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Jun 14, 2008 01:12 PM

Cork Cutting Boards-Anyone Tried?

I saw a blurb in the current issue of Fine Cooking about cork cutting boards. Has anyone tried these? I like the sustainability aspect, but I'm not sure how good or fast a cutting surface it is. Is it hard on knives?

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  1. Considering how soft cork is, I can't think they are more than a farce.

    If you want a sustainable AND good board, get mesquite. It's very hard and mesquite grows very quickly.

    4 Replies
    1. re: meadandale

      I have several mesquite boards--one I made from a scrap of board I pulled out of a woodpile and two others that my father in law made for me and I LOVE THEM. They are not only the most beautiful things ever, they feel good against the knife (I have a problem with some white cutting board hardwoods and bamboo being too hard feeling--gives me that chalkboard/fingernail feeling) but they don't scratch up in a bad way with use.

      If I ever have a house of my own, I want to make the countertops mesquite. Definitely.

      1. re: TimeMachine

        Have you ever used a mesquite end grain cutting board?

        1. re: misterman

          No, all of mine are typical boards. Is it special?

      2. I can't imagine that you wouldn't be constantly gouging it which means that you'd have to replace it before too long. How sustainable is that?

        Maybe the best thing is to buy one really good cutting board like a Boos, take good care of it and you'll have it for decades - probably the rest of your life - and be able to pass it on to your kids. There are excellent old antique chopping blocks that are hundreds of years old that just look more beautiful with age.
        My board is at least 35 years old now and still looks great. The small utility boards I've bought every now and then have gone by the wayside and I stopped buying those ages ago.
        The best sustainability is just not buying stuff.

        1. I believe cork is too nasty of a surface to eat off of. One is better off with some well packed dirt IMHO.

          1. I have both sizes of the Architec cork board and I love them -

            I bought these to replace the last two of my husband's ancient plastic cutting boards, which due to their textured surface never really seemed clean.

            The Architec cork boards are half an inch thick - not flimsy in the least. The polished surface isn't porous, doesn't scar up like bamboo, and is very easy to keep clean. The cork is firm but has a slight bounce to it - the knife blade stays sharp noticeably longer. I oil them once a week with ordinary drug store mineral oil.

            I was surprised by how easily the cork surface cleans off - really, even the separate board I use for meat gets squeaky clean.

            All right, it isn't a Boos. I won't say it is. But I think the Architec boards are a worthy product at a decent price. (Beware - on my last visit I noticed that, in addition to the sturdy bigger Architec cork board, Broadway Panhandler sells a very thin, flimsy/more porous small cork cutting board. I have no idea what you could use this for except displaying a soft cheese - which its porousness precludes. So get the thicker one!)

            6 Replies
            1. re: plum

              This is the kind of report I was hoping for. I have a huge Boos board, but it's so heavy and I have problems lifting it. I also have bamboo because of the sustainability, but I don't like how hard the surface is compared to my Boos wooden board. I was hoping the cork board might be a happy medium but was concerned about the speed of the surface and porosity. You've definitely kicked me in the direction of at least trying the board - but how fast does the cork board seem compared to the Boos?

              1. re: farmersdaughter

                I had a big Boos I didn't use much - it's beautiful, of course, but like you said, very heavy, and something of a tyrant in my New York micro-kitchen - it occupied all available counter space in the kitchen, took up most of the sink when it needs to be washed, and then monopolized the dish rack. I gave it away to a good home with acres of kitchen counters.

                The cork board actually feels a bit faster - it's got a slightly springy response I don't get from hardwood - if you've ever walked around on cork flooring, you'll know what I mean. Great for worknight dinners - it makes the chopping go very quickly.

                The cork is definitely softer than the Boos, but it seems to self-heal and in five months hasn't accumulated many scars. The edges haven't begun to crumble either, although I am careful about making sure it doesn't sit in a puddle of water in the dishrack and regular oiling.

                I would still haul out the Boos for cleaver work, but otherwise I am very happy with the cork boards. The bamboo, well, cheese display.

                Best of luck and please let us know your results if you try out the cork boards.

                1. re: plum

                  Thanks. I have the San Francisco version of your New York kitchen. You've helped convince me to give the cork board a try. I'll report back after I've road tested it for a week or two.

                2. re: farmersdaughter

                  A quick semi-offtopic note here, but it's come up a few times recently: american hardwoods are almost entirely "sustainable" at this point. We leveled the forests two centuries ago and nearly all of what we're left with is under "sustainable" management. There's no real need to travel to the other side of the planet to find green things.

                  1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                    Good point - I didn't know that. But they still can't make wood lighter, and that is half of my problem!

                    1. re: farmersdaughter

                      Though on the other hand, cork is -fabulously- sustainable. The Spanish dehesa system, sparse forests of cork oak with herds of little black acorn-eating (and quite delicious) pigs, has been in place and working well for at least a thousand years.

                      Here's a good overview:

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