Few kitchen equipment are essential as cutting boards. Although you may try to cut food without a cutting board, some kitchen activities such as mincing, chopping, dicing, and smashing require cutting boards.
The best cutting board for restaurants depends on your needs and taste. Common cutting board wood materials include maple, olive, oak, walnut, olive, beech, and teak. Consider toxicity, cost, porosity, and conditioning of the cutting board wood you intend to purchase.
There are many options for cutting board wood on the market, making it surprisingly difficult to determine the best option for you. The sizes and shapes of cutting boards also do vary. Excellent cutting board wood withstands wear and tear with repeated use.
Best Wood for Cutting Boards
Consider the safety of the cutting board wood you intend to purchase. In addition, excellent cutting board wood should not dull your knives or other cutlery you use with the board. A few factors to consider when choosing cutting board wood include:
- Wood hardness rating
- Wood porosity
- Wood toxicity
- Woodcare and conditioning
- Cost of the wood
Wood Hardness Rating
Janka hardness rating is the standard measure for rating cutting board wood. Cutting board wood with a high hardness rating is more resistant to denting and scratching from knives.
Hardwood has the highest Janka hardness rating compared to pine wood. In addition, a hardwood board is less vulnerable to damage. Softwoods have a lower rating hence can become damaged quickly.
Consider buying a cutting board with a high rating if you use it for professional culinary work. Remember, a premium cutting board is likely to cost more than lower quality cutting boards made of softwood.
All wood types, hard or soft, have tiny pores on their surfaces. The higher the porosity (bigger holes), the more absorbent the wood. Consider buying cutting boards with less porosity. They are water-resistant and less likely to warp or stain.
Porous cutting boards quickly absorb water and bacteria. Such boards are not safe for handling food in the kitchen. Open-grained cutting boards are the most porous. They are not ideal for chopping raw meat and fresh vegetables. Be careful of highly porous cutting boards as they crack or split easily.
The best cutting boards for restaurants are made from fruit or nut trees. Trees with edible leaves or sap also make the best restaurant cutting boards. Other woods that don’t produce fruit, nuts, or edible leaves/sap may contain toxins.
Purpleheart wood, which makes beautiful cutting boards, is highly toxic. The toxins can leak into food and cause poisoning. Research on the potential toxicity of cutting boards before buying them. Fortunately, some liquid disinfectants can reduce the toxicity of cutting boards.
It is essential to condition your wooden cutting board to increase its shelf life. Conditioning cutting boards involves drying and oiling the wood surface to protect it. Mineral oil is the best option for conditioning cutting boards after washing. This oil soaks into the wood, creating a water-resistant and antibacterial surface.
Many restaurants use mineral oil to stop shrinking and warping of cutting board wood. This oily protective layer maintains the integrity of the wood, even in less humid environments. Always condition your cutting board every three months. Cutting boards that shrink or warp easily will need frequent conditioning to keep them in good shape.
Cutting board prices depend on the type of wood used to make them. Hardwood cutting boards are pricier than softwood boards. In addition, a cutting board wood with a lower hardness rating will be cheaper than one with a higher rating. Wood thickness can also determine the price of cutting boards.
Best Wood for Making Cutting Boards
Woodcutting boards are made of either hard or soft wood. Both kinds of wood have their strengths and weaknesses. The best wood for chopping boards include:
Olive is the hardest hardwood in the world. It has a hardness rating of 1520 lbf ranking it higher than maple.
Olive wood is non-porous and water-resistant. This hardwood is food-safe because it is less likely to absorb bacteria and toxins.
With a high hardness rating, olive wood is highly impact-resistant. It is recommended for chopping and dicing large chunks of meat bone-in. This wood is excellent for chopping vegetables too. Another winning factor of olive wood is its beautiful grain detail.
Mineral oils from foodstuffs help to enhance the beauty of the wood grain while maintaining its longevity. The downside of an olive wood cutting board is that it easily warps in cold and less humid environments. The natural oils on the wood surface also degrade with time. Conditioning your olive boards quarterly or bi-annually helps to maintain its condition.
Maple wood is the industry standard for making restaurant cutting boards. It has a hardness rating of 1450lbf and is well suited for professional culinary work.
Maple cutting boards are scratch and impact resistant. The cutting board surface will not dull knives either. Consider buying maple wood cutting boards if you are concerned about food safety. Maple wood has smaller pores that block moisture, stains, and bacteria.
On the downside, maple wood cutting boards shrink faster than other hardwoods. You have to condition them every month to maintain their quality. In addition, Maple wood chopping boards are not ideal for less humid environments.
Though maple wood is resistant to many stains, it is not easy to clean. In addition, maple wood cutting boards are costly.
Beechwood is second to maple in terms of hardness. It has a hardness rating of 1300 and is gentle on knives and other cutlery.
Like maple, beechwood has small surface pores that repel moisture, bacteria, and food stains. In addition, beech cutting boards are cheaper compared to maple boards.
Beech cutting boards have a pink, brown, or cream finish. Though these colors look pristine on wood, they do hide stains well.
Oakwood makes the most attractive chopping boards because of its beautiful graining. This wood has a hardness of 1290 lbf, which makes it ideal for professional culinary work. Oak cutting boards are the best for highly humid environments. Its non-porous surface repels water and bacteria, which makes it food-safe.
Oakwood is warp and split resistant too. It is the most durable wood to use in both restaurants and homes. Oak stain very well for a glossy finish. Dark stained oak chopping boards are great for food presentation and food photography.
On the downside, oak wood does not perform well in cold environments. Chilly weather can ruin the oily finish on oak wood lowering its aesthetics. Oakwood finish also reacts with adhesives, which can cause the wood to become dull-looking.
Oak chopping boards are quite heavy compared to other hardwoods. This makes them less portable, primarily when used in making butcher blocks.
Teak is a tough hardwood with a Janka hardness rating of 1070lbf. It is highly resistant to scratching or impact from large kitchenware like meat hammers and cleavers.
Teak has a closed-grain surface that stains better for a pristine finish. In addition, teak has less shrinkage compared to other hardwoods. In addition, teak chopping boards are low maintenance. Conditioning them quarterly or bi-annually is enough to keep them in good condition.
On the downside, teak is highly porous. Therefore, it absorbs moisture and bacteria faster. It is also prone to food stains.
Walnut is a soft hardwood with a hardness rating of 1010lbf, making it less likely to dull knife blades. Walnut cutting boards may not be chef-standard, but they are ideal for everyday home use. These boards have medium porosity, which, to some degree, make them food-safe.
Though Walnut is not as hard as maple, it shrinks less compared to maple. In addition, walnut has a beautiful chocolate finish that hides stains better. The downside of Walnut chopping boards is that they dent or scratch easily.
The best cutting board wood for restaurants is non-porous and less likely to damage knives. In addition, scratch and dent resistant boards are low-maintenance in the long run. Consider conditioning your cutting board regularly to maintain their quality.