How to choose a chopping board
1. Wooden Boards
Type of Board
Traditionally there are two types of wooden chopping boards; End grain and Flat grain. Wood is attractive and will look good in any kitchen. No matter how much you use them, wooden boards tend to mature over time and will look good for many years.
End grain boards are made up of many square or rectangular batons of wood, bonded together under high pressure. The board is then created by slicing across the grain. This technique leads to attractive boards which won’t warp, are durable, and are kind to your knife edge. At a microscopic level, as a blade is drawn across the surface of the board, the individual wood fibres are able to bend out the way, hence are not damaged. Likewise, as the blade is not cutting through wood fibres it will maintain its edge for longer.
Flat grain boards are generally made up of larger sections of wood, with the grain, as the name implies lying flat. Normally a board will be made up of three or four sections of wood and they often have lovely grain structures. The simple construction means that these boards are usually excellent value for money. Though not quite as durable as end grain boards, flat grain boards with normal domestic use will none the less give many years of service.
Commonly available woods
There are three types of wood commonly used for chopping boards; Hevea, Beech and Maple. It is also possible to get boards in Oak, Hornbeam, olivewood, bamboo and others. Listed below are key points to consider when choosing a material.
Hevea is otherwise known as rubber wood. Rubber trees have a finite productive life, and when they are too old, they are cut down to make way for the next generation. All the resultant timber is simply a by-product waiting to be recycled. Hevea is a hard and oily and can be sanded to a fine finish, making it ideal for chopping boards. The plentiful supply of raw material from managed rubber estates means that the price for Hevea goods always remains much lower than you would expect for such an attractive durable material.
All our beech boards come from woodlands managed in accordance with the guidelines of the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC). The FSC is an international non-profit organisation committed to the promotion of environmentally, socially and economically responsible forest management. FSC provides an independent guarantee that the forest is managed according to agreed social, environmental and economic standards. Beech is a beautiful hardwood, very tough and durable and ideal for chopping boards
The Maple wood used in our boards is once again the by-product of another industry. When Canadian maple trees have reached the end of their productive life, they are recycled into things such as chopping boards. The trees are very slow growing resulting in a very tight grain structure. Maple wood is very hard and ideal for cutting on and with the right care will last decades. Maple wood may be stained or left natural; either way it has stunning grain patterns.
Care for wooden boards
Wood is intrinsically hygienic; the natural enzymes that protected the tree when it was alive still do their bit to fight bacteria on the surface of the board. Wooden boards should be cleaned with hot water and a little mild detergent if necessary. Avoid using excessive amounts of detergent, as this will dry the wood out. Over time, the natural oils in the wood will be depleted. To maintain the board in tip top condition and maximise its life it should be periodically treated with wood oil, available from this site. Never leave a wooden board to soak in water or put it in the dishwasher!
2. Plastic Boards
Plastic boards are inexpensive, long lasting and hygienic. They are handy to use and store because they are often lighter and thinner than an equivalent glass or wooden board.
Plastic boards are kind to the blade of your knife and will help keep it sharp.
We sell the T&G range of anti-bacterial plastic boards, which come in a range of sizes and are impregnated with an anti-bacterial chemical to help kill germs.
Plastic boards are easy to clean and do not require special treatment. They can be put in the dishwasher, on a normal temperature cycle.
Also available are plastic mats. These are the ultimate for space saving in the kitchen, and can be stored slotted in almost anywhere. Plastic mats are very tough and can be used almost like any other cutting surface. A particularly handy feature of cutting mats is that you can pick them up and funnel the food straight into you pans with no effort, spillage or mess.
3. Glass Boards
Glass boards are often known as ‘work surface protectors’. This name reflects their best use. Glass boards are designed to be placed on your work surface, to protect it from cutting, heat and mess, most are fitted non-slip with rubber feet to stop them sliding on the work surface.
Glass boards are simple to keep clean, and may be put in the dishwasher, they often have patterns and designs on them and many people leave them out permanently as a feature I their kitchens.
You can use a glass board for cutting, and occasional use is perfectly acceptable. Because glass is very hard, you will find that repeated cutting on a glass board will cause your knives to dull more quickly than with plastic or wood.
Glass boards are made from tempered, heat proof glass, and are very tough. It is possible to break glass boards, though in normal domestic use this is very unlikely. If one were to break, the tempered construction means that it will shatter into small safe pieces, the same as a car window would.