Cutting boards

Discussion in 'Cooking Equipment Reviews' started by jflores, Nov 21, 2008.

  1. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Phil (phatch) is right about the "antibacterial properties" of wood boards being a non issue. All boards require proper cleaning and sanitizing -- wood included. The dishwasher is not necessary and doesn't get a board cleaner or safer than ordinary cleaning and sanitizing.

    One of the problems with nylon boards is that they scar deeply easily. The scars are excellent breeding ground for bacteria. If the boards are cleaned quickly, NP. But if not.

    A good cook keeps her (or his) board clean always. This means regular and repeated wiping during prep. That, in turn, means a well organized board. Food, when prepped, is removed from the board to an appropriate mise en place so the board may be wiped (and if necessary washed and/or sanitized). There are benefits to holding your mise off the board -- besides a clean board. You'll be a much better cook if you work from a mise off your board, rather than working off your board. Your knife work will improve radically because you're board isn't crowded. Your knife work will be safer.

    There's a sort of rough hierarchy as to which boards are best for your knives.

    1. End grain hardwood; Special woods (like hinoka); and Sani-Tuff
    2. Edge grain hardwood (don't heal as well as hardwood)
    3. Softwood, typical of Chinese boards (don't heal, and sometimes grab the knife)
    4. Bamboo (too hard)
    5. Nylon (multiple problems)
    6. Wood composition (too hard)

    Any surface such as metal, stone, corian, fiberglass, glass, ceramics, etc., is unacceptably hard and will ruin your knives.

    BDL
     
  2. foodpump

    foodpump

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    As BDL said, the big issue is scarring. True, nylon is the worst for this but wood comes in second. Sani-tuff tends to chip and flake

    Scarring can be remedied with either one of the following items:
    -Thickness planer
    -Cabinet scraper (with a wicked hook rolled on it)
    -Fore or jointer plane
    These tools work fine on either nylon or wood, never tried it on sani-tuff.

    If you work professionaly, never EVER, discuss the anti-bacterial properties of wood vs nylon with your local health inspector personally. Call or fax for this information anonomously, but never face-to-face. DAMHIKT....

    I've been woodworking as a hobby for only 6 years now, and cooking for close to 25 years professionally. For the life of me, I still can't bear to use knives on beautiful natural surfaces, as they will scar sooner or later. On the other hand, I've got no problems tossing out scarred nylon boards into the garbage that are too thin to go one more time through the thickness planer....
     
  3. mikelm

    mikelm

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    Earnason-
    You can assemble your boards with Titebond III glue- it's FDA-approved for foodservice and also waterproof, according to the manufacturer.

    Don't use Gorilla Glue, since a) it expands when curing and you will need clamps out the wazoo for an end-grain board, and b) the label doesn't mention FDA approval, so you will probably die after eating a pickle sliced on such a board. :suprise:

    Perhaps.

    Mike
     
  4. mikelm

    mikelm

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    Google around the Univ. of Wisconsin Food Science Department for research papers on the attributes of end-grain cutting boards and their sanitary advantages.

    You can use Titebond III glue which is waterproof and FDA-approved for foodservice use, when you assemble your boards. Have fun. But you still can't put them in the dishwasher. :rolleyes:

    Mike
     
  5. sabbah

    sabbah

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    I don't understand how a dishwasher is even easier.
     
  6. foodpump

    foodpump

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    How?

    1) Hose off chicken juice, pork juice, garlic and/or herb bits, etc.

    2) Insert board in d/w rack and press "start". A commercial unit takes 120 seconds and is subject to  high heat sanitizing.

    3) Remove clean, sanitized board from d/w and place on a rack to air dry.
     
  7. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Plastic boards, even poly and nylon, are much harder on knives than good, wood boards.   They are not more sanitary than wood boards as long as the person using the wood board has the necessary "food handling" skills and good enough work habits to consistently apply them.  Neither are they less sanitary.  Clean and sanitary is clean and sanitary. 

    Preserving my edges is a greater priority to me than the simplicity of beng able to throw a board in the d/w, and worth the extra effort it takes to wipe down, spritz with commercial or 10% bleach sanitizer and wipe down again.  No reason you should share the priority. 

    Foodpump's are every bit as good, as right, and as worthy of respect.  His tools and methods are things even an employee or health department inspector can easily understand. 

    But jeeze-louise! The whole separate board for chicken and meat / cross-contamination thing is superstition -- as long as your work habits are good enough to clean the mother%[email protected]#er (aka "darn board") after cutting raw proteins on it.  If you don't have good workhabits, get LOTS of boards, swap them out frequently, throw them away when they develop deep scratches which breed bacterial colonies, and clean them religiously. 

    But those would be good work habits, wouldn't they?  Catch 22.  

    If poultry really worries you that much, in addition to buying color coded boards and all, consider the source.  Try decent birds, instead of those who live out their life in its own filth on a factory farm in Arkansas or Mississippi, and are then slaughtered on an unbelievably septic assembly line. 

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2010
  8. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Last time we had this conversation I actually timed board cleaning.

    Forget the wiping and sanitizing part, that's hardly measurable. To actually wash and wipe dry my wooden board: 35 seconds. Hit with a sanitizing spray and wipe again, what? another six seconds, maybe.

    Anyone who thinks using a dish washer is actually easier is just kidding themselves. Given all the other problems that synthetic boards bring to the table, the only reason to use them is because the health department insists on it. But that hardly applies to the home cook.

    BTW, as much as I favor wood, if you look at those actual studies, what you find is that they're silly at best. What they are comparing is the bacterial growth in uncleaned boards. That is, you cut up, say, a chicken, on a synthetic board and on a wooden one, and then measure the rate of bacterial growth. No surprise that the wooden board scores best. But hardly a meaningful test.

    As BDL notes, good sanitation is good sanitation. So other factors should determine your choice of material.
     
  9. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Yeah...that whole coloured, colour coded cutting board schpeil schtuff....

    Now, in some places where they hire min. wage staff and get min. wage results, it's a lot easier to explain to the eejit to cut cooked chicken on the yellow one and raw chicken on the pink one.  No such thing as common sense.

    Where I absolutelty  insist on cutting board "apartheid" is in the pastry side,  No fun chopping chocolate or pineapple on a board flavoured with garlic or rosemary. 

    Usually If I'm breaking down beef or pork, whole salmon, or a case of chickens, I do it in quantitites that are economical, so I grab a large cutting board--say 18" x 26" and cut away, this board is usually only reserved for raw meats--very rarely will someone take it on the line .  The regular smaller cutting boards are usually for veg prep, sandwiches, or cooked meats anyway.

    Main thing with all cutting boards is the surface:  Deep or plentifull scratches and scars will harbour bacteria and just plain crud.  Keep it clean.
     
  10. sabbah

    sabbah

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    She was talking about her home kitchen. 
     
  11. the boardsmith

    the boardsmith

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    I can add little to the discussion.  Most of the pertinent information has been added and discussed. 

    What is important is hygiene, washing and caring for the wood board, or any board, as it should be.  Simple washing with dishwashing detergent and warm water after cutting raw meats will do wonders.  A spray of Clorox and water or vinegar and water will go a long way to avoid problems.  JUST DO SOMETHING!   I have customers who do nothing and I wonder why I don't see their names in an obituary or at least the hospital records.

    Wood can't go in the DW. The high heat will warp the wood and melt even waterproof glue.  (The glues can stand up to water but not persistent heat.)

    Wood is not, repeat, is not anti-bacterial.  It doesn't kill the bugs, just sucks them into the wood fibers where they die from a lack of moisture.  Wood is easier on the edges than glass, stone, nylon, composite or other harder types of materials. 

    Stains can be removed with peroxide.  Odors like onion and garlic can be removed with baking soda

    Just wash the darn thing in detergent and warm water, dry thoroughly and oil as needed and it will last for years.
     
  12. cairoboy

    cairoboy

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    I don't want the maintenance of a regular duty wood board. I happen to agree that plastic + bleach = no bacteria. I had read somewhere that either polypropylene or polyethylene was better, but now can't recall which. Anyone know which is better on knife edges?
     
  13. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Plastic + dishwasher= no bacteria.  Not much difference between the two plastics as far as edge retention goes.
     
  14. cairoboy

    cairoboy

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    Thanks for the reply, however I did read where one was better than another for edge retention. Should have written this down...
     
  15. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    They're both bad for edges.  Not only do they blunt, but they promote chipping as well.  Most people have at least some torque in their chopping and mincing action.  Any plastic soft enough to scratch will grip the edge, that means a lot of lateral force when the knife is twisted, which in turn causes deformation and chipping. 

    If you gotta you gotta.  Don't worry about it, make the best of it.  But if you're serious about maintaining your knives, you won't use plastic. End-grain wood is the best option.

    It's pretty simple keeping a board sanitary without the dishwasher. It's only an issue if you lack good work habits or are unreasonably afraid of "germs."

    BDL
     
  16. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    or are unreasonably afraid of "germs."

    In which case you shouldn't be working with raw foods in the first place. So "which board?" become academic at best.
     
  17. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Maybe I'm just thinking too commerical here.  Many times when I use a cutting board, it's for boning out meat or fish, and when I do this, I like to enough of that particular item to make my time worthwhile.  And they do get grungy after boning out 4 or 6 chickens or fileting 3 or 4 h/on salmon.  I like to use the back of the knife to scrape of most of the grunge, hose it down, and toss it into the d/washer.
     
  18. cairoboy

    cairoboy

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    boar_d_laze you make a point. And my Shun looks just that way. Be darned... I sure learned something. Thanks for that.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2010
  19. cairoboy

    cairoboy

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    How safe is the mineral oil in the wood boards?

    QUOTE:

    According to the National Toxicology Program, unrefined or mildly refined mineral oil is a known carcinogen due to the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which naturally occur in coal and petroleum. PAHs have been linked to various cancers, including scrotal, gastrointestinal, sinonasal, bladder and lung cancer. (reference 5) Mineral oil used for cosmetic purposes is highly refined to remove PAHs, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires that some over-the-counter products containing mineral oil display a warning label. Consumer advocacy groups such as the Environmental Working Group advise exercising caution when using products containing mineral oil until more conclusive research is available.

    Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/151529-negative-effects-of-mineral-oil-in-skin-care/#ixzz18hUJGWge
     
  20. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    Stick with "food grade", then no problems!