Thinking about it, cutting boards are incredibly versatile and among the most valuable kitchen accessories. You can use it as a chopping block, a surface for food preparation, or a serving station.
As a result, this indispensable kitchen accessory must be made of high-quality, long-lasting material. Wood is a popular choice for this, but What Woods are not Good for Cutting Boards?
Professional chefs prefer wooden cutting boards as they’re more impact resistant and sanitary to plastic, gentler on knife blades, and much less expensive than marble or granite. However, not all woods are great for use as cutting boards and you should be aware of what woods are not good for cutting boards.
What Woods Are Not Good for Cutting Boards?
As you may know, some woods are superior to others when it comes to making cutting boards. Certain types of wood, on the other hand, should not even be considered. Let’s take a closer look at what woods are not suitable for cutting boards to see why they’re unsuitable.
There is no denying that this wood is aesthetically pleasing. The finish on oak appears to be the ideal choice for any kitchen. While this holds true for furniture, it cannot be said for cutting boards. This is because oak absorbs a lot of water. As a result, cutting boards made of oak are susceptible to bowing. Oak cutting boards are pretty unstable and have a propensity to snap.
- Tropical Hardwoods
Tropical hardwoods are an unsustainable and unethical material for cutting boards. The Amazon rainforest, as we all know, is in danger, and wood sourced from this region should be avoided. However, there is another compelling reason to avoid tropical hardwood cutting boards.
If you plan on preventing bacteria from growing, tropical woods are frequently treated with harmful chemicals. These chemicals are susceptible to leaking and leaching, mainly when the wood is damp. This could be a severe issue if the wood comes into contact with your food during the preparation process.
This rich, dark brown wood is challenging and may appear to be the ideal choice for a cutting board. On the other hand, Rosewood tends to leach oils that can be toxic to people who are particularly sensitive to them.
How Do I Choose the Best Wood For Cutting Boards?
Consider the five key characteristics of a wood species when determining what woods are not good cutting boards:
- Janka hardness rating
Wood has a hardness rating, as does nearly every other material. The more complicated and more resistant wood is to scratches, dents, or dings from knives, the higher its Janka hardness rating (measured in pounds-force). Choose a hardwood with medium hardness, such as maple or cypress, over a softwood, such as pine.
Food-safe woods are those that produce edible fruits, nuts, leaves, or sap. While exotic woods such as Purpleheart are aesthetically pleasing, you should avoid them. They frequently contain toxins that can leach out of the wood and into food placed on the surface.
- Ease Of Cleaning
Some wooden cutting boards are prone to attracting stains and are challenging to clean. This problem is easily solved by looking for a cutting board with a special coating. This will both protect the natural wood and make your board easier to clean.
Choose closed-grain woods, which have pores invisible to the naked eye, to prevent liquid or bacteria from entering the cutting surface and causing mold growth, wood warping, or stains. As a result, bamboo is not the best choice despite its low cost due to its porous surface. Smaller pores are preferable. Open-grained woods featuring visible pores are not a good choice since they take in moisture like a sponge and become a breeding ground for bacteria rather quickly.
Each piece of wood contains three different grains. The face grain is the pattern that runs the length of the board. The edge grain runs down the narrow side of the board, while the end grain runs down the short side.
End grain cutting boards, in general, are the most durable and widely used. End grain cutting boards tend to be particularly resistant to marks and cuts. The next best option is edge grain boards, while face grain is the weakest of the three.
Woodcutting boards and butcher blocks should be treated with food-grade mineral oil, such as beeswax, to prevent the wood’s natural tendency to shrink, warp, or split as humidity levels fall. It would help if you did conditioning after cleaning wooden cutting boards is done every quarter for the average home cook. Remember that some woods shrink more than others, so you’ll need to oil them more frequently.
The cost of cutting surfaces bought in a store varies greatly depending on the wood type used in their construction. Because the bamboo tree overgrows, it is usually the least expensive material. Cutting boards are typically at the lower end of these ranges, while butcher blocks are higher. Alternatively, if you have the necessary tools, you could go out and buy the hardwood yourself and make a DIY cutting board.
What are the Types of Wood Grain?
Face grain, edge grain, and end grain includes the three surfaces of all lumber. The grain determines the appearance of the cutting board as well as its effect on your kitchen knives.
Face grain is the most appealing because it reveals all of the wood’s fibers. Long, narrow slats are connected at their shorter ends, with the grain running horizontally across the board. Face grain is the most cost-effective of the grains. It is, however, the most prone to being scratched by the blade of a knife. Because the board is cut across the grain, any damage is visible.
Edge grain is a quality and price step up. In construction, it is similar to face grain (the grain runs horizontally), but it uses the thicker sides, or “edge,” of the wood. The resulting board has more scratches than face grain but is more durable and less prone to warping. If you’re looking for a lighter, thinner model, an edge grain cutting board is an excellent place to start.
Because of its durability and traditional chopping block silhouette, this is a popular choice among many professionals. As opposed to long slats, end grain cutting boards arrange the most petite side of the wood slats in a checkerboard pattern. The surface of the cutting board is made up of many pieces.
The wood fibers are exposed in end grain boards to create a “self-healing” surface. The knife’s edge essentially goes between the fibers, and when the knife is lifted, the fibers close right back up. This catch-and-release mechanism reduces the board’s number of scratches while also being very gentle on knives.
On the other hand, end grain boards frequently have more glue seams (to connect the numerous wood pieces) and require more maintenance. The oil evaporates quickly because of the fibrous surface, necessitating additional conditioning to keep it in fine cutting form.
The Best Materials for Wooden Cutting Boards
We’ve made a compilation of the best woods for a cutting board based on the criteria listed above.
Cypress wood, such as Japanese Aomori hiba, contains more Hinokitiol (a bacteria-killing ingredient) than any other wood, making it anti-bacterial and mold-resistant. Hinokitiol also can eliminate ammonia odors in addition to the effect. As a result, cutting boards made of cypress have earned an excellent reputation for a long time, and they are common in Japanese homes and used as high-quality boards by Japanese professional chefs.
Furthermore, this wood is better for your cutting edge, which means your kitchen knives will stay sharper for longer, and the surface will stay clean. And it has a long-lasting, rich, refreshing wooden smell that’ll envelop your home with a feeling of living in nature.
Cypress’s citrus-sweet aroma may not appeal to everyone. Soft and hard maple both make excellent cutting surfaces in this case. Hard maple is the cutting board maker’s industry standard because it’s more scratch- and impact-resistant than beech or teak, although it’s not so hard that it dulls knives. Because it blocks bacteria, moisture, and stains, this food-safe, closed-grained hardwood has smaller pores than the alternatives listed below.
The disadvantage is that it causes stains. When it does develop stains, they are difficult to conceal due to their off-white to amber-yellow surface. Maple wooden cutting boards and butcher blocks are also more expensive than beech and cypress. As humidity decreases, they shrink more than teak and walnut, so you should condition maple cutting surfaces regularly, ideally monthly bimonthly.
Another great hardwood for the kitchen is walnut. One of the major selling points of walnut is its dark color, which hides stains. Walnut, like maple, is technically hardwood, which means it is both durable and soft enough not to blunt or damage your knives.
Even though it is softer than maple, it will last a long time. Like Japanese Aomori Hiba, Walnut falls into the “just right” hardness category, making it ideal for board and knife maintenance. This fine-grained wood is also food-safe, so it is commonly used in cutting boards and other kitchen items.
This food-safe, closed-grained hardwood is gentle on knives and provides exceptional scratch and impact resistance, rivaled only by cypress woods such as Aomori hiba and hard maple. Its petite pores make it nearly as effective as Aomori (and more effective than teak or walnut) at resisting bacteria, moisture, and stains.
However, its cream to pink or brown color is easily stained. After bamboo, beech is the most affordable material, but it shrinks more than the other three kinds of wood, so condition your cutting board monthly.
Teak is more resistant to scratches and impacts than walnut, but not as beech, cypress, or maple. On the other hand, as a tropical closed-grained hardwood, teak can cost more than £150-£300 per medium-sized board.
However, its high silica content causes your knife to become dull from frequent cutting. Teak shrinks less than the other three cutting board materials so that you can get away with conditioning it once every six months. Although, its large pores are more friendly to moisture, bacteria, and stains than cypress, maple, or beech.
Best Cutting Boards to Try
Sonder Los Angeles Large Multipurpose American Walnut Wood Cutting Board
This is a show-stopping board. It is constructed of American walnut with cherry and oak wood accents. You might find yourself leaving this one on your counter rather than storing it in a cabinet to show it off. It’s also ideal for displaying food—cheese plate enthusiasts will appreciate the board’s ability to serve cheese and charcuterie. That’s especially true since one side of the cutting board has a long groove ideal for a baguette or crackers.
This cutting board serves multiple purposes because it is reversible, you can use either side during food preparation. If you’re cutting up a ton of stuff, the indentation on one end helps partition off one ingredient or prevent round ingredients from rolling off the board. Click here to see on Amazon
John Boos Block Chop-N-Slice Maple Wood Edge Grain Reversible Cutting Board
This John Boos cutting board is significant so that it won’t slide around on your counter, but it’s not heavy or bulky. This attractive cutting board is made of wood and elegant enough to serve cheeses and meats, but it is also a kitchen workhorse. Because it is reversible, you can use the other side whenever you need a new cutting surface.
A one-year warranty is included with this cutting board. Because it is made of wood, it necessitates extra attention to keep it in good condition. It should not be left wet or washed in the dishwasher, and it must be pretreated before use. This extra care is worthwhile because this board was designed for professional use, and if properly cared for, it should last most home cooks a lifetime. Click here to see on Amazon
Conclusion on What Woods are not Good for Cutting Boards?
Be aware of food-toxic materials, hardness, and porosity when deciding on what woods are not good for cutting boards. Steer clear of open-pored woods such as ash and red oak, which will be more challenging to keep clean of food stains. Pine may have a gummy taste, and because it is soft, it will show knife-cutting scars easier than a more complicated wood like maple.
Stick with the tried-and-true close-pored woods for cutting boards: maple, walnut, beech, cypress (such as Aomori hiba), and teak. Overall, a cutting board’s most crucial aspect is that it does its job well. The board ought to be hard enough to dull your knives but not too hard that it becomes a hazard, washable, nontoxic, and dimensionally stable. Find more kitchen hacks here.