Which Cutting Board is Best? All Materials at a Glance
The cutting board is a frequently underestimated tool in the kitchen. But, they are especially important for high-quality Japanese knives, so these special knives would keep their sharpness for a long time. They also make it easier for you to work in the kitchen.
In this article you will learn all about the different Japanese cutting boards, which cutting board has specific advantages and disadvantages, which cutting boards are the best and what you should look for when buying, so that you can find the right cutting board for your needs.
What cutting board to choose for your kitchen?
The perfect cutting board should be made of the right material. If the material is too hard, your knives will lose their sharpness in no time. If it is too soft, cut marks would be appear after a short time, in which harmful bacteria will start growing.
Materials, you should not use for cutting boards
Before I list the different materials, I want to briefly mention which materials should not be used under any circumstances:
Glass is probably the worst possible Material for knives. It is extremely hard and at the same time very brittle. Even with single use of such cutting board, the blade can become noticeably dull, so that the knife would no longer cut properly. Glass is at best suitable as a serving plate.
Everything that has the properties of stone, should also be avoided. Such material will wear out the blade just like the glass and very quickly. Japanese knives can even be permanently damaged from such use.
Hard cutting pads, such as those made of Slate or marble stone, which look nice of course, should be used at most as a serving plates but not for cutting boards.
The right size for cutting boards
Before you think about the material, you should first consider the size of the cutting board. In many households too small cutting boards are often used. Of course, the size must match the worktop, but in principle, the cutting boards should be slightly larger than what you think you would need.
The cutting board should be at least 30×40 cm in size, but preferably even larger. 40×50 cm is a very good cutting board size, where you have enough space to work safely on it.
The stability is hardly noticed a a quality in cutting boards, but it’s also very important. In addition to the size of the cutting board, it is the most important factor to work in your kitchen safely. Cutting boards should be difficult to move and if possible not to slip at all. In the ideal case, the cutting Board is relatively heavy and has a silicone or rubber feet to improve stability.
If the cutting board slips because it is too light, a non-slip cloth should be placed underneath it.
How should the cutting board be stored?
Another important aspect is storage. Should the board disappear somewhere in the drawer when it is not used or should it always be on the countertop? If you need to store it, you should rather buy a small, lighter cutting board. If it should lie on the worktop, you can buy a large, massive cutting board.
Plastic cutting boards
Plastic cutting boards are preferred in many households today. They are relatively cheap and you can usually store them relatively easily. Nevertheless, I don’t recommend plastic cutting boards. The same applies here as for cheap knives. They are cheap when you buy them, but in the long run you pay much higher price, because they have only a low shelf life and you will have to buy a new cutting board quite often.
Plastic cutting boards are unsanitary
Plastic cutting boards have many disadvantages. As already mentioned, they have a relatively low shelf life. This is due to the fact that they quickly develop cutting marks. Over time, these incisions become deeper and deeper, so that bacteria accumulate and multiply inside. If the cut marks are too deep, they are no longer properly cleaned, bacteria can multiply undisturbed and eventually end up in your food. And even cleaning in the dishwasher no longer helps.
Plastic in the food
By causing cutting marks in the plastic, tiny plastic particles are released from the cutting board and often land in the food you consume. If you don’t want plastic from the cutting boards in your food you should refrain from using plastic boards in your kitchen.
Plastic is easily deformed
Especially the cheap cutting boards, consist of low-quality plastic, which is very easily deformed. It’s enough if you put something really hot on it or clean it with too hot water. If the cutting board gets deformed, you wouldn’t be able to get it straight again. In addition, especially bright plastic cutting boards discolor very easily. Discoloration cannot be prevented with light cutting boards. You can try to clean the discoloration with bleach, but the deeper the cut marks, the more difficult the cleaning would be.
Environmental concerns factor
Although it is not the subject of this site, the issue of pollution affects each one of us. The plastic waste in the Seas and oceans is growing steadily and more and more animals starve because they have plastic in the stomach, which cannot be digested by these animals. In addition, the micro-plastic eventually ends up on our plates or in drinking water. Due to the limited shelf life of plastic boards you produce unnecessary garbage by using them.
Cutting boards made of silicone
Silicone cutting pads have about the same drawbacks as plastic, so I will only look at them here briefly. Silicone is a very soft material and is therefore very flexible. In contrast to plastic, you can also roll silicone pads and they will take very little space. Over time, silicone pads will also develop cut marks in which more and more bacteria will accumulate. Silicone is a great material, but not for cutting boards.
- does not let the knives become dull
- easy to store
- dishwasher safe
- low durability
- develops cutting marks relatively fast
- after a short time gets unhygienic
- gets slightly deformed, especially if in contact with very hot objects
- gets discolored with time
- Eventually plastic particles end up in the food
- Cheap cutting boards are often too light and slip easily
Silicone or plastic cutting boards are only recommended to a limited extent. In the long run, plastic is not only more expensive, but also a burden on health and the environment. Although the Wusthof cutting board is relatively high-quality for a plastic cutting board, it is still made of plastic and although slowly, it will have the same problems as cheap cutting boards made of plastic.
If you have the opportunity, you should rather buy cutting boards from another material.
Cutting boards made of rice husks
Plastic boards get over time cut traces, discolor and become unhygienic. These problems do not arise with cutting boards made of rice husks. Rice husks are much harder than plastic, so they do not develop any cut marks, even after prolonged use. The fact that there are no cut marks prevents them from becoming unhygienic too.
In addition, these cutting boards are dishwasher-safe and can also be easily cleaned by hand.
Since rice husks are renewable resources, this cutting board is also environmentally friendly and biodegradable. Therefore, it is especially suitable for environmentally conscious people.
Even if they are the far better alternative to plastic, there is a small drawback: because the rice husks are relatively hard, the blade becomes dull a little faster than, for example, when using cutting boards made of wood. Many will not even notice this difference, but I wanted to mentioned it here.
- dishwasher safe & easy to clean
- no cut marks
- eco-friendly & biodegradable
- visually similar to plastic
- due to the hardness of the material, the knives wear out slightly faster
If you have used plastic cutting boards and don’t want to use wooden cutting boards, you should consider cutting boards made of rice husks. They are not only better and healthier, but also more environmentally friendly and cheap. In my opinion, they are the better alternative to plastic cutting boards. Therefore, cutting boards made of rice husks are a clear winner for buying recommendation here.
Wooden cutting boards
Wood is probably the oldest and most proven material for cutting boards. It has many advantages, which is why it is particularly suitable as a material for cutting boards. It’s robust and resistant, not too light and not too heavy, is antibacterial and can also be sanded if needed.
But each type of wood has different properties, which gives the cutting board different qualities. Some varieties are particularly soft, others are particularly hard, some require a lot of care, others very little.
In the case of cutting boards made of wood, there is still something to consider, namely the so – called longitudinal and frontal timber. Longitudinal wood and front wood describes basically, how the wood was cut to the fiber. If the wood is cut and elongated to the fiber, it is called longitudinal wood. If the wood is cut transversely to the fiber, it is called end-grain wood (or Wood-grain).
The most easy-to-care wood cutting board is the Epicurean wood fibre laminate cutting board. Overall, I would classify these cutting boards better than plastic, but worse than cutting boards made of rice husk, something in between.
Epicurean cutting boards are made of crushed wood fibers that have been compressed, creating a relatively hard and cut-resistant surface. It is also dishwasher-safe and therefore relatively easy to clean. If you want a small, easy to store cutting board made of wood, you can buy the Epicurean cutting board without hesitation.
Bamboo cutting boards are now quite popular, because they are made of wood, but at the same time are relatively inexpensive. However, bamboo is quite hard and this makes it very bad for the sharpness of your normal or Japanese knives. The reason for the hardness is a relatively high proportion of silicate, which is why bamboo is harder than most other wood species. Another problem is the high amount of adhesive that must be used for the production of the bamboo cutting boards. The hard adhesive also has a negative effect on the knives.
In the case of chipping boards, the hardness of the material is not so important, because you deal with knives for rough work, whose blades are relatively insensitive to wearing.
Cutting boards made of teak wood
Teak is very well suited as a material for cutting boards. This wood is very durable, requires very little care and will not bend at all. The tree grows in tropical areas such as India and Indonesia. In these regions, the teak tree must withstand heavy rains, termites and mushrooms. This makes Teakwood very resistant, and it contains natural oils that would preserve and keep the wood moist. Cut marks are also less visible than on other types of wood.
Therefore, teak is a clear buying choice, especially for people who want to have an easy-to-care wood cutting board.
The most common types of wood for cutting boards
The most common and most popular are hard wood cutting boards such as maple, walnut, cherry or oak. In the case of Oak, however, you have to make sure that it comes from Europe. American oak is not as well suited as a cutting board material due to its open pores.
Maple, walnut, cherry and Oak not only look nice, but also have the right hardness for knives and are also resistant and robust. However, these woods require a little more maintenance than teak. All in all, however, you can do nothing wrong if you choose a cutting board made of these types of wood.
For the sake of completeness, let me briefly mention Hinoki as a kind of wood. Hinoki is one of the Cypress plants and grows exclusively in Japan. Hinoki is a fine wood and in Japan is commonly used for the construction of royal palaces and temples. This wood is especially soft and is particularly suitable for Japanese knives. Thanks to the essential oils, Hinoki wood has also a very pleasant fragrance.
If you want a traditional Japanese cutting board for Japanese knives, you should choose this wood.
Advantages of wood cutting boards
- Natural product
- environmentally friendly
- very pleasant to work with
- Wood is the best and preferred material for household use overall
- Teakwood is very resistant and requires little care
- long shelf life with proper care
Disadvantages of wood cutting boards
- Wood requires a little more care than other materials
- Wood can also bend/deform if handled incorrectly
- Bamboo is not suitable as a cutting board due to its hardness
- Wood cutting boards are not dishwasher-safe
Wood is and remains the best material for cutting boards. It is antibacterial, you can do everything on it and it will last with the right care for a lifetime. In the end it is an individual decision, what kind of wood you choose, but overall, teak, cherry, walnut, European oak and maple are the best.
Synthetic rubber Japanese cutting boards
Polyvinyl and synthetic rubber cutting boards are among the highest quality cutting boards. They are often used by Japanese cooks because they are so resistant and durable.
Advantages of synthetic rubber
Synthetic rubber combines all the advantages of previous materials, but without their disadvantages. It is very soft and thus protects the blade and ensures a long lasting cutting work. Unlike other materials, synthetic rubber does not develop cut marks and does not get discolored. This means that these cutting boards will still look like new after years of use. As there would be no cut marks, no bacteria can multiply on the board.
In addition, these cutting boards can not bend in wet conditions, such as wood or plastic would, because synthetic rubber does not absorb liquids. If you choose this type of cutting board you will probably have an extremely high-quality cutting board for a lifetime, which does not deform and always looks like brand new.
The best known and highest quality brands are Hasegawa and Asahi, they are mainly used in Japan by professional chefs. Other well-known and high-quality cutting boards are of Yoshihiro and Tenryo or Sani Tuff.
These cutting boards are of course not cheap but from time to time there are good deals on Ebay too. We foreigners have the disadvantage, that these cutting boards are difficult to get outside Japan. This means you have to either buy them directly in Japan or for example, have them imported from America. Additional customs costs may be incurred. Anyone who accepts this little detail will get very high quality and durable cutting boards.
- does not develop cut marks
- does not warp or bend
- does not discolor
- thanks to the soft surface, these cutting boards are gentle to the blade, i.e. knives and especially Japanese knives remain sharp for a long time
- needs only little maintenance, only hot water and possibly some detergent sometimes
- relatively expensive
- most likely needs to be imported
Synthetic rubber are mainly Japanese cutting boards and are superior to Wood cutting boards in almost all aspects. Although these cutting boards are probably the best available, I would still classify them just behind wood cutting boards.
This is for the simple reason that these cutting boards are relatively difficult to obtain outside Japan and must first be imported. Wood cutting boards, on the other hand, can be bought anywhere. However, if you are willing to make the decision and import a board like this, you will undoubtedly buy one of the best cutting boards.
So, In Summary
Plastic and silicone cutting boards are not recommended in my opinion. They don’t last long, could easily become unhygienic after a short time and have to be disposed of at some point. In addition, plastic particles separate over time, which is then consumed with the food. In addition, plastic cutting boards unnecessarily pollute the environment.
Cutting boards made of rice husks are the far better alternative. They are made from renewable raw materials, are antibacterial and relatively cheap. The only disadvantage is the hardness, so knives have to be sharpened slightly more frequently.
Of the wood types, I would most likely use teak, cherry, walnut, European oak or maple cutting board. Bamboo, however, I would buy only if there is nothing better, because bamboo wood is very hard and the blade quickly becomes dull.
The best cutting boards are made of synthetic rubber and are perfect for Japanese knives. They are particularly popular in Japan and lately also in America. Outside of Japan they are difficult to get and would have to be imported. If you choose to use these cutting boards, you will get the best cutting boards you can buy with your money.