The 10 Best Wood Cutting Boards
10. Architec Gripperwood
9. Provo Teak Edge-Grain
8. John Boos Reversible
7. Ironwood Gourmet Acacia
6. Epicurean Prep Series
5. Proteak Edge Grain
4. Virginia Boys Walnut
3. Utopia Kitchen
2. Catskill Craftsmen Pro
1. Greener Chef Extra Large
A Brief History Of Cutting Boards
The first wooden cutting board was likely just a tree stump that a caveman used for support while hacking away at meat with a primitive stone tool. Those tools would soon improve, turning into knives with sharp blades, and the wooden surface would be refined right along with them.
Their utility was soon realized for much more than just cutting meat, however. Many blacksmiths used them while hammering out swords and armor, and as you might expect, these early boards were more like tables, with massive, reinforced legs that were capable of standing up to quite a pounding.
It was butchers that would get the most use out of them, though. They didn't need something that could endure being battered with a hammer, so their blocks were just large cuts of wood rather than full-on tables. These units soon made their way into private homes, as well, as there was a need for a way to prepare meat without dulling utensils.
These blocks worked so well, in fact, that their basic underlying principle was borrowed for a far more macabre purpose: as executioner's blocks. Back when the favored means of doling out justice was an ax to the back of the neck, large wooden slabs were placed under the condemned's head to provide resistance and to protect the blade (after all, you have to have priorities).
By the time that European settlers began moving to the New World, cutting boards had become so ingrained in their culture that they quickly began popping up in America. The virgin country had plenty of timber to use to make boards, and with all the wild game available to hunters, the blocks soon became ubiquitous.
Since cutting boards aren't exactly the most high-tech items, there hasn't been much change in their appearance over the centuries. However, in recent years, the materials used to make these tools have broadened to include plastic, bamboo, and rubber, and the sizes have become smaller as grocery stores have reduced the need to purchase large quantities of meat from a local butcher.
While you may not feel the need to chop up entire animals in your kitchen, having a quality cutting board is still a huge help during meal prep — and, most importantly, you can pretend to be an old-time executioner while you're chopping celery.
How To Use A Cutting Board
The very suggestion that you may not know how to use a cutting board might sound condescending — after all, it's not exactly rocket surgery. Just put it under your food and hack away, right?
Well...it turns out it's not quite so simple. While that strategy will definitely work, in order to get the full value from your board, there are a couple of things you should know about ahead of time.
The first thing you should do is place a mat or towel underneath your board before you begin so that it doesn't slide around the counter top. Food prep is difficult — and dangerous — enough as it is without trying to hit a moving target.
Make sure that you're using a board big enough to do the job, as well. While you may feel like it's better to prevent your work space from getting too crowded, using a too-small chef's block only limits your mobility, causing you to contort your hands and increasing the risk that you'll develop carpal-tunnel syndrome someday.
Try to keep the surface of the board as clean and dry as possible, even if you need to wash and dry it off in between foods. You don't want your knife slipping while you're in the middle of a chop, and neither do you want to cross-contaminate foods, especially if you've been cutting up raw chicken.
Once you get the hang of using your new cutting board, you'll find that food prep is much quicker than it used to be — and that your knives stay sharper, too.
Proper Care Of A Wooden Cutting Board
First off, don't ever put your wood cutting board into the dishwasher. You'll need to hand wash it with soap, and dry it thoroughly with a microfiber cloth. Be sure to wash both sides, even if you only used one, as uneven exposure to water can cause one side to warp over time.
Once it's nice and dry, it's time to rub some mineral oil into it. Pour a generous amount over the board, then work it into every nook and cranny. Again, even if you didn't use one side, be sure to oil it anyway so that everything is uniformly moisturized.
After you're done, stand it up on its edge so that both cutting surfaces are exposed to the air, and leave it out to let the oil soak in. Be sure to leave it like this for at least three hours, but overnight is better, if possible.
If you're serious about keeping your board in mint condition, you should then apply a layer of cutting board cream, which is usually a mixture of more mineral oil and beeswax. Apply it with a cloth, and rub it in small, circular motions. Once applied, it should lock the moisture you just applied into the wood, while preventing any further wetness to penetrate, extending the life of the board (and giving it a gorgeous sheen).
While this may sound like a lot of work, you shouldn't need to do it all every night. Once every few weeks should be more than enough for the moisturizing and conditioning, so all you need to do is wash and thoroughly dry it after every use.
Still, despite your best efforts, there may come a time when you have to give up on your trusted kitchen companion. This shouldn't be for many years to come, though, but when it's outlived its usefulness, do the right thing and give it a Viking funeral.