September 9, 2012

Choosing a cutting board: A dicey proposition

With all the options out there, how do you know which one is right?

By Meredith Goad
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

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Architec’s Indian Sheesham Gripperwood board sells for $24.99.

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Architec wood boards come in a variety of sizes and range in price accordingly.

Courtesy photos

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YOU COULD ARGUE that it doesn't really matter what kind of board you use as long as you are diligent about cleaning it regularly.

WOODEN BOARDS SHOULD be washed in warm, soapy water, then treated with a wash containing vinegar or bleach.

"I HAVE A nice big wood one at home, and I use it for everything," said Jane St. Pierre, co-owner of Kitchen & Cork in Scarborough. "But I really am careful about washing it, rinsing it, and then I'll keep a small bottle of bleach and water in a spray bottle and just kind of give it a spray and then let it air dry."

WHEN IT COMES to bleach, a little goes a long way. Scott Jones, a chef instructor at the Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School, advised that a good rule of thumb is a capful of bleach to a quart of water. Jones tends to use wooden boards for things like fruit, vegetables and breads so they don't have to get too wet during cleaning.

"IN CULINARY SCHOOL, I learned that the best way to clean wooden cutting boards is with lemon juice and salt," Jones said. "You scrub it and then give it a wipe with a damp cloth with vinegar on it. That's a good way to sanitize your cutting board without running it through your dishwasher."

WOODEN CUTTING BOARDS should also be treated regularly with a little food-grade oil or mineral oil to keep them from cracking and drying out. Do not use vegetable oil or olive oil, because it will seep into the board and turn rancid.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD a board be treated? St. Pierre says it depends on how often you use it. "We do ours here once a month, but we're constantly using ours every day," she said. Jones thinks every couple of weeks is appropriate for a board that gets daily use.

- Meredith Goad

J.K. Adams, a cutting board manufacturer in Vermont, makes a "pour spout" cutting/carving board ($53 to $85) that has a depression in the middle to safely hold a roast or chicken.

It also has a groove all around the edge that ends in a spout. That's so the cook can save the juices from the meat to return to the pan, where it can be transformed into a nice sauce or gravy.


There's no practical advice here. Just go with whatever tickles your sense of whimsy.

J.K. Adams makes boards in lots of fanciful shapes, including farm animals like cows and roosters, and various kinds of fruit. A "water collection" features cutting boards in the shape of whales, turtles, boats and fish.

The boards are covered in a food-safe antique stain, and are lightly distressed to add character.

St. Pierre has fallen in love with the pig board ($30). When customers come in looking for a house-warming gift, it's often what she recommends.

"I love it," she said. "I just think it's the most adorable thing."

"People are known, I guess, to keep this pig board and pass it down from generation to generation," she added.

One customer, St. Pierre said, even framed her pig board and put it on the wall after it had outlived its usefulness.

"Some of the boards are really expensive," she said. "They're almost like showpieces. I've got one that I have in the kitchen here. It's round, it's made by J.K. Adams, and it's just beautiful presentation. At a wine tasting, I'll serve a brie cheese and put some apples or pears around it, and it's actually a serving platter, because it's so pretty."

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:

Twitter: MeredithGoad

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Additional Photos

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J.K. Adams’ fanciful pig board ($30) is made of maple. You can also get a chicken, a cow, a rooster and a fish. They have a food-safe antique stain and retro-colored edges, and are lightly distressed.

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Kitchen Series boards are thin and lightweight. Made of compressed wood that is easier on your knives, they can go right into the dishwasher.

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Epicurean Eco Plastic boards are made out of recycled milk jugs. The Kitchen Series/Eco Plastic boards range in price according to size from $11.99 to $34.99.

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Epicurean designer color-coded boards come in a set of four for $129.99. Each is meant to have a separate use.


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