There hardly exists a kitchen without a cutting board. Most of us would have started our kitchen with a plastic cutting board and then gradually turned to wood and bamboo. Nowadays, cutting boards made from even stainless steel and toughened glass are available in the market.
So which out of them is friendly to your knives and the best in terms of hygiene, maintenance and eco-friendliness? Let us discover in this in-depth guide based on expert recommendations and scientific researches.
We haven’t included stainless steel and glass cutting boards in this comparison because they are brutal to your knives, blunting them in no time. Moreover, the noise of knives hitting on these cutting boards can get on your nerves typically giving a sensation like that of dragging nails on a chalkboard. However, their positives are that they are incredibly easy to clean and the most hygienic option among the lot.
In terms of hygiene, contrary to what many people believe, wooden cutting boards are more sanitary than plastic ones. People tend to believe that plastic is easier to disinfect as it isn’t as porous as wood. But, old knife-scarred plastic cutting boards harbour bacteria within those knife marks, which makes it almost impossible to disinfect them manually.
Further, studies have shown that when wet, wood, being porous allows food juices and bacteria to enter inside the pores. These bacteria remain in those pores for long hours. But they can’t be recovered. Neither do they come back to the surface or on the knife edges. When the cutting board is dry, the bacteria gets killed due to a lack of moisture.
That is why various researches have concluded that in terms of hygiene, wooden cutting boards are better than plastic ones.
When you compare bamboo and wood, the former is more porous. So, it is better to opt for wood cutting boards for better hygiene.
The clear winner in terms of hygiene is WOOD.
That being said, food safety experts recommend using a separate plastic cutting board for non-vegetarian food and a separate wooden one for fruits and vegetables. This way, you can prevent cross-contamination. Moreover, this will improve the durability of both the cutting boards.
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Plastic cutting boards are the worst in terms of safety because microplastics could chip from the knife marks on the boar and into your food. Bamboo and wood being natural are considered better alternatives.
However, there is a caveat. If you take a look at the edge of a bamboo cutting board, you will realise that layers of bamboo are glued together to make a block.
Many of the manufacturers use formaldehyde, a known carcinogen in the resin that binds these layers of bamboo. This could leach into your food and be a potential hazard. In Western countries with strict regulations, bamboo cutting boards are safe. But, in India, as regulations are lax, we don’t know what exactly goes into the manufacturing process.
Here again, the winner is Wood.
Ease of Cleaning
Out of the three materials, only plastic is dishwasher-friendly. Due to the high temperature and harsh chemicals used in dishwashers, wood and bamboo could get split.
Being low in porosity, plastic is easier to clean too. However, the knife marks make it more susceptible to bacteria growth. Considering that the objective of cleaning is hygiene, it is better to opt for wood.
The winner is Wood.
Related reading: How To Clean Wooden Cutting Board?
Ease of Maintenance
Out of the options, plastic cutting board requires the least maintenance.
Wood and bamboo cutting board are porous and can absorb moisture very easily, making them susceptible to mold growth. They should be cleaned with dish soap and scrubbed immediately after use. Some experts recommend using a cloth to pat it dry and then hanging it or storing it in an upright position on the countertop to maximize airflow.
It is also advised to rub butter on the wooden/bamboo cutting board so as to make it water repellent. Avoid using mineral oil for this purpose as it could have an adverse effect on your health in the long run.
Easy On Knives
If you find your knives dulling sooner than they used to, then the culprit might be a hard cutting board. Out of the options, plastic is the best as it is softer. As they are less dense, they don’t damage your knives or reduce their sharpness. The next best option is wood, followed by bamboo.
Plastic obviously ranks worst as they are non-bio-degradable.
Most people rank wooden and bamboo cutting boards rank equally in terms of eco-friendliness. However, we feel wood has an edge as most wood cutting boards are made from leftover wooden pieces.
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Tips To Maintain Your Cutting Boards
- Use a seperate cutting board for non-vegetarian and vegetarian food to prevent cross contamination.
- Always wash the cutting board after use. Pat it dry and store it upright for better airflow.
- Discard your cutting board if it has deep knife marks.
- Apply butter or any other greasing agents on your cutting board to repel water.
- Slice lime in half, dip it into salt and rub on the cutting board vigorously to remove any bad odour. It also helps prevent bacterial contamination.
Considering all aspects, it is best to opt for a single block wood cutting board. Bamboo cutting boards are also pretty good. But, we are unsure whether they have formaldehyde-based resin in them. Now, if you use a cutting board for raw fish and meat, it is best to keep a separate board for it.