Your knife needs a good cutting board. And with wooden cutting boards, your knives deserve excellent quality.
Using your knives on low-quality cutting boards is akin to taking one stride forward, and two strides back; the knife chops the food, but the chopping board dulls the knife.
That said, wooden material needs to meet specific standards to make good wood cutting boards. Also, celebrity chefs such as Ramsay prize these features above everything else when choosing their cutting boards. Whether you’re a professional or an amateur chef, ensure your cutting board meets these features.
Porosity refers to the size of the pores in the wood. These pores are present in all hardwood trees and serve the function of transporting water throughout the tree.
Hardwood makes the vast majority of wood cutting boards. So it helps to know what pores are and how they affect your board. Woodgrain (the appearance and size of wood fibers) dictates the porosity level in a cutting board.
Woodgrain is either open grain or close grain.
The latter is the best wood for a cutting board since it has a soft surface with tiny pores. These pores curb liquids from getting into the wood. Also, they ensure you have a bacteria-free chopping board.
Open grain wood has large pores and feels coarse. Such sizable pores allow food materials or liquids into the wood. It’s also prone to warping as it absorbs and keeps more water.
Cutting boards come into direct contact with our foods. So, it’s easy to conclude they’re made using non-toxic wood.
However, some tree species can produce toxins and can affect your health. These include:
Runny nose, asthma, irritant
Asthma, sensitizer, irritant
Eyes, hands, lungs
Avoid these cutting boards as the toxins can get into your foods during meal preparation.
Research by UC Davis-based researcher Dean Cliver shows that wood cutting boards from oak, maple, and walnut are less likely to contain toxic materials. Again, woods such as purpleheart—although exotic—are best left out of the kitchen.
If you’re not sure what wood material to choose, consider wood from trees that produce sap, edible nuts, and fruits. Also, ensure any finishes on the cutting board, such as glue, are non-toxic.
Shape and Size
Let's discuss the shape and size of wood cutting boards.
It’s simple: The shape and size you choose for your cutting board boils down to preference.
However, you need to consider whether your kitchen countertops can accommodate a particular size. After all, you don’t want a cutting board that keeps veering off the edge of your kitchen countertops.
That said, standard chopping boards are rectangular with dimensions of 17-by-11-by-0.75 inches. Even better, you can choose a larger cutting board if your kitchen countertops are spacious. Larger cutting boards have measurements such as 20-by-15-by-1.75 inches or 24-by-18-by-1 inches.
Finally, it would help if you also examined the thickness. For an end-grain wood cutting board, ¼ to 2-inch thickness is ideal.
End Grain vs. Edge Grain: Which Wood Pattern Should You Consider?
You’ll hear chefs discuss end grain vs. edge grain in terms of their cutting boards. Each style has its unique features, and it’s up to the consumer to determine which style they prefer. It also explains why carpenters design cutting boards from different perspectives.
So what’s the difference?
End grain cutting boards are designed from end pieces of wood. They identify with a checkered pattern that differentiates them from their edge grain counterparts.
Even though these cutting boards are expensive, consumers prefer them as they’re knife-friendly.
With end grain, the pattern of the wood fibers allows them to open up to the knife’s edge — a feature wood experts describe as “self healing.” In short, it means the wood fibers close up after being cut by the knife.