Butcher Block

31
4
Joined Jul 19, 2018
I'm trying to set up my kitchen to be conducive to cooking and one of the things I'm looking for is a nice butcher block. I was wondering if there is a company that makes nice butcher block or if there is a nice thickness. Any help or advice would be more than welcome.
 
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2,403
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Joined Oct 9, 2008
So, just delete "Okinawa for"?

Boos is well known, good quality, and rather expensive.

Boardsmith is also excellent, and a bit cheaper. On the other hand, they can be a little disorganized, and so it can take a little while to get your board.

Get end-grain if you can.
 
109
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Joined Apr 11, 2018
Are you looking for something you can actually whack away on with a heavy cleaver or are you just going to use this like a normal cutting board?
 
31
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Joined Jul 19, 2018
I'm going to use this as a normal cutting board. I was looking at a store and asked the owner what he recommended and he showed me the epicurean brand of cutting board. It has no impact on the blade and is made out of recycled paper and resin. I was starting to consider that but I don't know if anybody else had used them.
 
510
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Joined May 29, 2013
You want something that has as little resin as possible. That pretty much eliminates the Epicurean, which has an extremely high level of resin, is therefore extremely hard and will blunt knife edges much more rapidly than boards made from blocks of wood. The main reason the Epicurean board is offered is that it's easy to ship them to stores.

An end grain board is usually considered the top standard. At least for the United States and Canada, northern (hard) maple is a fairly common and recommended wood, but walnut, cherry and other hardwoods can also be used. The rule of thumb given by Daniel Smith (the former proprietor of the BoardSMITH) was that, if the tree produced edible fruit or some other food, then the wood was probably safe for use in a board. I mention maple first, because it's usually much less expensive, while providing a good cutting surface. The boards are made up by gluing selected pieces together to first make a row, then gluing rows together to make the full block.

The general size for a board used for a work station should not be less than 12 inches by 18 inches (30cm x 45cm).

For regular cutting use on an end grain board, you should look for a board which is at least 2 inches (5cm) thick. That's to minimize warping of the board. If you intend to whack away with a cleaver, then the board should be at least 3-1/2 inches (9cm) thick.

Obviously, end grain hardwood cutting boards are very heavy and availability is dependent upon what country you are in. The shipping costs are simply too high for any international market.

The big enemy for end grain boards is water moisture. Before using a new board for the first time, saturate both sides of the board with multiple applications of food grade mineral oil, until the board simply refuses to absorb any more oil. Each application should be with the oil poured out and spread around the board until the entire surface is covered. Once there's a surface sheen on the board, then leave it and allow the oil to soak in (don't wipe any off). Then turn the board over and do the same on the other side. Day One, you should be able to apply the oil to each side twice. Day two, you should be able to apply the oil once. Then wait two days and apply the oil again. Then, Day 5, apply the oil again. By that point, the board should be getting fully saturated (of course, if it's a 4 inch or thicker chopping block, you will need more sessions). The intent here is for the wood capillaries to be flooded with oil, and to exclude water from seeping in to warp the board.

You don't have to spend much money on food grade mineral oil - I get my oil from the pharmacy area of a major chain grocery supermarket that sells one pint for $4.

NEVER soak the board in standing water. NEVER put it into a dishwasher. Use a cheap bench scraper to scrape off food residues before applying any cleaners, and keep (and apply) mineral oil to re-touch the board when needed.

Hope that helps.

Galley Swiller
 
31
4
Joined Jul 19, 2018
You want something that has as little resin as possible. That pretty much eliminates the Epicurean, which has an extremely high level of resin, is therefore extremely hard and will blunt knife edges much more rapidly than boards made from blocks of wood. The main reason the Epicurean board is offered is that it's easy to ship them to stores.

An end grain board is usually considered the top standard. At least for the United States and Canada, northern (hard) maple is a fairly common and recommended wood, but walnut, cherry and other hardwoods can also be used. The rule of thumb given by Daniel Smith (the former proprietor of the BoardSMITH) was that, if the tree produced edible fruit or some other food, then the wood was probably safe for use in a board. I mention maple first, because it's usually much less expensive, while providing a good cutting surface. The boards are made up by gluing selected pieces together to first make a row, then gluing rows together to make the full block.

The general size for a board used for a work station should not be less than 12 inches by 18 inches (30cm x 45cm).

For regular cutting use on an end grain board, you should look for a board which is at least 2 inches (5cm) thick. That's to minimize warping of the board. If you intend to whack away with a cleaver, then the board should be at least 3-1/2 inches (9cm) thick.

Obviously, end grain hardwood cutting boards are very heavy and availability is dependent upon what country you are in. The shipping costs are simply too high for any international market.

The big enemy for end grain boards is water moisture. Before using a new board for the first time, saturate both sides of the board with multiple applications of food grade mineral oil, until the board simply refuses to absorb any more oil. Each application should be with the oil poured out and spread around the board until the entire surface is covered. Once there's a surface sheen on the board, then leave it and allow the oil to soak in (don't wipe any off). Then turn the board over and do the same on the other side. Day One, you should be able to apply the oil to each side twice. Day two, you should be able to apply the oil once. Then wait two days and apply the oil again. Then, Day 5, apply the oil again. By that point, the board should be getting fully saturated (of course, if it's a 4 inch or thicker chopping block, you will need more sessions). The intent here is for the wood capillaries to be flooded with oil, and to exclude water from seeping in to warp the board.

You don't have to spend much money on food grade mineral oil - I get my oil from the pharmacy area of a major chain grocery supermarket that sells one pint for $4.

NEVER soak the board in standing water. NEVER put it into a dishwasher. Use a cheap bench scraper to scrape off food residues before applying any cleaners, and keep (and apply) mineral oil to re-touch the board when needed.

Hope that helps.

Galley Swiller

Thank you for the guidance. It has helped a lot. One more question do you prefer walnut or maple?
 
510
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Joined May 29, 2013
I only have maple, so that's what I can recommend. Walnut is out of my budget range, especially when I can use a well-crafted end-grain maple board.

I have ordered and bought from Michigan Maple Block and the BoardSMITH. I have also bought a close-out end grain maple board from an off-price chain store.
 
3,991
828
Joined Dec 18, 2010
What I mean: wood is good, but poly cutting boards are worth considering too. Poly boards are affordable, often designed so you can isolate a meat and veg side, and clean-up/sanitize easily.
 
31
4
Joined Jul 19, 2018
What I mean: wood is good, but poly cutting boards are worth considering too. Poly boards are affordable, often designed so you can isolate a meat and veg side, and clean-up/sanitize easily.
Is there a particular brand of poly boards that you recommend
 
3,991
828
Joined Dec 18, 2010
Is there a particular brand of poly boards that you recommend
Not really. I don’t even recall what brand I have but coincidentally it is what ATK uses. It’s more about size, as GS mentioned, and flatness. Check out a Target or Bed Bath and Beyond.

http://www.chefcentral.com/oxo-poly-cutting-board-14-5-x-21-black.html

For wood I really like the JK Adams reversable. But last time I looked at their site it may have been discontinued. I’m sure they have something like that, though.
 
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109
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Joined Apr 11, 2018
If you've got some time to kill, go to youtube and check out MTM Wood. He's a one-man woodshop in Russia that specializes in creative end-grain cutting board designs, posts a lot of videos showing how he makes them. It can be fascinating if you're into that sort of thing.

I was enough that I ended up buying one, been using it near daily for over two and a half years and it's performed flawlessly, still almost like new. I maintain it properly, though.
 
31
4
Joined Jul 19, 2018
If you've got some time to kill, go to youtube and check out MTM Wood. He's a one-man woodshop in Russia that specializes in creative end-grain cutting board designs, posts a lot of videos showing how he makes them. It can be fascinating if you're into that sort of thing.

I was enough that I ended up buying one, been using it near daily for over two and a half years and it's performed flawlessly, still almost like new. I maintain it properly, though.
Thank you I will
 
510
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Joined May 29, 2013
Before buying ANY wood board, check the shipping cost CAREFULLY!! Shipping across an ocean (unless done in bulk) is hugely expensive.

I prefer end grain hardwood over any poly board. When a knife edge comes down on end grain wood, it cuts between the capillaries, which then simply give way a microscopic distance until the edge is withdrawn, after which the capillaries come back together. In essence, the wood is "self-healing". That's not true of edge grain wood or poly, where any cuts are permanent and can provide a haven for any food residues, including oils and fats, which can (and will), if not sanitized, result in pathogen growth.

The key is sanitation. Removal of excess residues, including oils and fats, and then very hot soapy water washing (but not soaking), then chemical sanitation, such as a bleach solution.

GS
 
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109
75
Joined Apr 11, 2018
Before buying ANY wood board, check the shipping cost CAREFULLY!! Shipping across an ocean (unless done in bulk) is hugely expensive.

Good advice, and one that I practiced. In fact, that's what sealed the deal on the one I got from the Russia guy. Being a fancy board the pricing was justifiably premium but not out of my range. But I figured the international shipping of such a large, heavy piece would be prohibitively expensive and I wasn't seriously considering getting one. Still, on a whim I decided to check the shipping cost and was surprised to find it quite reasonable. Next thing I knew, I had completed the transaction...

But that doesn't mean it's always the case, always worth checking...

Though having a board that can be flipped over and the other side used is certainly a functional advantage, mine has little silicone feet screwed into the base and some handle cutouts on the side. Technically I could flip it but it's designed to be used on a single side.

I bring this up because it results in another, less practical aspect I like about my end-grain board. Raised a little off the counter like that, it has excellent acoustics. Every time the blade hits the board it rings like a musical instrument, a one-note xylophone. Using a rocking cut where the blade never leaves the surface doesn't make any significant sound but otherwise even the most gentle cut, even from 1/2" above the board, produces a very satisfying "tock". I find it aesthetically quite pleasing while I'm cooking.
 

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