavy and it's not economical to ship wood overseas for manufacture and then ship back a cutting board.
Your wood board will develop character over time
Of course you should plan on replacing a wood cutting board from time to time. Especially if you use it frequently and give it a good workout chopping vegetables and fruit. If you use a wood board everyday, like plastic, it will develop plenty of knife marks. On a good wood board, though, we think they add character!
Wood is naturally anti-bacterial
Although it has long been believed that wood cutting boards and butchers blocks are more likely to harbor dangerous levels of bacteria, recent research shows that it simply isn't true.
The idea is that wood (because it is porous) can soak up juices from raw meats, allowing bacteria to seep down into the board. The bacteria then pose a risk of contaminating the next food item placed on the cutting board. Plastic, because it is non-porous, is believed to be resistant to this bacterial invasion.
Researchers were surprised, however, to find that when they applied large quantities of disease-causing bacteria (those commonly found in raw meat and seafood) to both wood and plastic cutting boards, in the end the wood boards were actually more sanitary than the plastic boards. One study reported that more than 99 percent of the bacteria applied to the wood cutting board died within three minutes, while the bacteria on the plastic cutting board actually multiplied.
It isn't clear exactly why this is the case. Even after hand washing both the wood and plastic cutting boards with hot soapy water, the plastic boards still had more bacteria present, compared to the wood boards. One problem with plastic cutting boards may lie in the nicks and gouges commonly caused by a knife striking the surface of the cutting board. When high levels of bacteria lodged in these crevices, they were not removed from the plastic board by general hand-washing methods. Hand washing effectively removed the bacteria from the surface of the wood cutting board. Wood also appears to have natural germ-killing properties which are not present in plastic.
Cleaning and maintaining your wooden cutting board is easy
Whether your cutting surface is made of plastic or wood, what's important is keeping it clean. Here are some tips for cleaning and maintaining your favorite wood butcher blocks, cutting boards, and countertops in the kitchen:
After every use with food, butcher block cutting boards and countertops should be scrubbed with hot soapy water, rinsed clean, and dried with an absorbent cloth.
Wood surfaces can be sanitized by applying a mixture of one teaspoon chlorine bleach and one quart of water (it's handy to keep a spray bottle full of this mixture for easy use). Saturate the surface of the wood with the bleach solution, let stand for several minutes, then rinse and pat dry with an absorbent cloth. If your prefer a more natural method, use hydrogen peroxide in place of the chlorine beach. Or lemon juice.
Regularly apply New Hampshire Bowl and Board Wood Rub to butcher blocks, wood cutting boards, countertops and wooden bowls to help prevent bacteria from penetrating the surface. (This can be done as often as monthly, or when the wood begins to appear dry.)