What are the best woods for cutting boards?
Glass cutting boards
Just kidding. Food prep can and should be easier than cutting on a glass board. A glass cutting board is far too hard a surface to use as a cutting board material if you want your knives to stay sharp longer. While it might be good to have a cutting board that is non-porous, the characteristic needs to be balanced with the impact cutting boards have on the durability of your kitchen knife edges at the cutting surface.
When a sharp knife comes incontact with a softer material it holds its edge longer. When it comes into contact with a harder material the apex of the cutting edge will start to fold one way or the other. When it's pushed too far, that part of the knife edge will bend off and become dull.
So, what other options do we have that are not too hard and not too soft?
Plastic cutting boards
Unlike wood, plastic boards are typically thin. Yet, a plastic cutting board can be a wonderful addition to any kitchen and food safety efforts. The core reason... cleanliness. Plastic boards tend to both wear well and clean easily. Consider cutting raw meat on plastic boards and running them in the dishwasher. Cut nothing else on these boards. This will reduce the likelihood that you'll have a 24-hour flu from cutting meat.
Yet, plastic cutting boards can only be made to look so good. Not only are they soft, and will show knife marks rather easily, there is little textural interest in plastic boards like a little wood edge grain or end grain.
Wooden cutting boards
Wooden boards, made of wood fibers, are some of the best cutting boards for cutting edge retention, cleanliness and looks. Most wood boards can be maintained over time with simple mineral oil treatments. Boards come in cherry wood, walnut, ash and basically every species of tree you can imagine.
Wooden cutting board material can be fashioned in unique ways to create edge grain boards and/or end grain boards. These boards are not only good cutting board materials they are also delightful to look at and cut on with your knife's edge.
Harder than many other wood cutting boards, you can think of bamboo boards being made of pressed grass of sorts. These are typically more porous than other wood cutting boards.
Some can be fashioned to appear like a grain board or an end grain board depending on construction. A smaller board might be great for a bar board where a larger board might work better for a carving board.
Having wood cutting boards is often about looks as much as purpose. And, who can argue with the beauty of Maple? The light color rivals teak boards in our opinion and makes food preparation all the more enjoyable for you and your knife's blade.
Composite board materials
A more recent development in cutting boards has come from mixing plastic cutting boards and wooden boards together. Well, not exactly the finished board materials but the materials before they are made into boards. These composite boards are often made to resist warping by nature of their extruded construction.
Consider a few rubber feet or a wet napkin under these composite boards to help keep them in place while performing chopping tasks.
If you had to pick three boards
With so many materials to choose from, what would you do if you had to pick three of the best boards? One, consider getting a plastic board for raw meat preparation. Two, grab a large composite board for your workhorse board. Three, consider an edge grain board for your show board. Our preference for looks would be maple.
If you had to pick one board material, go with plastic cutting boards. They're the most versatile.