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Cutting board recommendation

I know there are lots of topics on getting the right wood cutting board but I wanted to solicit very specific opinions. I am thinking of getting a board custom made by someone on Etsy. I'm not sure if hard maple or black walnut is the right wood to get though. While I like how extremely pretty the walnut ones are, I've read that they may be too porous and present a health hazard. Any input would be much appreciated.

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  1. konosur - get a board made of wood...any wood (maple is quite hard=good)....it's actually better in terms of "bugs" than any plastic (i.e. no health issues if you treat it "right"). I wash mine with liquid soap to remove any grease (if I am cutting anything greasy like raw chicken or meat) and then slowly pour ~1/2 gallon of boiling watter (from a kettle) over the entire surface. By the time you are done with that kind of tratement (board will get quite hot) any "bugs" that might have been on the surface (or in the cuts/nicks of the wood) are DEAD!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Pollo

      I wouldn't follow Pollo's advise on cleaning the board, the boiling water will most probably ruin a wood chopping board. See the boardsmith below for the a professional opinion.

    2. My guess is that black walnut is just fine. It is softer than maple, but it is fine. I don't know why you think a slightly softer wood presents health hazard. Plenty people in the world use soft wood cutting boards and they are not dying left and right. BoardSmith Dave (a well respected cutting board maker) makes his boards from maple, mahogany, black walnut and black cherry. In the big picture, black walnut is a hard wood. It is just not as hard as maple, that's all.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        Yes, I agree. I had posted to this thread earlier but it seems to have been removed. I was suggesting the OP contact Dave the BoardSmith for information. Figured the OP could use at least another quote before making a decision. Whether the OP used Dave or not, Dave can provide sound advice. Maybe they thought I was just soliciting and deleted my post, who knows?

      2. Well I've been reading on some woodworking/knife sites about how black walnut is "porous" i.e. fine but open pores. I wonder if mineral oil rubbing on a frequent basis helps to cure the wood. Maybe I'm misled by some really anal y woodsmiths but either way, I will ask The Boardsmith. Thanks for the advice.

        1. The general rule of thumb for choosing a specific wood for a cutting board is any wood with a running sap, maple - maple syrup, or an edible nut. (The only exception I can come up with is oak, far to porous.) The list includes hard maple, cherry, some species of mahogany, walnut, ash, pecan, hickory and others. Woods to avoid are some of the exotics which may contain toxins, some cedars like red cedar which the insects stay away from, spalted wood or softer woods like pine which may impart tastes into the food.

          Black walnut is okay, just slightly more porous than maple and a little softer. The biggest drawback is its cost. I make a lot of walnut boards and they seem to perform well with little to no trouble reported by end users.

          The health issue is a good question. Wood boards wick the bacteria into the interior where they die from a lack of moisture. With plastic boards or non-porous boards, the bacteria stay on the surface and require more cleaning. Not to open a can of worms, but wood does appear to be more sanitary and is easier on good edges.

          Cleaning is easy, scrub with warm water and a good quality dishwashing detergent then rinse thoroughly and dry as completely as possible. Stand up on an edge or side to air dry. (Boiling water can damage the cutting surface causing it to bow up and may dissolve the glues used making the glue joints separate.)

          To sanitize use a 1:1 mixture of water and vinegar or 1 tablespoon of Clorox in a quart of water. The vinegar mixture is food safe and does not need to be rinsed. The Clorox mixture does need rinsing.

          Hope this helps.

          3 Replies
          1. re: BoardSMITH

            "Wood boards wick the bacteria into the interior where they die from a lack of moisture. With plastic boards or non-porous boards, the bacteria stay on the surface and require more cleaning."

            Exactly agree. There are several research articles which confrim this. The current notion, in fact, is that a wood board is more sanitary than a plastic barod when they are not brand new and when they are not cleaned throughly.

            1. re: BoardSMITH

              Does the hardness of a particular wood affect durability? For example, would a board made from cherry wood, which is softer than maple, wear out faster?

              1. re: cheesemaestro

                It isn't the hardness of the wood so much as the construction. End grain boards are far more durable and longer lasting than face or edge grain boards. However, there are some manufacturers who treat their board with a resin hardener which is tough on the edges and some glues are also as tough.

            2. I have two large wooden cutting boards (one for meat/ veg and one for fruit/bread), and I also have a few of the pressed cardboard cutting boards from Epicurean. After almost a year of use, I can say that they've been strong, light, and easy to clean. You can put them in the dishwasher (I haven't) and they also have a printed surface on one side so you can distinguish between your different boards. I take cooking gear along when I travel, so the lightness and compactness is a good thing.

              I don't know how long they'll end up lasting, but so far, so good.