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Many new knife owners question the need to use a cutting board with their kitchen knives because they have heard about cutting boards damaging knives. A cutting board should always be used when using knives in the kitchen, and we will discuss why. The key is to choose the right board.
Cutting boards are an important accessory to use with kitchen knives. These boards protect your work surface, your knives, and the ingredients you work with while cooking. They can be an important safety aspect for using sharp knives in the kitchen. Choosing a quality cutting board is crucial.
Many people have a love-hate relationship with cutting boards. You know they should use one but are unsure why and struggle to find the right one. We have detailed the reasons to use a cutting board to motivate you to find a good one and use the right one with the right knives in your kitchen.
If you are interested in checking out the best wooden cutting board, we recommend a cutting board made by the Virginia Boys Kitchens company. You can find it by clicking here (Amazon link).
Top 7 Reasons To Always Use A Cutting Board
Cutting boards have received a bad reputation in the knife-owning community. This is mostly due to the wrong cutting boards used with the wrong knives, resulting in expensive knives being dulled or damaged.
There are more reasons FOR using a cutting board than those AGAINST using a cutting board. The key factor comes down to using the right cutting board for the job.
The benefits of using a cutting board are not only to protect the knife but also to protect the user and the people eating the food from the kitchen.
There are certainly disadvantages to using a cutting board but using a cutting board correctly has crucial advantages that make it a good standard practice in the kitchen.
We have compiled the most important reasons why you should use a cutting board and some general advice on the choice of board, care, and maintenance.
1. Cutting Boards Protect The Work Surface
Different kitchens have varying work surfaces installed, generally focusing on maintaining a sanitary work area.
In kitchens in the home, the focus is not only on a sanitary area for processing food but also on providing an aesthetic in the kitchen that compliments the rest of the house.
No matter what kitchen you work in, there is the risk that the work surface can become damaged, scratched, or cracked if food is processed directly on the work surface.
The damage inflicted on the work surface can be expensive to repair, especially in a home where premium materials have been used to create the work surface.
An appropriate cutting board will protect the work surface when sharp objects such as knives and cleavers are used to process ingredients.
BTW: If you are interested in buying the best cutting board, you can find our recommendations below:
- The best overall: Virginia Kitchen Boys Cutting Board (Amazon link). This fantastic cutting board is made from sustainable walnut wood from the United States and brings almost perfect safety when cutting with your knives.
- Alternative: Yoshihiro Cutting Board (Amazon link). Professional traditional Japanese cutting board that chefs around the world use.
- Cheaper option: Shun Cultery Cutting Board (Amazon link). Another Japanese cutting board stands out, especially for its simplicity and affordable price.
2. Cutting Boards Prevent A Knife From Becoming Dull
This point is one of the most contentious aspects of using a cutting board in the kitchen. The difference in opinion on this matter is that some cutting boards can cause the knife to become dull rather than prevent it from becoming dull.
There is truth to both sides of this story. Using an inappropriate cutting board can dull your knife, but this is due to a lack of understanding of what makes a good chopping board.
If you used a cutting board at all, the work surface in the kitchen is likely a hard material such as granite, stainless steel, marble, or hardwood.
These surfaces are too hard to use a sharp knife to cut directly on the work surface. Besides damaging the work surface, the knife’s cutting edge will also become dull.
The same principle will apply if the wrong type of cutting board is used, such as glass, granite, or marble.
The hard surfaces of these boards or the work surface will roll the cutting edge of the knife over to one side or wear the edge away, causing the knife to become dull.
Using the right cutting board, such as a medium-hard wood board, will preserve the knife’s sharpness. The wood fibers in these boards have some flexibility or springiness that is gentler on the knife’s cutting edge.
This characteristic prevents the blade from slicing or chopping down on an immovable surface, which will dull the cutting edge much faster.
TIP: A sharp knife makes all the effort of cutting, but not all knives can hold a sharp edge and stay sharp for a long time. Check out the best ones in the article below:
These 3 Kitchen Knives Hold the Best Edge (You Should Try)
3. Cutting Boards Won’t Chip A High Carbon Steel Knife
If you own a set of Japanese kitchen knives, a good cutting board can be one of the best companions to use with these expensive knives.
Most Japanese kitchen knives are made with top-quality Japanese high-carbon steel. The quality of the steel allows the blade to be hardened to a much higher degree than standard knife steel.
The hardness of the steel has benefits in the design of the blade and the level of sharpness the blade edge can hold. The hard steel allows the cutting edge to be ground very thin, producing a knife that has a durable and extremely sharp edge.
The hardness of the high-carbon steel comes at a price. The steel is hard, but flexibility is compromised, making the steel more brittle than other knife steel.
If a Japanese high-carbon steel kitchen knife is used on a hard, inflexible surface, the cutting edge can chip and crack, or chunks can be gouged out of the sharp edge.
This damage on these knives can require expensive repair work to re-shape the blade and restore the cutting edge. In some cases, the damage to the knife may be so severe that it cannot be repaired without compromising the balance and design of the knife.
If the sharp edge is slammed onto a hard surface while chopping ingredients, cracks can develop that extend from the cutting edge up to the knife’s spine. Knives that have sustained this damage are unsafe and generally cannot be repaired.
A good cutting board designed for Japanese kitchen knives is one of the best choices in the kitchen to make your expensive knives last longer and retain their sharpness.
4. Cutting Boards Prevent Cross-Contamination Of Ingredients
It is important in any kitchen to keep work surfaces clean and prevent certain raw ingredients from coming into contact with one another.
There are two primary reasons why this is important. The first reason is bacterial cross-contamination of the ingredients.
Bacteria in some foods, such as raw meat, can contaminate other ingredients, such as vegetables when the ingredients are processed on the same work surface. This is particularly problematic if the vegetables are to be served uncooked.
Different meats should not be processed on the same cutting surface to prevent bacterial cross-contamination. Raw chicken should not be processed on the same surface as raw beef or fish.
Cross-contamination of bacteria can result in serious consequences for diners eating the food. Food poisoning or, even more dangerous, salmonella contamination can make people extremely sick and potentially life-threatening.
Cleanliness is a foundational practice in any kitchen, and using cutting boards can help prevent this kind of cross-contamination between ingredients.
The second form of cross-contamination in the kitchen is flavor contamination. Ingredients with strong flavors or aromas can infiltrate more delicate ingredients if processed on the same work surface.
For example, garlic processed on a surface for inclusion in a meat dish can influence parsley for your salad, chopped on the same surface. You will end up with garlic-flavored parsley in your salad.
Different cutting boards can be designated for use with certain ingredients to combat both flavor and bacterial cross-contamination.
In many commercial kitchens, this is a health and safety requirement, and cutting boards are sometimes color-coded to show which ingredients must be used to process.
TIP: Any surface used in the kitchen for food preparation must be kept scrupulously clean. Check out proven methods for cleaning wooden cutting boards in the article below:
4 Proven Methods: Cleaning Wooden & Bamboo Cutting Boards
5. Using A Cutting Board Is Safer
A good cutting board is an important safety measure in the kitchen. Wet ingredients are slippery and difficult to control, especially if you are not working on a solid, level workspace.
A cutting board offers stability while processing these ingredients and minimizes the chance of the ingredients or the knife slipping and resulting in an injury from the knife.
A good cutting board should have enough weight to prevent it from slipping around on the work surface and provide a stable platform to work safely with your knife.
The cutting board should ideally have a little height to raise the ingredients off the work surface and give your knuckles on your knife hand space above the work surface. This prevents your knuckles from contacting the work surface while chopping ingredients.
Some cutting boards, mostly the cheap varieties, can be more of a safety hazard in the kitchen rather than enhance safety. This issue makes the cutting board an important safety factor in the kitchen.
Don’t cut costs with your cutting board simply because you see it as a disposable piece of kitchen equipment. A good quality, the well-maintained cutting board can last for years!
6. Cutting Boards Are Durable
Good quality cutting boards are durable additions to your kitchen, especially if you take the time to care for the cutting boards properly.
Most people who have only experienced poor-quality cutting boards are reluctant to spend money on a more expensive one.
This is because poor-quality cutting boards are not durable. The damage easily and requires replacement frequently. This experience tends to bias people against spending money on an expensive cutting board since they expect it not to last very long.
Fortunately, good-quality cutting boards are specially designed for use in the kitchen and are made to be durable.
The materials chosen for these cutting boards will ensure durability when combined with proper maintenance and care of the board by the owner.
Don’t be tempted to buy a glass or stone cutting board to increase durability. These cutting boards may last a long time, but they will damage your knives.
7. Replacing A Cutting Board Is Cheaper Than Replacing A Knife
Quality cutting boards are durable, but they will experience wear and tear over time, requiring the board to be replaced from time to time.
Quality cutting boards may be a little more expensive than poor-quality ones. Still, the cost of a better cutting board is definitely cheaper than replacing an expensive Japanese kitchen knife.
Spending more on your cutting board means you will spend less on knife sharpening and repair costs.
TIP: The choice of cutting board material is key, especially if you have expensive kitchen knives. Check out the comparison of cutting board materials in the article below:
3 Best Cutting Boards For Your Knives (Materials Compared)
Disadvantages Of Using Cutting Boards
Most of the disadvantages of cutting boards relate to making poor choices in the type and quality of the cutting board.
Poorly made cutting boards will be easily scored, scratched, and gouged by the knife, requiring frequent replacement. This problem is most typical in cheap plastic cutting boards.
Avoid composite cutting boards that have been glued together. The material may be gentle on your knife’s cutting edge, but the hard glue holding the pieces together can damage the knife’s edge.
Some of the glues used to hold the boards together may not be food-safe and could pose a contamination risk to the food you prepare. This principle applies to cutting boards made from laminated wood products such as plywood.
Cutting boards require maintenance. Cutting boards should be treated with the same care as your kitchen knives. The two items work together in tandem and should be well-maintained for the best performance in the kitchen.
What Are The Best Cutting Boards To Use?
Most experienced knife users agree that the best cutting boards are made from wood. However, you get both good and bad wood cutting boards.
Some wood is too hard for a cutting board, and others too soft. The right wood type for a cutting board is a medium hardwood, such as maple, with good durability but some flex in the wood fibers.
Plastic cutting boards can be of excellent quality, but the plastic compound must be specially formulated to produce a cutting board that is knife-friendly.
TIP: While a plastic cutting board may save you a few dollars in the checkout line, it may be more expensive if you use it with your expensive kitchen knives! Find out more in the article below:
4 Reasons Why Plastic Cutting Boards Are Bad For Knives
What Are The Worst Cutting Boards To Use?
There are several cutting board types that you should avoid using with your kitchen knives. Some of these cutting boards may have visual appeal in your kitchen, but the damage they can do to your knives makes them a poor choice.
- Glass cutting boards. Glass or ceramic cutting boards should be avoided at all costs. The boards may look good, but the surface is too hard and dulls knives quickly. These boards should never be used with high-carbon steel knives such as Japanese kitchen knives.
- Stone cutting boards. Stone cutting boards include marble and granite cutting boards.
- Hard plastic cutting boards. Hard plastic can be as inflexible as glass or stone cutting boards and can inflict similar damage on your knives.
- Thin, lightweight cutting boards. Thin boards with no weight to prevent slippage can be a safety hazard in the kitchen.
Cutting boards should always be used in the kitchen with your knives because they provide a safe platform to work with your sharp kitchen knives.
Good quality cutting boards are beneficial for extending your kitchen knives’ edge retention and longevity.
TIP: The abundance of sharpening solutions available adds layers of complexity to the choice of knife sharpener. Check out a detailed comparison of the knife sharpening tools in the article below:
5 Reasons Why Whetstones Are Better Than Any Sharpeners