What wood should not be used for cutting boards?

To sum up, you should be aware of the materials that are food-toxic. In terms of hardness, porosity and taste when considering which ones to use for cutting boards. we would avoid open-pored woods like ash and red oak, which will be harder to keep clean from food stains.

What wood is best for cutting boards & butcher blocks?

If you think about it, cutting boards are very versatile and one of the most valuable accessories in your kitchen. It acts at any given moment as a chopping block, food preparation surface, or serving station—sometimes all three. Therefore it’s essential that this can’t-live-without kitchen accessory be made of a high quality, everlasting material. Wood is a leading candiate for such but are all types of wood suitable?

Professional chefs swear by wood because its more impact resistant and sanitary than plastic, gentler on knife blades than a harsh bamboo, and much cheaper than marble or granite. But not all types of wood are good options for cutting boards. You should know that certain wood species are better suitable for chopping tasks than others.

What to look for in wood for wooden chopping boards

When selecting a cutting board or a butcher block, consider the following 5 key attributes of a wood species:

hardness rating: Nearly every material has its hardness ranking and so does wood. The higher the Janka hardness rating of a wood (measured in pounds-force), the harder and more resistant it is to scratches, dents, or dings from knives. Opt for a medium hardness like maple or cypress over softwoods like pine.

Toxicity: All woods that produce edible fruits, nuts, leaves, or sap are considered to be food-safe. Exotic woods like Purpleheart, while aesthetically pleasing, should be avoided. They often contain toxins that may leach out of the wood and into food placed on the surface.

Porosity: Opt for closed-grain woods, that is pores invisible to the naked eye, to keep liquid or bacteria from entering the cutting surface and cause mold growth, wood warping, or stains. For that reason bamboo, although very economical, is not the best option due to its surface porosity. The smaller the pores, the better. Open-grained woods (pores visible) such as oak and ash are a poor choice because they soak up moisture like a sponge and quickly become a fertile ground for bacteria.

Conditioning: Food-grade mineral oil such as beewax should be applied to wood cutting boards and butcher blocks to suppress wood’s natural tendency to shrink and warp or split as surrounding humidity decreases. For an average use home cook, that should be quarterly conditioning after cleaning wooden cutting boards. Keep in mind that some woods shrink more than others, so you’d need to oil these woods more frequently.

Cost: The prices of store-bought cutting surfaces vary widely depending on the wood used to make them. Bamboo tree grows extremely fast therefore it tends to be the cheapest material. Usually, cutting boards fall at the lower end of these ranges and butcher blocks at the higher end. Alternatively, if you have the right tools, you might shop for the hardwood on your own and create a DIY cutting board.


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