Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >
Oct 18, 2010 06:08 PM

One Pot, One Knife

I'm a college freshman who's looking to get the above (to use in a communal dorm kitchen, but keep for myself). Obviously I'd like things to be on the cheaper side, but I'd also like them to be durable. I'm mostly interested in the pot for soups/stews, and the knife for fruits and vegetables, but versatility would be a big plus.

I don't have any ideas for pots right now, but I was looking at this knife...

...although I'd really prefer something under $20.

I'm also picking up a cutting board and a stirring/serving spoon of some sort, but recommendations for those don't seem as necessary.

Thanks in advance!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. zoo: I think your knife idea is a good one--great value for the money, and the classic do-all shape. Forschner is a good maker. My dad used a lot of high-carbon Forschners in his slaughterhouse.

    For your pot, if you live in a city that has a World Imports store, they have 2 sizes of thick enameled cast iron pots on sale (5Q round $49, 6Q oval $59). They are very heavy (actually about as heavy as Staub and LC), come in 4 or 5 colors, and the enamel looks pretty good. I forget the brand name, but it is a Chinese import.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kaleokahu

      Agree with you and kaleokahu on the knife -- Forschner/Victorinox makes probably best relatively cheap knives around, and an 8-inch chef's knife is about the most versatile thing you can have in your kitchen.

      Since you'll be doing lots of fruit/vegetables, you might also consider picking up a paring knife from the same brand at some point for less than $10 -- the two knives together can probably handle 95% of common kitchen tasks.

      Kaleokahu has a reasonable recommendation for enameled cast iron, if you're looking to do primarily soups and stews. If you want to go cheaper, you could get a plain cast iron dutch oven from (say) Lodge for ~$30, but that could be reactive with some soups, particularly with tomato or other acidic bases.

      If you want $20 range for the pot as well, you're looking at stainless steel or aluminum. Stainless tends to heat unevenly, so you need to look for something with a thick bottom or else you'll get major hot spots -- on the plus side, stainless holds heat really well, which is useful for cooking soups and stews. A better option would be stainless with an aluminum disk in the base, but I'm not sure how cheap those come.

      Aluminum is much lighter but conducts heat much better. You can often find non-stick aluminum pots in this range, which are cheap but probably fine for a few years' use if you don't use metal utensils in them. Plain aluminum could be reactive with some things, so if you're looking for versatility in the ultra-cheap price range, I think non-stick aluminum is your best choice. The better heat conductivity would make it useful for general cooking as well as slow-simmered soups/stews.

      In terms of versatility, honestly, if you got, say, a wide ~4-quart non-stick aluminum pot for around $20, you could (in theory) not only use it for soups, stews, braising, and deep frying, but also for sauteing or pan-frying. You could fry eggs in it, even -- it could be annoying to get your hand in there if you'd like to flip them over-easy, but scrambled would be fine. I don't know about pancakes, though -- that would take some contorting. :)

    2. For a pot for soup and stews, a cast iron Dutch Oven is great. I like bare cast iron Dutch Ovens because thye are more verstalie. You can sear in them. You don't have to worry about overheating a bare cast iron cookware and you can use any utensil you like. That said, a cast iron Dutch Oven can be a bit limited beause it heats up very slowly. For example, if you want to make those 3 minute instant noodle, well too bad, your cast iron Dutch Oven will takes >10 minutes to boil the water. For versibility, I may pick a thinner cookware. Maybe a large stainless steel sauce pan. If you really want versilibility, I did go with one of these deep saute pans:

      This is 3-quarts, so get the size you want. They are deep enough so you can make soup, and shallow enough that you can also saute in it. Not necessary this pan per se, but you get the idea.

      As for knife, Victorinox is an excellent choice for a German chef's knife. Dexter-Russell is not bad neither:

      These are about the cheapest and still give you quality. The only other decent quality knives at a lower price range are the Kiwi knives. They are difficult to find, but they are usually about ~$10. Kiwi does produce the German/French Chef's knives, but those are even more difficult to find. A few good reviews for Kiwi knives:

      As for knife shape, the most popular ones are German chef's knife, French chef's knife, Japanese gyuto, Japanese Santoku and Chinese chef's knife.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        I second the Dexter-Russell knives. For many years my main go-to knife was their Chinese cleaver.

        Or you can get it with a "soft grip" that comes in red, blue or black

        I found I cut myself almost never with this knife (I would say never but I'm not sure my memory is that reliable, LOL!) There's a technique I can't describe but you can see it here:

        That's not the Dexter cleaver he's using there. He USED to use the Dexter Cleaver but that's some other knife. It's actually cheaper, like $20 on his website.

        Anyway, if I were getting just one knife I'd go for a Chinese Cleaver. Good for everything EXCEPT chopping through bones. Actually, he debones AND JOINTS a whole chicken with his new knife in 18 seconds:

        1. re: ZenSojourner

          Dexter-Russell Chinese knvies are respected among Chinese especially in the West Coast (I used to live there). Dexter has a very long history with Chinese-Americans. It was the first US manufacturer to make Chinese knives, and good quality knives too. Even in the East Coast here, Dexter Russell Chinese knives are respected. I went to Philly Chinatown to a kitchen warehouse. I went to the counter and asked the owner why doesn't he carry Dexter-Russell. He said, "Of course, we do" and dragged out some Dexter knives from the shelves behind him. He simply did not want to put these knives out in open display because he worries about people ruining them, so he put them behind the counter.

          In the above video, Martin Yan used the drag cut for the cucumber. Now, I am not a big fan of the drag cutting technique. I do use it, but rarely. It is slower and more dangerous than push cut and chop, but food stick to this drag cutting the least due to the smaller surface area contact. Here are some Chinese chef's knife techniques. Of these five technique, I use the drag technqiue the least.

          Martin Yan first advertized the US Dexter Russell knife, so that was one of his first knives on TV. Then he used the German Messermeister knife which was the knife he used in the above video. Now, I have no idea who Martin parts with. The knife you saw on that above video (Messermeister) is not the same knife you saw in his store. Different makers.

      2. Have you considered the Victorinox santoku? I think the shape might be better as a do-all tool since it has a broader blade & can be used to help scoop stuff off of the cutting board. (It's also a bit less expensive.)

        1. Thanks for all the quick replies! Lots of good info here.

          Aggregating your suggestions, it looks like the Victorinox Fibrox + Paring Knife would be a good way to go (I looked at the Santoku, but I've never used a Santoku knife and the price difference seems pretty negligible). Side question about knife storage - how? A block clearly isn't practical. As far as storage space goes, I've got a few shelves and a drawer. At any rate, as far as knives, I'm looking at:

          Pots seem a little more complicated. I was actually looking at getting a dutch oven, since it seemed like a good fit - relatively cheap, durable, and versatile. However, I've been cautioned by relatives that dutch ovens require both long cooking times and fairly constant attention, which I'm not prepared to give (sorry!). And I do like tomato-type soups, so that's another strike against the dutch oven. As far as aluminum and non-stick, I'm a bit nervous about both, since I've heard some unpleasant stuff about aluminum's reactivity, and non-stick is, well, a chemical coating. That said, I've cooked with non-stick before and am probably being a little too paranoid here. However, I did find a stainless steel pot described as "stainless steel exteriors around an aluminum core", which would seem to combine the inertness of stainless steel with the heat distribution of aluminum. More specifically, this model. Thoughts?

          And finally, the cutting board, which turns out to be more complex than I'd expected. Since I'm not in any position to sharpen knives regularly + I'll rarely, if ever, work with raw meat, I thought bamboo was a good choice (aesthetically pleasing, too). As I understand it, I have to rub the thing down with some sort of mineral oil when I'm starting out...but that shouldn't be too hard, right? Anyone want to chime in on why I should pick another board material? Anyway, I'm looking at this specific one:

          The reason everything is an Amazon link is because I've got an Amazon Prime trial membership going, so can get free 2-day shipping on this stuff. And even then, this is coming out to nearly $100. Eep.

          49 Replies
          1. re: zooxanthellae

            It looks like you have the knife thing sorted out, good choice.

            For your needs I would think a tri-ply SS pan with Al core would work the best. Since you will not be cooking for a large group I would suggest a 4 qt. sauce pan such as this:
            And at $47 it's not going to break the bank. The tri-ply gets around the aluminum, the plastic coating, and the slow heating of cast iron. The Al core will aid with thermal conduction for good heating and minimze hot spots and should work great with any type of soup or stew. You can probably get 3 or 4 servings from one pot of soup.

            1. re: zooxanthellae

              The bamboo laminates tend not to perform very well as cutting boards. It's the end-grain boards like this one that perform best:


              I'd just get a good quality polyethylene board similar to this one (a nice THICK one, not a thin one):


              As for the one pot idea - I just don't think over the long term you'll be happy with that. I'd suggest shelling out the extra $35 for a complete set of T-Fal, understanding that lifetime warranty or no lifetime warranty, it won't last forever. But it should get you through school and even grad school if you're moderately careful with it. These have a lifetime warranty and you can (but probably shouldn't) use metal utensils in them:


              Do NOT even bother with a set that has a lesser warranty or that doesn't say you can use metal utensils. It's not worth the few bucks you'll save. These won't last a lifetime either, but they'll last long enough to get you through school. My son has one T-Fal pan that he's had since he was a freshman and while it's not unmarred (there are some visible scratches in the coating) it's not peeling down to bare metal and it still functions pretty well as a nonstick pan. Just assume you're going to replace them when you can afford better.

              The whole set is only $35 more than for that one pan. Also, ask yourself - do you REALLY need to cook soup for 6 to 12 people? An 8 quart stockpot doesn't seem to me to be your best bet in a dorm situation unless you really are planning to feed the whole floor.

              I don't know what your relatives have against dutch ovens, but I wouldn't be without one. They require no closer watching than any other kind of pot. And whatever you are cooking, you should not walk away and leave it to percolate away by itself. I keep an eye on the stove even when I'm just simmering something. That doesn't mean you have to hover, but I see no disadvantage to a dutch oven over any other kind of pan. Not sure where that's coming from.

              Another option is to look for used pots and pans through something like Craig's list. You might be able to pick up some really good cookware cheaply that way. Sometimes people buy something and then don't like it, or they have 2 sets and don't want to move both, or they get something as a gift that they don't want. At mininum I would suggest a 3 qt saucepan, a 6 qt dutch oven, and an 8" to 10" fry pan. If you're going to do any cooking at all, you'll find you want these at a minimum.

              Seriously, you're a student - you're never going to make a box of mac 'n cheese? You're not going to want a grilled cheese sandwich to go with that tomato soup? (Which, btw, you could heat up in the microwave in a cheap pyrex bowl


              But if you're married to the idea of a great big 8 qt stock pot, this is the one my son has:


              He got it at Kohl's or something. It looks like Target may carry it as well.

              I know it's the same brand, and the one you're looking at says its 18/10 stainless as well. But looking at that there's something about it that doesn't look right to me. Maybe it's the matte finish (assuming its a matte finish). But the handles look cheap and the lid handle looks too small. I don't know. Also, he loves the convenience of being able to cook pasta in his without having to have a separate strainer. He's had his for over 4 years now and it still looks new.

              My recommendation would still be to go for more than one pan. Unfortunately it's probably cheaper to buy a set even if you only want 3 pans because buying by the piece is really expensive. But again, you might be able to find a deal on Craig's list.

              Oh yeah, and pick yourself up an Accusharp:


              That one knife of yours will get dull really fast. The Accusharp is easy to use and hard to screw up with.

              1. re: zooxanthellae


                Santoku is pretty to use, but pick what you like. I don't know why you said a knife block is clearly not practical. Are you worry about it is a dorm kitchen? You can just buy knife gurad then.

                You worry too much about Teflon nonstick cookware. If anything, the only concern is at high temperature when Teflon disintegrate, but you will never reach that temperature by cooking soup. That said, if you like cladded cookware, that is fine, they are just more expensive as athanasius said. I am not a big fan of Faberware. I would try another brand. For cutting board, I won't use bamboo. They look good, but they quickly dull knife edges. An end gran cutting board is the great, but a rubber (not any plastic) cutting board is highly regarded among professional cooks.


                If not, just any wood board is better than bamboo.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Whoa, CK, that's a $60 to $70 investment! For a CUTTING BOARD. LOL!

                  What don't you like about a PE board?

                  They can tend to slide around, but the one I've got doesn't do that. I don't know why not. I've had others that did. You can put a stop to that by putting a piece of that rubbermaid sticky shelf liner stuff under it though.

                  1. re: ZenSojourner

                    Mine rubber board is less than $30. It is 12" X 18" big enough for most people. Anyway, a good end grain cutting board is usually about $150-250, so rubber is very cheap in comparison. That said, my main cutting board is this one:


                    PE board problems? The major ones for me are sanitation difficulty, short life time, ... etc.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      whoaa.. is that one big piece of tree lumber on top of a cutting board, or a foodsuff i can't identify (a roll of tofu??) sitting on a cutting board?

                      1. re: iyc_nyc


                        My apology. That picture was taken for the square pastry board the bottom.
                        That top round thing is my chopping block/cutting board. The post was really about my pastry board was warped and then I was able to flatten it out by putting my chopping block on top of the pastry board overnight. If you click here, you will see the original post:


                        It is moderate in size 14" diameter, but it is deep (thick). I thought about getting the 15", but that would have created even more problems for cleaning it in a sink. It is a nice cutting board. No split, no crack, no warping.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          haha, i can see where that thing won't split! what a beauty, wish i could fit it in my little kitchen w no counter space...

                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Sanitation difficulties? For something you can pop in the dishwasher or scrub down with bleach anytime?

                        Originally they were thought to be "cleaner" than wood, but lately it seems the consensus is that they're at least no worse.

                        Remember this is a freshman living in the dorms. Even a $30 cutting board is overkill in this situation, and I couldn't find that rubber thing listed for less than $57. Not saying it's not out there somewhere, just saying I couldn't find it via Google.

                        Also remember we're not talking about your $1000 Japanese babies here that you obsessively sharpen due to (what was it you called it?) OKSCD? Obsessive Knife Sharpening Compulsive Disorder? LOL!

                        I don't know about a short life time either. Mine's at least 15 years old. But again, we're talking dorm living here, where things sometimes have a tendency to grow legs and walk off, so simple (and cheap) is better.

                        1. re: ZenSojourner

                          ZS: Don't mind CK, he likes to argue both sides. I think awhile back he responded to my claim that wood was MORE sanitary than plastic with something like "They're about equal". I think he's going to respond that the PE boards, not being self-healing, are more prone to harboring bacteria (why wood wouldn't also, who knows?)

                          I have several chunks of commercial butcher-thickness 1" PE boards that I use for game and home butchery. Probably 25 years old. When they get cut or cleaved or dinged enough, out comes the power sander and the bacteria hate the smoothness.

                          1. re: kaleokahu


                            " think awhile back he responded to my claim that wood was MORE sanitary than plastic with something like "They're about equal""

                            Actually, if you are going to quote me, then please quote me correctly then. What I said was that they are about the same on day 1 when the wood and plastic boards are brand new, but they are not the same when knife marks and scars are made. Polyethylene cutting boards become progressively unsanitary as they age. There is a difference between "argue from both sides" and taking a "balanced stance". I actually have no changed my position on this issue.

                            Sanding a polyenthylene board actually makes it worse in most cases. It may look smooth to a human eye, but microorganisms are much smaller and if you use a microscope there are more cuts, more scars.

                            "Sometimes it is suggested that old polymer cutting boards be sanded to remove deep knife cuts. This is a very poor suggestion, because the sanding will leave deep scratches in the polymer."

                            -- by O. Peter Snyder, Jr., Ph.D.

                          2. re: ZenSojourner


                            I don't have $1000 Japanese knives. Polymer cutting boards have short lifetimes because you cannot sand they down when they get old, unlike wood cutting boards and rubber cutting boards. I bought my rubber cutting board for $27, but that is not the point. I have placed a ranking. I put end grain wood first, then rubber, then edge grain wood boards. Don't forget that you have pointed to a $45 dollar end grain bamboo cutting board from Amazon up above, your link:


                            so what you had in mind is more expensive than what I had in mind. By the way, end grain bamboo cutting boards do not work right. Unlike end grain wood, an end grain bamboo board does not heal properly.

                            Of course, you can keep using these plastic cutting boards if you want, I can keep wearing the same cloth for a year without washing it. What does really prove? These poly boards are progressively less sanitary as they age. You ask me a question, and I gave my answers. If you have made up your mind about the your answers, then please don't ask me for my opinions next time. Thanks.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              I DID point to that as an example of an end grain bamboo cutting board, not because I expected him to buy it! LOL!

                              As for your contention that PE gets nasty, not if you wash it. Test at CI in 2008 indicate that PE boards still hold the edge over wood as long as you clean the board after use, which we ALWAYS do.

                              From this article -

                              "Experts disagree on whether wood or plastic cutting boards are the most sanitary. Most governmental agencies in the United States recommend plastic, while other experts say scarred, rutted plastic cutting boards can harbor just as much bacteria as wood. In either case, cutting boards need to be cleaned and maintained, and care must be exercised to avoid cross-contamination. For example, you'll need to disinfect a cutting board between chopping raw meat and cutting vegetables for a salad, or have separate cutting boards each task."

                              You state as fact something that has not been proven and at best is under contention. Cite your sources.

                              The proof is in the pudding though, as they say. I've been using PE for 30 years and I've never had a problem with "sanitation". I'll admit I rarely cut meat, but even if I did, I wouldn't use a wooden board. That's just my preference. I also routinely immerse my PE board in a bleach/water solution to sanitize.

                              The sanituff boards may be the best thing to slice bread on since, well, sliced bread, but they ARE pricey, at least the ones I could find:

                              $85 at


                              $73 at


                              Those are just the links that came up on google in the first 20 hits. There may very well be more affordable sources - you could start by providing yours, for instance. At $30 or so I might invest in one myself, but not for the prices I'm finding online!

                              So insult away! or provide facts. The choice is yours. Insults are easily ignored.

                              You seem to be knowledgeable about a lot of things. But when someone disagrees with you, you have a tendency to fall back on insults, innuendo, and nasty comments. It is possible for people to disagree without resorting to making snide remarks about personal hygiene.


                              1. re: ZenSojourner

                                If you are happy with your choice, then be happy with it. There is no reason to try to converse me of your choice. CI is not always correct. It was wrong about an article on wok, it was wrong about the Japanese knife testing article…. Actually putting the PE board in bleach solution can make it worse in the long run. Quoting CI is not actually considered as providing facts. CI is not a scientific journal and I don’t think it has ever claimed to be. Have you considered that maybe I have read data on this matter and have formed my opinion? I am not trying to convince you to do anything. You ask me a question about why I don't use polyethene boards and I gave my honest answer. Sanitary is one of my reasons. If you think the reason is unfounded, that is perfectly fine, and please just leave it at that.

                                No one has insulted you. I didn't even address you in my original response, and you were the one who asked me that why didn't I mention PE. Do I have to like PE board because you like it? I don’t remember asking you why you did not mention rubber boards, did I? If anything, you are the one who insulted people repeatedly. Remember the Teflon boards which five people repeatedly disagreed with you for saying that Teflon is not PTFE? You said “5 posters quibbling over the use of the term "Teflon" does not make any impact whatsoever on how the term is used by the public at large. Again, quibble away.” Yeah, that sounds very respectful and mature.

                                My point is that just because you use a poly board for years does not mean it is sanitary. That does not prove anything, just like the fact that I can wear the same cloth for a year, does not prove it is clean. Unfortunately, any analogy I rise will be about sanitary and hygiene. Isn’t it? I don’t mind answering and exchanging ideas with people if they are honest about the conversation, but you seem to have formed your opinions very strongly and are just looking for some fun. Frankly, I don’t want to play.

                                I failed to understand why I have to prove to you that I bought my rubber board for $27. I said I did and I know I did. My friends here also know I did and that is enough for me.

                        2. re: ZenSojourner

                          Excuse my ignorance, but what is a "PE" board?

                          1. re: John E.

                            Polyethylene. Although apparently some of these are now made of polypropylene. I wonder if it's a polypropylene board that I have now, and that's why it behaves somewhat differently than my old PE cutting board.

                            1. re: ZenSojourner

                              So is the the board that I use that I refer to as white nylon really polyethlene? We have several, and a black one from Ikea that I don't like because it's too thin and it warps. I also have an Epicurious cutting board made with wood and composits that I got for .49 cents at a thrift store.

                              1. re: John E.

                                Honestly I don't know. I thought they were all polyethylene until I came across something this morning about a polypropylene board and I can't remember who made it or where I saw the reference. I'll go look though. My beans are simmering (pasta e fagiole tonight, YUM) so I've got some free time.

                                1. re: ZenSojourner

                                  OK, here's what I've found:

                                  There are things labeled "Nylon" cutting boards. Many of them are intended for industrial purposes, not cooking.

                                  Of those cutting boards intended for cooking which are labeled "nylon", all but one of the ones I looked at are actually polyethylene. The one exception stated it was "teflon". I would think that would be a surface treatment, not the composition of the entire board. It was actually not a board at all but a flexible pad.

                                  Most cutting boards for cooking are PE. A few I found were polypropylene. Polypropylene is supposed to be longer wearing than PE; however, that's because it's harder, which makes it also somewhat harder on your knife blades.

                                  If you are a knife fanatic (I say that with love!) this may bother the heck out of you. Don't use it then.

                                  Other than the difference in hardness I'm unsure that there is any other significant difference between the two materials.

                                  There is little difference between wood and PE boards when it comes to sanitation, assuming both substances are being properly cleaned and disinfected between uses. And yes, I've read studies that looked at old PE boards as well as new.

                                  Here's one such study - "VALIDATION THAT SCARRED CUTTING BOARDS


                                  Proper sanitation for ANY board means:

                                  Scrub the board with hot water and soap after use, or run through the dishwasher (can't do the dishwasher thing with wood but you can certainly scrub it down


                                  Even if you've washed the board, use a disinfecting solution on a regular basis to kill residual bacteria. Spray your board and let stand for AT LEAST 10 minutes before rinsing:

                                  a 1 to 10 dilution of bleach in water. That would be 1 T of bleach in 9 T (1/2 c plus 1 T) of water. Can't use this on wood. I make up small amounts at a time so it's always fresh. You should always discard any that is left over after a week.


                                  Distilled white vinegar, full strength, followed by hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). I don't know what the dilution ratio should be for the H2O2 and of course that would partially depend on the strength of H2O2 with which you started. This works equally well for either PE or wooden boards.

                                  I assume these solutions would also work for bamboo and the Sani-Tuff boards as well.

                                  The other thing is to make sure you dry your board as soon as you are done cleaning/sanitizing. Don't let it sit around wet. Doesn't matter what it's made of, if it has standing water (not sanitizer) on the surface it will grow bacteria.

                                  The way I do it is I rinse the board after use and stick it in the dishwasher if there's room. If not I scrub it down with a green scrubby and dish soap. Then I wipe it dry and let it air standing on end in the dish rack (the one on the counter)

                                  About once a week, or if I've cut meat on it recently, I spray it with a bleach based disinfectant spray, let that stand for 10 minutes, rinse, dry, repeat on the other side so I get both sides (btw I lay it across my dish drainer so the bottom side is suspended in air). Rinse again, wipe dry, stand on end in the dish strainer until it dries thoroughly.

                                  At any rate, if you clean your board and sanitize/disinfect it regularly, whatever it's made of, wood or PE or rubber or bamboo, that's all that you need to do for food safety. If you like wood, use wood. If you like Bamboo, use that. If you like PE, that's fine too, and so is the rubber board (Sani-Tuff) if that's what floats your boat. You're not going to food poison anyone as long as you're cleaning your board.

                                  Much riskier are the sponges and dish clothes people usually have hanging around their sinks. I use a clean dishrag every day, sometimes 2. My grandmother, god bless her, used to keep the same dish rag hanging off the kitchen spout until I swear to god it could crawl into the laundry by itself. People often do the same thing with sponges, not realizing that no matter how much soap you squirt on your sponge when you're using it, that doesn't make up for the fact that its a happy happy damp moist warm breeding ground for microbes the rest of the time. With a sponge (if you insist on using one, as my son does, *sigh*) you need to soak it in a disinfecting solution at least a couple times a week. I'm pretty sure you can use the same solution - 1 to 10 - as above. Clean the sponge first (rinse out as much residual soap as possible). Soak the sponge for at least 10 minutes, then wring it out and hang it up to dry in an airy spot. Drying ASAP is always important to keep new bacteria from gaining a foothold. MICROWAVING your sponge or putting it through the dishwasher WILL NOT disinfect it. The heating is too uneven. I did try to machine wash a sponge - once. It came out of the washing machine coated in lint and hair (bleah!).

                                  As a side note, someone could check my math on this, but the solution strength that Clorox recommends - 3/4c bleach to a gallon of water - I am pretty sure that's half as strong as it needs to be for this kind of disinfecting. That's more like a 1 in 20 solution (roughly, with lots of rounding error). A 1 in 10 solution would be more along the lines of a cup and a half of bleach in a gallon of water. Unless I did the math wrong.

                                  That said, I don't have anything against either wood or the Sani-Tuff stuff, and if I were solvent (which I'm not) and could find one for under $30 (which I can't), I'd be willing to give the Sani-Tuff a try. In the meantime, I'm perfectly happy with my PE board.

                                  The upshot is that whether your board is PE, wood, rubber, or bamboo, if you're properly cleaning after every use and disinfecting on a regular basis, there's nothing to fear. So use the substance that puts a smile on your face!

                                  1. re: ZenSojourner

                                    "There is little difference between wood and PE boards when it comes to sanitation... And yes, I've read studies that looked at old PE boards as well as new.


                                    Did you read the article you put up?

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      Yes, I read the report. It concluded that both are safe WITH PROPER CLEANING AND SANITIZATION. So do many other studies.

                                      Perhaps you should stop grinding this particular axe and go sharpen some of your knives?


                                      1. re: ZenSojourner

                                        Well, the reason I asked is that I cannot believe anyone who actually read that article would have said old poly boards are similar to wood boards. So really, I don't know if you put that article up because it looks nice or you don't fully undersand Peter's work aftter reading it.

                                        This study, in fact, shows old polyurethane boards to be worse than old wood boards. The first cutting board is a 8 months old polyurethane board. In Table 1a (on page 4), it clearly shows this board to be very problematic. Do you see "TNTC"? It stands for "Too Numerous (E. Coli) to Count." None of the wood boards get "TNTC" statements.

                                        I am a little bit familiar with Peter's works, and I had read this particular article before. He has a few others. This is not about wood vs polyurethane. It is about washing vs not washing. He is really arguing that washing and cleaning a cutting a board is better, not poly boards are similar to wood boards. You are misrepresenting him.

                                        If you are really into Peter's works on Wood vs Polyethylene cutting boards. You should read this:

                                        "Salt and vinegar worked well for our ancestors and could be used to complement the cleaning process of wooden cutting boards to make them far safer than polymer cutting boards.."

                                        by O. Peter Snyder, Jr., Ph.D.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics


                                          The important part of the article is the fact that both wooden boards AND PE boards were found to be suitably sanitized after proper cleaning.

                                          I'm not going to argue with you about the likelihood of ever seeing the same kind of situation in real life, e.g. someone comes in and doses your boards with an E. coli solution on purpose.

                                          They may have been too numerous to count before cleaning and sanitization. They were about the same afterwards.

                                          What this means from a practical standpoint is that both wood and PE boards are safe to use IF YOU CLEAN and sanitize between uses. That means NOT letting them sit around and grow entire microscopic civilizations.

                                          I'm not "into" ANY particular person's "work" in this area, just the conclusions. And the vinegar solution works just as well disinfecting PE boards as it does for wood boards. Use what makes you happy, because both are safe - assuming you're cleaning them properly. If you're not, then NEITHER substance is safe.

                                          1. re: ZenSojourner

                                            I did not disagree that washing a cutting board is a good idea. In fact, I pointed out that Peter's article is about washing vs not washing, not wood vs poly. He clearly showed it is a good idea to wash a cutting board.

                                            However, if you go back up to your previous post, you did not really use Peter's conclusions, you extrapolated his conclusions and stated that there is little difference between wood and PE boards and cited Peter's works as proofs. That is misrepresentation of his conclusions. Peter actually have argued that there is a difference. The vinegar part is not about what I said. It is what Peter said. Salt and vinegar can make a wood board FAR SAFER than polymer boards, he said.

                                            This is why I specifically quote your statement and asked you if you have actually read the article, because your quote does not match his works.


                                            "They may have been too numerous to count before cleaning and sanitization. They were about the same afterwards."

                                            This is not the case. Please read that article again. The "TNTC" is after the last sanitization step. This is why I wondered if you read the article.

                                          2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                            It shows that soap and water give 5 log10 reduction on any surface. That's the standard for cooking. There's no standard for microbiological contamination on food preparation surfaces, but it's not unreasonable to assume that reduction levels that are suitable to stick in your mouth are suitable to prepare food on.

                                            Do you have a point?

                                            1. re: dscheidt

                                              I am aware and I wrote in my previous post that the article is about washing is beneficial. I wrote: "He is really arguing that washing and cleaning a cutting a board is better"

                                      2. re: ZenSojourner

                                        While I frequently skip the really long posts on Chowhound, I read all of yours (the right thing to do since I asked).

                                        I always wash and dry the cutting boards. After meat, especially poultry, I sanitize the board, usually with hydrogen peroxide that we keep in a spray bottle under the sink. I read somewhere that it will sanitize almost as well as bleach and that's good enough for me.

                                        As for the sponges, I can't stand the things. We use a 3M Schotchbrite pad that I cut in half and throw out after a couple of weeks. It gets rinsed in hot soapy water after it's used almost every time and the dish cloth gets tossed into the laundry other day. We bought a big package of white hand towels at Sam's Club not too long ago and have gotten into the habit of using that to wipe down the counter and stove and it goes to the wash daily.

                                        A while back I saw a TV commercial that showed a kitchen sponge morph into a p;iece of raw chicken and back into a sponge as teh woman was wiping down her kitchen surfaces. It would have been a better commercial if I remembered what the product was.

                                        1. re: John E.

                                          I use a kitchen sponge regularly. It goes in the top shelf of the dishwasher daily. It comes out sterile and good to go.

                                          1. re: John E.

                                            Wow, thanks, LOL! I'm pretty much a shut in these days so some of my posts get pretty long-winded! I appreciate your patience!

                                            I'm big on dishrags and towels too. I like being able to put them in the washing machine and have them come out disinfected. The only thing is, in my son's apartment, he has a front loading washing machine, which is great on many levels (gentler for your clothes, creates less lint, uses less soap and water, less energy, etc) but I was shocked and apalled to find out I can't use bleach in it!

                                            However will I sanitize my kitchen things now????

                                            /me saaaad, LOL!

                                            I think I vaguely remember that commercial. I can't remember what it was for either.

                                            I soak my scrubbies in a bleach solution every once in awhile. I never thought of cutting them in half, that would actually probably be a good idea - easier to soak them and I'd get 2x the use out of them. You really only scrub with half or less of the thing anyway.

                                          2. re: ZenSojourner

                                            Zen, good point re: dish cloths/sponges - thanks. Thoughts on plastic dish scrubs (like the typical OXO)?

                                            1. re: iyc_nyc

                                              You mean the round balls of woven plastic? Kind of like plastic SOS pads?

                                              I don't use 'em. Never have. In the old days (before nonstick), copper scrub pads and steel wool filled the bill.

                                              In the post-nonstick days (after the 70s, I KNOW, I KNOW, technically nonstick's been around since before WWII), those little green scrubby pad things came along and that's what I used.

                                              I'm not sure how I'd try to sanitize one of those. I guess you'd have to weight it down and submerge it in your disinfectant solution.

                                              1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                No, the dish scrub with handle, like this:

                                                Realizing this is now getting way off topic so won't post to this after your reply. Have a feeling folks might be eager to put this thread to rest. :-)

                                                1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                  I tried one of those plastic things once. Food got trapped in them. Pretty gross.

                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                    yuk. i'm now seeing my beloved oxo scrubber in a new (not so flattering) light. yuk again.

                                                    1. re: iyc_nyc

                                                      Scrubber/ brush is not as bad as you think. Yes, it is easy to get bigger food trapped in there, but it is also easier to get them out. This is not the case for a sponge. Ultimately, it is not big food particles which should worry you. It is the smaller stuffs.

                                                      Think of it this way. If you dip a brush and a sponge in a pool of vinegar, which one is easier to rinse the vinegar taste out? Brush, I say. Now, if you dip a brush and a sponge in a pool of E. Coli filled chicken juice, which one is easier to rinse then?

                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                        ewe, all right, i'm going to stop asking qs i don't really want to know the answer to!

                                                        1. re: iyc_nyc

                                                          LOL! No you're not! Admit it! There's some part of you that still gets off on fart jokes that will force you to ask this kind of question again someday. Somday SOOOON!


                                                      2. re: iyc_nyc

                                                        I think (correct me if I'm wrong) John was referring to the plastic version of an SOS pad.

                                                        The scrubber you showed me though should be fairly easy to keep clean. I must admit though that I have not really put any thought into sanitizing that kind of brush! I only use that sort of brush for scrubbing the sink though, so getting stuff stuck in it isn't generally much of a problem.

                                                        I do use a bottle brush though pretty frequently, and I'm going to have to rethink the fact that I've never thought to sanitize it, either! It'd be simple - just a little solution in a narrow class, stick the brush in for 10 minutes, then let it dry.

                                                        1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                          Now, I never thought of the bottle brush thing either and hate to add that to my list of to-dos. Okay, now I'm tking -- I haven't thought to do any of these things in the many years I've been alive and cooking -- and I'm still alive and cooking. So maybe I just go on business as usual and stop worrying about all this! Which I think I will. :-)

                                                          On an unrelated note - and maybe getting into forbidden 'meta' territory -- are you sure Zen of 11:49 PM is the same Zen of 11:47 PM, or is someone masquerading as you? I swear, you come off as two very different people! Not necessarily good vs bad, just very different. All the more striking bc the posts are right next to each other w/i minutes.

                                                          1. re: iyc_nyc

                                                            I am a complex woman, a woman of mystery and intrigue, dahling.

                                                          2. re: ZenSojourner

                                                            I was actually referring to a plastic version of one of those copper or steel woven pads without the soap. I think the theory is a pad that cleans like steel wool that can be used on nonstick cookware. I looked for an image but didn't find one. I've never found anything I like better than the 3M Scotchbrite. I've even tried the generic versions of the Scotchbrite, but they don't work as well.

                                    2. re: zooxanthellae

                                      I agree with mikie -- unless you're making a huge amount of soup, go with a 4-quart-ish size. An 8-quart pot is pretty big -- that's 2 gallons of soup -- so unless you're planning on cooking for a crowd or have storage for your leftovers, I don't think it's necessary.

                                      For some cooking applications, having too much room in the pot could be a problem, but the bigger issue for you would probably be space and a pot that is an unwieldy size. You can still shake a 4-quart pot around on the stovetop to saute -- with an 8-quart, you're mostly going to be stirring, I'd think.

                                      Mikie's recommended pot also gets you a safe rating up to 550F, whereas the handles on your pot are only rated to 350F -- probably not much of an issue, but if at some point you wanted to throw the pot in a hot oven for some reason, it's nice to have the option. (This, by the way, is also the disadvantage to my earlier advice about non-stick -- many of those pots can't handle high heat well.)

                                      As for your cutting board, I find bamboo to be a questionable, as others have said. It's durable and eco-friendly, but it's a bit hard for the edges of your knives.

                                      Oiling the board is very easy, though -- make sure the board is completely dry. Just put a little on and rub it in with a paper towel or clean rag. Keep adding it until the board doesn't absorb more, and wipe off excess. Do this periodically in the first few weeks. At first, it might absorb quite a bit of oil, but that will decrease after the first few times. After that, you only need to oil periodically, maybe once a month or so.

                                      1. Nonstick is handy for more than the rare omelet. As a dorm-living college student, he's going to want cleanup to be quick. Nonstick facilitates quick and easy cleanup. Dorm student food typically includes a lot of things that are quick and easy like grilled cheese, eggs, burgers. Nonstick makes all of those easier to cook (and clean up after). It's also good for tossing the odd pork chop in there, or a quick pan-fried steak, if one is getting fancy. My son liked to grill hot dogs in his. Microwaving them is fine but he liked them grilled on occasion. And we keep coming back to the issue of ease of cleanup. Who wants to stand over the sink in the communal kitchen scrubbing? Even if you don't watch the soup closely enough and it scorches, it's easier to clean that out of nonstick. Assuming you didn't actually set the pan on fire, at least, LOL!

                                        The sauce pans? Nonstick not such a big deal. But for a frying pan, nonstick really makes a difference, especially in that environment.

                                        1. re: ZenSojourner

                                          Gee, thanks for explaining all of this to me. I had no idea non-stick is so versatile. LOL! Honey Bunch, you're preaching to the choir. But for overall cook-anything general cooking, I would HIGHLY advise AGAINST non-stick! And you can use cheap metal utensils in a NON-nonstick! '-)

                                          If you'll read the OP, stews and soups are specifically mentioned with not one word about "typical dorm fare" of grilled cheese, eggs, burgers or hot dogs. In my post in response to a knife and a pot and good prices, I aimed at the parameters set out in the OP.

                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                            I'm the opposite. I would highly advise nonstick for general cooking purposes. That's what I use myself. Don't think he could afford a set of Scanpans though so I'm certainly not suggesting that.

                                            It's up to the OP to decide what he needs/wants. If it were my son - and it was not so long ago - I'd have the same advice, even if he didn't think at first that he might ever want something besides an 8 qt stock pot.

                                        2. re: zooxanthellae

                                          Having seen my son's roommate "care & maintenance" conditions, I'd definitely recommend tri-ply ss/al over PTFE ("Teflon") non-stick. It's simply not going to hold up. You can possibly get away with more durable ceramic-coat non-stick, but it may be out of your spending budget. (As a side note, most folks tend to overheat PTFE-coated pans during cooking, allowing the polymer to break down & release compounds into your items. I experienced this release of PTFE compounds first-hand when I worked at a manufacturing facility where we blended, molded & fired our own PTFE powders.)

                                          For cutting board, I'd wander over to Marshall's or TJMaxx & pick up a poly or regular (side grain?) wood board for $3 to $7. Bamboo's nice from an environmental viewpoint, but I've never used one & the feedback on knife-dulling is too overwhelming for me to want to try one.

                                          1. re: Eiron


                                            I think I have heard side grain and edge grain. They are excellent choice which is what I used when I was younger and what I suggested to the original poster. PTFE is very inert, but just like you said, it breaks down at high heat and most people can easily accidentially heat up around and above that temperature.

                                            Bamboo can and cannot be environmental. It is more environmental because it grows very fast unlike wood. It is less environment from two possible cases. First, bamboo cutting boards may not last as long, so you may end up buy more. Second, there is a dark side to bamboo growth as WSJ have suggested:


                                            1. re: Eiron

                                              Folks, we've removed a number of posts that were more "discussing the discussion" than actually discussing the issue at hand. That kind of meta-argument really doesn't ever go anywhere, and would ask that people just let it go.

                                              1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                OK, good point. I'll start a thread about the issue of PTFE safety and toxicity. Let's see how long it stays up.

                                          2. The Forschner is a good knife but I'd also get about a 5 inch boning knife that can double as a paring knife. As for the kettle, if you life where there in an Ikea store, I'd buy a 5 quart 365+ model for $15. It's stainless steel with a disc bottom so it's both cheap and it won't scorch.

                                            If you don't have an Ikea nearby, just get a stainless 5 quart kettle that has a thick bottom, not a real thin bottomed pot that is only suitable for boiling potatoes or pasta. I also wouldn't pay too much for it because you really don't need to at this point. If I were you I'd also get a non-stick frying pan. If there's a Goodwill or thrift store nearby, you can often find pots and pans that are in good shape for a good price. It's been my experience that they rarely have knives that are worth paying for.