Your knife may have the crazy expensive Japanese steel in its blade, have been sharpened with perfected skills and have been used with extreme care, but you still find it getting dull quickly. Why is that? Let’s look past the knife, and examine what’s underneath it — what cutting board are you using?
An ideal cutting board
- helps retain the sharp edge of your knife
- is gentle to your wrist
- is anti-bacterial
- should be easy to clean and maintain
Between materials, size, coatings and prices, there are a few trade-offs to consider when finding a good cutting board.
Cutting boards are made of all types of materials today. Since we are aiming for knife edge retention, the harder materials are out of question; avoid glass, ceramic, granite and marble, or you would be spending more time at the whetstones, and the knives’ life span could be shortened due to frequent sharpening.
Good material options for cutting boards are wood, plastic and rubber.
A wooden cutting board usually comes with nice weight, making it a breeze to chiffonade herbs on top of it. Wood is on the softer end of the spectrum; besides it’s usefulness for edge retention, it is also less likely to result in damage to the wrist and cause less fatigue during long cutting sessions. Depending on the wood type, the cutting board’s softness, air drying speed and anti-bacterial level can vary.
That said, wooden cutting boards have their shortcomings. The smell of the food may linger. If not cared for properly, including leaving in the dish washer or direct sunlight to dry, wooden cutting boards can easily crack; fluctuation in temperature can also make them warp. If the cutting boards are not thoroughly dried out after use, mold can grow on the wooden surface.
Compared to the wooden ones, plastic cutting boards are a lot more easier to maintain for daily use. They don’t often crack, and some can even be cleaned in the dish washer. Plastic is anti-bacterial, making it the top cutting board choice for the professional kitchens.
Plastic cutting boards are not perfect, either. Plastic is harder than wood and dulls knives faster. The plastic cutting boards are usually lighter, and more slippery on a marble/granite counter top (use a non-slip shelf liner!) Wooden cutting board could last you a few years, but plastic ones much shorter.
A rubber cutting board combines the advantages of both wooden and plastic cutting boards: rubber is soft, anti-bacterial and easy to maintain. For its superior properties, rubber cutting boards are usually more expensive.
To take good care for your tools, you care for the tools that maintain your tools. Life is just meta like that. If you have been flattening your whetstones, isn’t it about time to upgrade your cutting board, too?