Your kitchen knives may look the part, clean, shiny and sharp, but with the best will in the world, daily wear and tear will cause the edges and the tips to become dull and blunt.
This can be alleviated with the right chopping board. There’s no way around it, a good chopping board is a vital piece of kit.
Chopping on kitchen surfaces is a no-no. If they are made of wood, then scratching is inevitable. Even surfaces such as granite and marble aren’t immune to damage both to the surface and the blades.
There is no one-size-fits-all to the conundrum. But the choice is spectacular, from large wooden blocks to a selection of glass or plastic boards.
Choice can also depend on everything from aesthetics of the kitchen – Maple boards are almost the Apple computer of beautiful looking chopping boards – to the sort of blades you have. Some also come with their own care kit to help extend the lives of the boards. The knife blades are presumably either made from Stainless or Carbon steel. The choice of board will have a different effect on both knife maintenance and board life.
Soft wood boards
The stainless steel knife will fare well enough on one of these, as will the board. Remember, for most of the time you will be cutting and peeling on it, not chopping, so the board life will last a fair time too. A soft board will not cause too much damage to a Carbon knife, although it’s likely to cut short the board’s useful life.
Probably the most common soft wood chopping board you’ll see is pine (like the Nature in Hand Pine Wood Wooden Cutting and Serving Board shown above), though larch and cedar are also quite popular.
Hard wood boards
A block of hard wood will be good for both stainless steel and carbon steel knives, although maintenance will be a bigger issue than with the soft wood. The board itself should also receive a longer lifespan.
There’s a much wider variety of woods to choose from here, including beech, birch, cherry, maple, oak and walnut (like the Large Walnut Wood Cutting Board by Virginia Boys Kitchens shown above) among the more popular options. Bamboo is also an increasingly common choice.
Both types of knife are reasonably happy on plastic boards, although Stainless may need for maintenance than Carbon. However, chances are that you may go through a plastic board slightly quicker if you have a selection of Carbon-based blades.
The IKEA LEGITIM Cutting & Chopping Board shown above is a classic example of a good value, workhorse plastic chopping board.
Bakelite-type boards are increasingly found in professional kitchens. They’re durable alright, but increased knife maintenance is important.
Caring for your board
As with knives, the dishwasher is NOT your friend if your board is made of wood. Exposure to heat and water will cause the board to warp and crack. Add in a bit of elbow grease and wash it like a delicate dish in the sink. One part vinegar to four parts water will also help in the fight against germs if you have been chopping meat. There are various oils on the market too for your wooden board, but please read the instructions carefully.
Plastic boards are a different issue. In fact, prolonged exposure to dishwasher heat will help to take out the bacteria that can hide in the cuts and cracks. It’s the same with glass boards, but remember what they will do to your knives.