Not All Cutting Boards Are Created Equal: Here's What to Look For
A cutting board is a kitchen tool that's as often overlooked as it is essential. If you cook a lot, you probably use your cutting board every single day, or multiple times a day. Any time you slice, dice, mince, or otherwise use a knife on prepping food, you'll want a cutting board to protect your countertops and provide a firm anchor for the work you're doing. Even though it's not as glamorous as a chef's knife or a new shiny food processor, a cutting board is an area where its design matters. But what should you look for in a good cutting board? What are the cutting board pet peeves you should watch out for?
Eunice Byun, the founder and CEO of kitchenware company Material, has thought a lot about it because recently she helped the company design and launch their first cutting board, an angled wooden number with thoughtful touches that came out of considering many, many aspects of an object that seems fairly simple.
"More than thinking of what we wanted to fix, we focused on what we couldn’t live without," Byun told MyRecipes. "We knew that we wanted a wood cutting board as our go-to material because of the incredible properties of wood—it has antimicrobial properties, doesn’t dull your knife’s edge, and wears well over time when shown some TLC. We also knew we wanted something versatile, but not gimmicky."
One of the things that Byun wanted to address was the thickness of the board. Thickness of cutting boards usually signals higher quality, but too thick and the board can be hard to handle and wash, as well as excessively heavy. In the end, Material went with a one-inch thick board with built in juice grooves on one side. The size of the board is 12 inches by 17 inches, also something that Byun and her team thought through so that the board would be "a statement piece without being too unwieldy."
"The one little twist we added was in thinking through the entire prep process, and not just the cutting. Clearing your board of whatever you just chopped had to be easier and safer than dragging your knife across the blade," Byun said. "So we added a slight angle at the edge for you to bump up your knife or hand to transfer things from board to pan or plate."
Wooden boards have many advantages, but they do also require some cutting board care. That means oiling them with mineral oil in order to prevent the board from drying out, cracking, and splitting over time. Along with the board, Material also launched a Wood Oil to help new cutting board owners with maintaining the board. It's not that tricky to keep a board in good shape once you have it, but definitely avoid ever throwing it in the dishwasher. "The soap and the heat from the dishwasher will drain your wood products of moisture and ruin them pretty quickly." Byun explained. And that would be sad, because once you find a cutting board you love, you won't want to work on any other surface.