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February 8, 2017

Cutting boards are a vital part of any kitchen’s arsenal. In fact, the FDA recommends having at least two: one for raw meat, poultry and fish; the other for fruits and vegetables.

In college, I chopped my veggies on paper plates, so purchasing my first plastic cutting board seemed like a major step in the right direction. While this is true, to an extent, not all cutting boards are equal. There are many options available, but here I’ll lay out the advantages of a wood cutting board.

So what are the benefits of wood? In a nutshell, it’s considered safer and will last longer.

If you don’t have a garbage disposal, then you know it’s even more imperative to keep food scraps out of your sink. Luckily, there are a couple of accessories on the market to make your dinner prep worry-free and to help keep your sink unclogged.

Wood You Rather: Plastic vs. Wood

According to one University of Michigan study, “more bacteria are recovered from a used plastic surface than from a used wood surface.” So even if you diligently avoid cross-contamination, you're still at risk. Cutting on a plastic board leaves lots of grooves where bacteria like to hide and multiply. Plastic cutting boards also need to be replaced about every two years because of this.

On the other hand, one really nifty property of wood is that it self-heals, which reduces knife marks over time. Better yet, if the cutting board is end-grain, the edge of your knife will slide in-between the natural ridges of wood. This reduces cut marks and also helps preserve the sharpness of your knife.

So by now, maybe you’ve decided that E-coli and Salmonella living in your cutting board is both scary and gross, and a wood model is the way to go. But how do you take care of it?

Maintenance

With a little care and attention, your wood cutting board can last for years to come. There are two simple rules: do not soak, and apply oil on a regular basis.

Wood can dry out over time, so applying food-grade mineral oil helps maintain its natural moisture. Without this measure, your cutting board will dull, crack, split, or splinter over time. Dishwashers are also a no-go for your wood cutting board and will result in warping. If this sounds like a deal breaker, don’t worry too much - a little soap and hot water will do the job.

If you are willing to take proper care of your wood cutting board, they are a more sterile option and a long-lasting investment.

PROS:

  • Beautiful craftsmanship
  • Durable and self-healing
  • Easier on knife edges
  • Moisture-resistant
  • Perimeter grooves to collect liquid - easy cleanup (some models)
  • Sustainable

CONS:

  • Requires regular maintenance and oiling
  • Not dishwasher-safe