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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Monday, September 06, 2010

Frugal Kitchens 101 - Cutting Boards

Frugal Kitchens 101

Using kitchen knives is still one of the most popular ways to prepare chopped, sliced, julienned and diced foods.  There are all kinds of mechanical devices to do this ranging from manual mandolins and slap choppers to electric food processors to stand mixer attachments.  Still the knife rules supreme for small, quick food prep jobs.  Cutting boards are a necessary piece of equipment in any home kitchen to help with the use of knives during food preparation.  They protect both your counter surface as well as the knife blade.  This weeks Frugal Kitchens 101 addresses the issue of cutting boards in the kitchen.

Cutting boards come in three materials and they range in cost from dollar store to higher end kitchen specialty store prices.  They come in a variety of sizes and colours as well.  Cutting boards can be built into the counter or they can be fully portable.  The current recommendations are you should have at least 3 cutting boards - one for fruits and vegetables, one for red meats and one for poultry.  I have 12 cutting boards in various sizes and compositions.  Here are my opinions on cutting boards based on what I have.

  • glass - Glass cutting boards are generally pebbled on the cutting surface.  Glass is easy to clean, dishwasher safe and non-staining.  Glass cutting board inserts were quite a popular countertop built-in addition for a few years.  Built-ins are still available if desired.  The problem with glass is it will dull your knives.  While I do have one glass cutting board it doesn't see a lot of use and I don't recommend them.
  • wood - Wood cutting board options range from butcher block built-in or stand alone models.  A true butcher block surface is a lovely addition to any kitchen.  Wood cutting boards require a bit of maintenance to keep their finish achieved by careful washing followed by oiling when dried.  Bamboo cutting boards are gaining favour.  These boards have a natural anti-bacterial action and resist staining with no need for maintenance other than hand washing.  Awhile ago I wanted to switch out all of my cutting boards in favour of bamboo but those is service are in too good of condition to do that.
  • plastic - Plastic cutting boards can be flexible so you can roll them up for storage or rigid.  By far I prefer the rigid plastic ones.  All are dishwasher safe with the biggest complaint being they do stain.  During tomato canning season my plastic cutting boards turn bright orange that gradually fades over the following year.  Some plastic compositions stain considerably less than others though.  If staining does not bother you these low cost cutting boards are the way to go!
The price of cutting boards is not always indicative of their quality or thickness.  My cutting boards break down into: 4 IKEA, 2 dollar store (1 bamboo, 1 plastic), 2 generic, 1 glass, 2 wood (custom made) and 1 Rubbermaid (commercial).  The only one that doesn't see much use is the glass one that was likely the most expensive.  Surprisingly the dollar stores are a good source for smaller cutting boards.  IKEA sells theirs in a package of 3 or 4 and you can even get colour coded for about $5.  My Rubbermaid cutting board is 15½ x 18" so it gets used for more than just cutting.  One of our kids made one of the wooden cutting boards while a friend made the other.  I like using the wood cutting boards for cutting breads.  A small investment of $20 should give you a wide range of durable cutting boards to suit your needs.

Cleaning cutting boards is not difficult.  I spray any plastic cutting board with an 80% ethanol solution then run them through the dishwasher.  We are a chlorine bleach free home so I don't worry about any staining on plastic cutting boards.  I also use the same solution on the wood cutting boards except for the bamboo which is naturally resistant.  Once the wood boards are cleaned I oil with a little vegetable oil then wipe dry.    I don't oil the bamboo cutting board.   It is simply washed and allowed to dry.

In summary, cutting boards are a must have piece of kitchen equipment that can be purchased for a small amount of cash outlay.  If you are starting out with none at all I would recommend bamboo followed by wood and plastic.  I don't recommend the glass cutting boards at all although if you happen to have one they are good for setting a nice planted herb display on in the kitchen.

2 food lovers commented:

LindaG said...

We like the bamboo cutting boards, too. :)

Garden Gnome said...

They are nice aren't they?