A selection of wooden chopping boards is an essential part of your basic cooking equipment. Not only are they more decorative than utilitarian looking polyethylene boards, they also contain natural anti-bacterial properties to protect you and your family from unpleasant food hygiene problems.
Choosing wooden chopping boards
Wooden chopping boards can usually be divided into two different types: flat grain and end grain. End grain versions are made of multiple pieces of wood made with a high pressure treatment to bond them together. The large piece is then sliced across to make chopping boards of the required thickness. These kinds of boards are durable, not prone to warping and protect the edge of your knife. When placed on end like this, the wooden fibres bend as a knife is drawn across them rather than being cut and damaged, protecting both the board and the blade.
Flat grain boards are cut along the grain of a larger piece of wood, with three or four pieces fixed together to make the board. The grain pattern makes the boards attractive but they don’t usually last as long as end grain boards.
Wooden chopping boards are often made of beech as it is robust. While a heavy duty bread board sees serious use in the kitchen, for presentation purposes aim for something in a more unusual wood such as acacia or bamboo, maybe in an elegant, decorative shape. While the average board is flat, a crumb catching groove and a set of non-slip feet can be very useful features on a bread board.
Care and maintenance of wooden chopping boards
Wood is naturally hygienic. In tree form the wood contains natural enzymes to protect it, which continue to work against bacteria when the wood is cut. Wooden chopping boards should not be put in a dishwasher or left in soak but washed by hand with hot water and a little washing up liquid. Too much soap will dry out the board. To maintain its condition, oil your wood board periodically.
Serving on wooden chopping boards
Wooden boards make an attractive and unusual way to serve foods. In Spain you will find large hams presented on wooden boards for people to serve themselves as part of a tapas course. In France the main meal of the day is often eaten at lunch time, so in the evening people have a selection of cold meats and cheese with some French bread, usually eaten from small, individual wooden boards.