Huffpost Taste

Cutting Boards Cooks Should Avoid

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A cutting board is a necessary tool in the kitchen -- without it (and a knife) almost no prep can be done. But not all cutting boards are created equal. Some look great and are stylish to boot, but wreak havoc on your knives. Others may appear to be hygienic but actually harbor bacteria as dangerous as salmonella and E. coli. So what cutting board is the best, you ask?

Not every cutting board is good for every task -- some are too porous to use for cutting raw meat, poultry and fish, because they absorb bacteria. Other boards are so hard that they dull the blades of your knives. (But whatever you do, please don't cut on your marble, granite or solid surface countertops!) We'll show you which cutting boards you should steer clear of and which are the right ones to use.

Wood Cutting Boards -- Great

Wood cutting boards are some of the most popular and offer a great look and feel, but there are many things to take into consideration with wood. Even though wood cutting boards are very hard, they're also porous so they absorb everything and anything you put on them, including bacteria. They require oiling to keep the wood in good condition -- the oil helps somewhat by creating a barrier against moisture. And of course, after using them, wood cutting boards require thorough cleaning, drying, and re-oiling. Even with all the care and upkeep wood cutting boards require, they are the best for your knives, because the wood does not dull the blade. If you prefer wood cutting boards, consider using them for cutting only vegetables, herbs and breads.

Bamboo Cutting Boards -- Great

Bamboo, considered a grass and not a wood, makes a terrific cutting board. The fact that it's so fast-growing makes it a renewable resource and a great choice for the eco-conscious. Bamboo acts similar to wood -- it's still somewhat porous but is considered harder than wood. It also requires oiling, because the bamboo can splinter when not cared for properly. Long-time use also makes the bamboo boards a bit furry and more receptive to bacteria -- if that happens it's time to buy a new board.

Plastic Cutting Boards -- OK

Plastic cutting boards are the most often recommended by profesional chefs. Typically made from polyethylene, plastic boards are durable and last long. They can be washed easily by hand or in a dishwasher. They're relatively okay on knives but not as good as wood or bamboo. However plastic cutting boards can harbor bacteria as much as and even more than wood, especially when they get furry from long-time use. But for certain duties plastic boards are recommended, such as keeping a separate color-coded one for each type of protein -- fish, poultry and meat.

Glass Cutting Boards -- Avoid

Glass cutting boards are nonporous and easy to clean -- you can wash them in the sink or the dishwasher. There's also no need to oil them obviously, so there's no upkeep. However, glass cutting boards are the worst for your knives. For this reason we don't recommend glass cutting boards.

We Recommend

Your kitchen should have at least two cutting boards, one wood and one plastic. A wood cutting board is the best for prepping fruits and vegetables. Keep one on your counter and clean and oil it often. For preparing raw proteins, we recommend a plastic board, which should be washed often, preferably in a dish washer. If you like using a cutting board for carving cooked meats, you'll want to have a third cutting board, or you could do so safely on your vegetable board as well.

We also love Epicurean boards, a brand of cutting boards that are made out of a material originally created for skate park surfaces. The cutting boards are made from a combination of different recycled materials including wood and plastic. These boards are safe on knives, safe in dishwashers and are completely nonporous, meaning no bacteria.

What kind of cutting board do you use at home? Leave us a comment below.