How to choose the right cutting board for your kitchen
There’s fierce debate when it comes to commercial cutting boards, and for good reason. The wrong cutting board can increase your risk of food-borne illness, dull your expensive knives, slow down your kitchen prep and cause injury. It can also drive your foodservice staff up the wall.
Our cutting boards buying guide will take away all the stress of choosing foodservice cutting boards, so you can get back to slicing and dicing up a storm. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know to choose cutting boards that are a cut above.
5 factors about your kitchen you should consider before buying a new cutting board
Choosing commercial cutting boards isn’t as simple as it might seem. After all, if there’s at least four different ways to chop an onion, you’d better believe there’s going to be variety when it comes to what you use to chop them on.
If you’re just starting to explore your options for commercial cutting boards, here’s what you should be thinking about:
1. Counter size
Counters are valuable real estate in commercial kitchens. Choosing the right size cutting board for your countertops helps you use up every square inch of space. Opt for a cutting board that’s big enough for your needs, while leaving you enough space for ingredients, supplies and tools.
2. Cutting board use
Cutting boards aren’t meant to be a one-stop shop. You should restrict certain ingredients to each cutting board to help with cleaning and to avoid cross contamination. If you’re chopping everything from meat to produce and more, you’re going to want a cutting board for each food group.
Yes, it's also possible you want to do more than cut on your cutting boards. Taking a cutting board directly from the kitchen to the table will determine what board is going to work best.
3. Dishwasher use
If your plan is to run your cutting boards through your dishwasher to speed up the cleaning process, you’ll need to factor that into your choice of cutting boards. Not all materials can withstand the pressure and heat of commercial dishwashers and can warp, peel or fall apart. Or physically won't fit into the dishwasher.
4. Sink size
Dishwasher or not, you’ll also want to make sure that your cutting boards fit comfortably into your sink. An awkward fit will make cleaning them more difficult and time consuming.
5. Storage space
When your cutting boards aren’t in use, do you have a designated storage spot for them? Will they fit under worktables, on shelves or in cupboards? Ensure you have the right storage option to keep your cutting boards close and safely stored.
What you need to know about choosing a cutting board
Let's dive into everything you need to know before choosing cutting boards for your kitchen including construction materials, sizes and cutting board features that may benefit your kitchen prep.
Cutting Board Materials
Cutting boards come in a wide range of materials and the material is surprisingly important when it comes to what you’re using it to chop and how to clean it. There are four main materials for commercial cutting boards, and we’ll dig deeper into each:
Plastic Cutting Boards
Plastic is the most common material for foodservice cutting boards. It is durable, easy to clean and it won’t dull your knives. It’s also affordable, easy to replace, and is non-porous to resist odours. The downside of plastic cutting boards is that each groove and crack stays forever (compared to wood, which has a way of “self-healing”) and they can trap bacteria.
You have options when it comes to plastic cutting boards: high density polyethylene (HDPE) is better quality than standard polyethylene (PE). The higher the density the heavier and typically the higher the quality of cutting board. Medium to high density boards are preferred in high volume kitchens for their durability and stability (they don't twist and warp when lifted and/or transported).
Once your plastic cutting board is littered with knife grooves, it’s time to replace it. Follow the care instructions that come with your plastic cutting boards; while they’re usually dishwasher-safe, you want to avoid melting the plastic.
Wood Cutting Boards
Wood cutting boards can last you for years to come if you care for them well, but this means they can get a little pricey. They are gentle on knives, some have naturally antimicrobial properties making it hard to create bacteria-trapping grooves. However, wood cutting boards are definitely more high maintenance because they need to be hand washed and they’re easy to stain and trap odours. Busy kitchens might find them more of a hassle than they’re worth.
There are three different types of cuts used to manufacture wood cutting boards: end grain, edge grain and face grain.
End Grain Wood is typically used to make butcher blocks. The end grain is where you would see the growth rings of the tree. Blocks of wood are glued together with the end grain up. End grain wood can easily handle the repeated impact of a knife blade and is resistant to nicks and gouges.
Edge Grain Wood, also called vertical grain, is the long thin edge of a milled piece of wood and has long grain patterns. Cutting boards make with this cut of wood are more resistant to stains and absorbing moisture.
Face Grain Wood is the wide face of a milled piece of wood and shows multiple layers of wood grain in differing patterns. Like edge grain, face grain cutting boards are resistant to stains and absorbing moisture.
Caring for wood cutting boards includes hand washing with hot water and soap, thoroughly drying, and storing them vertically on their side. Every 2-4 weeks you can also treat them with a food-safe mineral oil or a combination of oil and beeswax to protect them from stains, odours, warping and splitting. You can also have any grooves and knicks refinished to protect the cutting boards long term.
Remember to check with your local health unit if wood cutting boards are acceptable for use in your commercial kitchen.
Fibrewood Cutting Boards
Fibrewood cutting boards offer many benefits to both commercial and home kitchens. An eco-friendly option, fibrewood cutting boards (also called composite cutting boards) are simple to clean, non-porous to avoid absorption yet attractive enough to take to the table. With heat-resistance and reducing knife blade dulling, many kitchens - home and commercial - use these type of boards.
Rubber Cutting Boards
Rubber cutting boards are another option for commercial kitchens because they’re incredibly durable, safe for knives, affordable, easy to clean and lightweight. They’re great for humid environments, since they don’t warp easily.
However, rubber cutting boards are not the most aesthetically pleasing option, so if you have a visible kitchen or prep area, you might not love the look of them.
There are other cutting board materials, however, these are the most common cutting board options for commercial kitchens. Most kitchens have a variety of cutting boards in a variety of materials and sizes.
Determining Cutting Board Size
The size of your cutting board matters. You’ll want it to fit snugly on your counter and offer enough chopping space. A thick, heavy board will move around less on your countertop, which can be safer, but a thinner, more flexible cutting board is great for transferring ingredients.
It helps to have a range of cutting board sizes handy so you can choose the right one for each job. For example, a cutting board that’s 20-21 inches long and 14-16 inches wide will allow you to cut pretty much anything, but you’ll want smaller options for smaller ingredients (and also to avoid cleaning a large cutting board constantly).
Keep in mind that a chef and a bartender need vastly different sized cutting boards, so consider what exactly is being chopped before choosing a size.
Thickness of the board also needs to be considered as they can range from 1/2" to 2" or more depending on the type and material of the cutting board.
Cutting Board Features That Help Busy Chefs
Cutting boards can have additional features to make your kitchen life easier. Some of the best features to look for include:
Hooks: Hanging your cutting boards will save you a ton of storage space, so look for cutting boards that have holes or built in hooks. Hooks also maintain adequate space around the cutting board which allows for thorough drying and therefore a properly sanitized surface.
Non-slip corners: Grips or non-slip corners help keep your cutting board from sliding around your countertop, keeping it safe and secure and eliminating the need for cutting board mats.
Colour-coded: Colour-coded cutting boards are great for designating certain foods for certain cutting boards without mixing them up, such as red for meat and green for vegetables, to avoid cross-contamination. Visually, the colour-coded system stands out and reduces the risk of grabbing the wrong board.
Dishwasher safe: Dishwasher-safe cutting boards are a game changer in a busy kitchen, especially for rubber/plastic cutting boards.
Edge Grooves: Also called juice grooves, these channels usually found on carving boards, but can also be on regular cutting boards, are designed to collect the juice when slicing cooked meats. Protecting the countertop or table and keeping the juice and fat away from the meat you are slicing.
These are just a few features to look for to make your life easier in the kitchen.
Accessories For Your Cutting Boards
Cutting boards are an essential tool in the kitchen, so it makes sense that you have a range of accessories to choose from to maintain, protect and better use your cutting boards. Some of the top accessories for cutting boards include:
Hooks: Sturdy hooks to hang your cutting boards are a great idea to place around the kitchen in strategic spots to free up valuable storage space.
Safety mats: Designed to prevent cutting boards from slipping (if you choose ones without that built in feature). Cutting board safety mats range in size, are non-absorbent and are placed under the cutting board.
Storage racks: For heavier cutting boards like wood or plastic cutting boards that you can’t hang, storage racks help keep them standing securely and give the board space to dry thoroughly between uses.
Cleaning brushes: Specifically designed, board brushes are great to quickly and thoroughly clean cutting boards so you can clean out any grooves and cracks to prevent bacteria build up.
The Final Cut: Deciding on the Best Foodservice Cutting Boards for You
Every kitchen needs good cutting boards, but “good” can mean many different things to different foodservice and home kitchens. From the size of the cutting board to what it’s made of, there’s a lot to consider when choosing the right cutting boards for your needs.
Written by River Street Writing