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CUTTING BOARD - Page 2

post #31 of 55
What are everyone's thoughts on epicurean wood fiber type boards? I am a home cook and I feel as though my knives need sharpening more often than they should for my level of use. Might it be the cutting board, or should I explore other possible causes?
post #32 of 55

I use a big round maple end grain cutting board for veg bread, pizza etc. I also have a plastic one for raw meats, one for fruit, and one for cooked meats (will replace that with wood). I can't stand my breakfast fruit tasting like last nights onion, even though I do scrub it clean. Since its so big (18" X4") cleaning in the sink is not so easy, so it usually just gets a wipe down, soap once every few days. I've done so many onions on it that when I bake bread and put it face down on the board it has a wonderful vegetable variety smell to the next slice, even after cleaning. The smell only goes away when I oil it.

 

However, the plastic cutting boards available at Williams Sonoma or other retailers aren't that great, imo, and leave tiny particles in your food after many cuts across previous cuts. This is used in some commercial kitchens and takes a beating. The cuts seal up because it's rubber. Also very easy on knives. You can brunoise 20 onions and it looks exactly the same afterwards.

 

http://www.jbprince.com/pc_combined_results.asp?search_prod=%28searchlike~p.nm~cutting%20boards|Or|searchlike~p.ds~cutting%20boards|Or|searchlike~p.sku~cutting%20boards|Or|searchlike~p.opt3~cutting%20boards|Or|searchlike~p.opt5~cutting%20boards%29|and|&search_keyword=cutting%20boards

post #33 of 55

What are everyone's thoughts on epicurean wood fiber type boards? I am a home cook and I feel as though my knives need sharpening more often than they should for my level of use. Might it be the cutting board, or should I explore other possible causes?

 

They're in the same class as bamboo and rubber (like Sani-Tuff or the rubber boards Jake recommended in his post).  All of those are harder on your knives than end-grain or long-grain wood.  Furthermore, all three of them feel unpleasant in one way or another.   Wood fiber is too hard; bamboo is a weird combination of hardness and springiness; and rubber is... well... rubbery. 

 

But they're not as bad as nylon, any other type of plastic, or fiberglass -- all of which promote chipping to a much greater degree.  

 

The dulling that fiber, rubber and bamboo do to most knife edges, is what's called "impact burring."  That is, they cause the edges to bend to the sides or fold partly over.  In other words, the edges go out of "true."  The best way to fix that for most knives -- if it's not too severe -- is with a "steel."  But you've got to use the right kind of steel and use it correctly, or you'll end up creating more damage to the knife with the steel than you'll repair. 

 

Sometimes the edge will fold too far over (i.e., "collapse") to be steeled back to true, and in that case will need to be sharpened (not on a steel).   

 

Most people, including the pros you see on TV, do not use a steel correctly.  If you want to know more about why and how to steel,  this may be of some help.

 

BDL

post #34 of 55

RE: steel

 

I understand that oval steel is better than round. Oval has larger surface area.
 

post #35 of 55

What makes you think a larger surface area makes for a better steel?

 

If time and effort were the most important things about using a knife-steel, the issue wouldn't "surface area" at all, but the area of the "contact patch."  A smaller contact patch means the same amount of energy generates more pressure, because pressure is the reciprocal of area.   So, contrary the caption on the illustration, a steel with a smaller contact patch will actually work more efficiently. 

 

Also, the illustration is somewhat misleading because a given oval steel's contact patch area is not entirely a function of the cross-sectional radii of the oval.  Because an oval (ellipse) has two different radii, the area of the contact patch will also, partly, depend on which radius the knife is closer to perpendicular.  Thus, if the knife is held perpendicular to the short radius and against the flat part of the oval, the area of the contact patch would be greater; but that would mean that the user could only use that part of the oval to get its benefits, and it would quickly catch dirt and swarf, and just as quickly wear down. 

 

Another way in which the illustration is misleading is that the diameter of the round steel and radii of the oval appear to have been chose at random. 

 

However, there are many things wrong with the entire premise.  If a larger contact patch worked better than a small one, we'd all be truing our knives on flat surfaces.  A smaller contact patch is more efficient and takes less time and energy, but it transfers a lot of energy to a knife edge.  Consequently, most of us who own knives which are too thin, too hard, sharpened too acutely, profiled too asymmetrically, or are otherwise too fragile to steel, true those knives by stropping on a hard-backed strop or by "touching up" on our fine stones. 

 

As long as the steel is clean and free from nicks, the most important aspect is the texture of the surface.  Good knives should only be steeled on fine or polished rods. 

 

But it's true that steels with very small diameters can be difficult to use.  The smaller the contact patch, the greater the force transferred to the blade by a given amount of force from the user.  Small variations in force from the user can cause proportionally greater variations in force on the edge, and the consequences of inconsistency and error are magnified.  So, oval or flat, we don't want to go with too small a steel. 

 

The truth is that oval and round steels work equally well, as long as the diameters aren't too large.  I prefer and recommend round steels because I feel they make it easier to hold a consistent angle from knife to steel; but that's more a matter of taste than physics; and high quality round steels tend to be less expensive than equally high quality oval steels.

 

Very few people really know what a steel's for and even fewer know how to use one properly.  Almost every "chef" you'll see on TV uses them wrong.  It might help you to read this.

 

BDL

post #36 of 55
John Boos mystery oil to protect your hard wood cutting board. Personally I like plastic. You can refinish plastic and they can go in the dishwasher. I feel they are more sanitary.
post #37 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by ServingSara View Post

John Boos mystery oil to protect your hard wood cutting board. Personally I like plastic. You can refinish plastic and they can go in the dishwasher. I feel they are more sanitary.

Feeling and knowing are very different!

 

Pour yourself a cup of coffee/tea or your beverage of choice and do a little research, you may discover some knowledge that will change your feeling.

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Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
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post #38 of 55
Let me rephrase that. I wouldn't ever cut meat on a wooden cutting board but even if i did I would have another cutting board for veggies and such.
post #39 of 55

Why would you not use a wooden cutting board for meat?  Wood has been used by meat cutters for hundreds of years, and there are near zero problems associated with the practice.  Wood is definitely easier on knives. 

post #40 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

What makes you think a larger surface area makes for a better steel?

 

If time and effort were the most important things about using a knife-steel, the issue wouldn't "surface area" at all, but the area of the "contact patch."  A smaller contact patch means the same amount of energy generates more pressure, because pressure is the reciprocal of area.   So, contrary the caption on the illustration, a steel with a smaller contact patch will actually work more efficiently. 

 

Also, the illustration is somewhat misleading because a given oval steel's contact patch area is not entirely a function of the cross-sectional radii of the oval.  Because an oval (ellipse) has two different radii, the area of the contact patch will also, partly, depend on which radius the knife is closer to perpendicular.  Thus, if the knife is held perpendicular to the short radius and against the flat part of the oval, the area of the contact patch would be greater; but that would mean that the user could only use that part of the oval to get its benefits, and it would quickly catch dirt and swarf, and just as quickly wear down. 

 

Another way in which the illustration is misleading is that the diameter of the round steel and radii of the oval appear to have been chose at random. 

 

However, there are many things wrong with the entire premise.  If a larger contact patch worked better than a small one, we'd all be truing our knives on flat surfaces.  A smaller contact patch is more efficient and takes less time and energy, but it transfers a lot of energy to a knife edge.  Consequently, most of us who own knives which are too thin, too hard, sharpened too acutely, profiled too asymmetrically, or are otherwise too fragile to steel, true those knives by stropping on a hard-backed strop or by "touching up" on our fine stones. 

 

As long as the steel is clean and free from nicks, the most important aspect is the texture of the surface.  Good knives should only be steeled on fine or polished rods. 

 

But it's true that steels with very small diameters can be difficult to use.  The smaller the contact patch, the greater the force transferred to the blade by a given amount of force from the user.  Small variations in force from the user can cause proportionally greater variations in force on the edge, and the consequences of inconsistency and error are magnified.  So, oval or flat, we don't want to go with too small a steel. 

 

The truth is that oval and round steels work equally well, as long as the diameters aren't too large.  I prefer and recommend round steels because I feel they make it easier to hold a consistent angle from knife to steel; but that's more a matter of taste than physics; and high quality round steels tend to be less expensive than equally high quality oval steels.

 

Very few people really know what a steel's for and even fewer know how to use one properly.  Almost every "chef" you'll see on TV uses them wrong.  It might help you to read this.

 

BDL


Sorry, a lot of that didn't make any sense to me. I don't believe the diagram is misleading at all, and more pressure isn't necessarily better. It doesn't take much to true an edge if properly sharpened. Oval steel provides more surface area so that when you glide the knife across the surface, a larger swath is trued. Especially if you use your wrists to cover the entire arc of the steel and are slightly acute of perpendicular. By the way, what is diagrammed above is neither and oval nor an ellipse. They are two arcs opposite/ mirrored to one another with rounded ends.  Also, ellipses and ovals have more than two different radii.

 

Mathematically, any straight line "should" always be a single tangent point on any given arc when perpendicular, but since a knife traveling across a steel isn't in the same position as it moves, the size of the arc matters. Also, if you continue to bend the edge straight, it fatigues the steel, like repeatedly bending a paper clip.

 

Don’t waste your money on an oval Dickoron or any other oval, unless you’re (a) using German steel; and (b) know what you’re doing.  Ovals are designed to simulate several different types of steels depending on how the steel is held,

 

You can get an oval steel for not much more than a round in the same range or material specification. Yes, technique is very important here, and if you know how to use a round, using an oval isn't that much different. Frankly, if you are using a knife with a shallower edge (like a shun santoku), I feel like oval is better, imo.

 

As much as using steel employs physics, geometry plays an equally important part. In the end, since the knife is moving across a length, the shape of the steel is slightly negated, but the time required to effectively do the same job is shortened due to the larger "patch" as you call it. In the end, I believe the difference to be negligible and I agree that both work well, but some prefer oval. I just wonder why most of the chefs I've come across own 'oval' steel and professional kitchen suppliers provide both.

 

Thanks for the link, but I know what steel is used for and how to use it. If I sound snarky I apologize. I just don't like being talked down to.

post #41 of 55

My son made a LOT of cutting boards during his cabinet-making career; he started by buying for a song a semi-trailer load of hard-rock maple cutoffs from a fabricator of bowling alleys. As part of his research efforts, he found several studies of cutting board sanitation done by the Univ. of Wisconsin Dept. of Food Science (Madison.). They all concluded that wood boards, properly cleaned, disinfected, oiled and regularly maintained, are actually more sanitary than plastic, bamboo, rubber or - God forbid - glass. This is because the porous wood will absorb any unremoved bacteria into the wood... where it dies fairly promptly! On the other materials, any overlooked pathogens just sit there, waiting to join the next meal.

 

Coupled with its more-friendly surface for cutting edges, this is a significant advantage. It's still advisable to use separate, dedicated boards for different foods, especially meat and fish.

 

As for oiling, you don't need fancy, "patent" board oils at high prices: your local pharmacy has small bottles of USP grade mineral oil which will never become rancid, as will every vegetable- and nut-based oil.Since it's not being promoted as some kind of miracle, the USP oil is quite reasonably priced, For assembly the pieces must be machined truly so all joints are tight and securely clamped to eliminate any open joints or cracks which could harbor bacteria. This is easily achieved with any reasonably-tuned and adjusted table saw with a trued blade.  AND an adequate number of clamps.  Lay out your clamping strategy and placement before you start spreading the glue!  I like to use Titebond III glue which is food grade and completely moisture-proof.and offers a good open time to adjust your pieces.

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post #42 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by ServingSara View Post

John Boos mystery oil to protect your hard wood cutting board. Personally I like plastic. You can refinish plastic and they can go in the dishwasher. I feel they are more sanitary.

 

 

Plastic is not "more sanitary". Once you scratch plastic it holds bacteria. Not even running it through a dish machine will always sanitize it which is why the Health Department makes us toss scratched plastic boards. Maple butcher blocks have been around for over a hundred years. Both Boos and Michigan Maple Block began making them in the 1880's. Some one mentioned their bathroom being cleaner up-thread. I doubt that. Most of us sanitize a cutting board after every use. Do you ever sanitize your tooth brush? Your tooth brush has more bacteria than your toilet and probably more than any thing in your home. Yet you stick it in your mouth day after day.

That boos "mystery" oil is just food grade mineral oil. Buy it at any drug store, wally world etc for about a buck a bottle. If you want to make your own board wax melt parafin or bees wax into the mineral oil with a ratio of 1/8-1/10 and store it in a canning jar.

A quality wood cutting board should last for years, if not a lifetime if properly cared for.

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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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post #43 of 55
Gunga, is that cigarette ash or dried blood in the crevices of that board? Or is it both? Or is it NH....in a dried form with a black Irish hue?
post #44 of 55

I'm torn. I kinda want to go with wood but some of those boards look nasty. What is the life expectancy of a wood cutting board?
 

post #45 of 55

I get one of those bamboo boards at Wallys and discard after a couple of years of use and abuse and get another one for just a few dollars.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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post #46 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomago View Post

I'm torn. I kinda want to go with wood but some of those boards look nasty. What is the life expectancy of a wood cutting board?

 

It really depends. If you find the cutting board at an inner city flea market, you have no more than a few good turns. If purchased new from a non-Irish vendor, you could get a good year out of it with proper sanitation.
post #47 of 55

One other thing about wood boards.  They can be resurfaced if the face gets too beat up.  You can do it yourself with a sander or scraper, or get a cabinet shop with a thickness sander to do it for you. 

post #48 of 55

Tomago - This is the one I own :

I've had it for 6 years and it's looks almost like new after I oil it. End grain is very durable.

Edge grain or face grain can get nasty, requiring re-surfacing, and you are limited if it's only half to three quarter inch thick.

This baby at almost 3 1/2 inches can be resurfaced until I die and it'll still be around.

As long as I oil it. Yeah, it's pricey, but it will last a couple of generations if cared for properly.

 

http://www.overstock.com/Home-Garden/Maple-End-Grain-18-inch-Round-Chopping-Block/3303868/product.html

post #49 of 55

The board Jake linked to at Overstock.com is by Michigan Maple Block.  Although it's a tad thicker, it looks a lot like our Boos 18" (diameter) x 3" (thick), endgrain, maple.   Our Boos is next to the sink, one of two boards we keep out all the time.  It's mostly used for raw meat, and I like it heaps. 

A lot of people sell Boos.  We bought ours at SLT.  Even with a 15% professional discount, the Boos board is still more expensive than the one at Overstock.  Boos is a bigger name, and for a lot of old-school professional cooks, Boos is the only name.  However, while Boos makes goods boards they're not the only ones.   Michigan Maple may be just as good. 

 

Boos is currently advertising it as a Chinese Chopping block, but it isn't.  Chinese chopping blocks are made with soft wood with the idea that they'll hollow out and be frequently replaced.  This only similarity between the Boos board and a Chinese block is their round shape.  I suppose Boos was trying to distinguish this 3" thick board from its 4" thick round boards.  Those run close to $300. 

 

If you're going to buy an expensive board, it might be worth it to spend a couple of extra bucks to buy from somewhere with a really good return and replace policy like SLT.   I wish I could say that was my reasoning at the time of purchase.  Linda (my wife) wanted it.  We bought it.  Simple as that. 

 

Our primary board is an 18 x 24 Boardsmith, endgrain mahogany:

We've had it (and the Boos) for a couple of years.  It's a beautiful, hard working board.  It's not only the right size to build a mise en place for a home cook, but big enough to "plate" two plates.  Boardsmith's current price for one like it is $234.35.   Given the quality and beauty I think it's worth it, but it's a lot of money no matter how you look at it.

 

Buying boards as expensive (or even more expensive) as ours may or may not make sense for you.  If you have good knives and care for them appropriately, end grain hardwood is your best choice, and edge grain hardwood is your only other good choice.  Bamboo (which is grass, not wood) and composite will blunt your knives quickly, while cutting on a rubber (like SaniTuff) board feels weird.  I'm not saying "don't do it."  There's no moral hierarchy involved.  Bamboo for instance is the right choice for many people. 

 

Plastic is never the right choice.  It will chip your knives, look ugly as soon as it scars (which is immediate).  About those scars... Whether on plastic or wood, bacteria love them and refer to them as "spas."  

 

There are good end and edge grain boards at all sorts of prices, but many of the less expensive boards will warp and/or crack very quickly.  And bear in mind as well that there's a certain amount of luck involved.  Even well-maintained, very expensive, uber name brand boards can crack or split relatively quickly.

I like a bargain as well as anyone else, but think that it's worth buying a board from a well-regarded maker and from someone who won't abandon you if there's a problem down the road. 

 

As far as I'm concerned, our Boardsmith and Boos boards were worth their money, but that doesn't mean you should go out and spend a similar amount if you don't share my ridiculous priorities.  You can get a perfectly good, 12" x 18" or 15" x 20", edge-grain, maple board for around $50.  Figure it will last around two or three years. 

 

Hope this helps,

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 3/29/13 at 10:32am
post #50 of 55
Definitely wooden chopping boards. I've been using wood cuttingboards for several years now. I like bamboo and end grain the best.
Once you use a wooden board, its tough to go back to plastic.
post #51 of 55
I use wood as a first choice, but sani-ton boards mostly in commercial. I cut meat last, if possible (after any other non-meat prep); or a different board for meats. It isn't the risk of chicken on wood that kills people. It is chicken, fast wipe, raw garnish sequence that kills people - regardless of board type. Segregate if possible, or sanitize between/after meats; try to do meats last, or at least after any raw preps. If I'm cooking onions with meat, I will cut right after meat on same board if I know they're cooking anyway - but just use common sense in sequencing, segregation, and sanitation.

And yes properly maintained wood is more antibiotic than anything else.
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post #52 of 55

End grain hardwood is my board of choice. 

post #53 of 55

The choice of what type of cutting board is all about how convenient you want the use of your tool.  Wood takes care of your knives.  Knives are just as an important tool as is your cutting board you choose.  Plastic is convenient.  After use, put it in the dishwasher and voila!  All clean.  Wood brings a bit of style to your kitchen, definitely friendlier to your knives.  A bit of work to clean, but I don't consider washing it with soap and water a hassle.  Besides, wood is a natural fighter of bacteria.  Look it up!

 

http://faculty.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/faculty/docliver/Research/cuttingboard.htm

post #54 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by gungaSim View Post

plastic or wood, and when is the wood one to dirty to use?



I think wood cutting boards are great for your knife. The knife seems to stay sharp longer when using wood cutting board but the plastic cutting boards are easier to clean in my opinion.

post #55 of 55
Quote:

Originally Posted by maccuttingboard View Post

Besides, wood is a natural fighter of bacteria.  Look it up!

 

http://faculty.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/faculty/docliver/Research/cuttingboard.htm

I'm going to argue it again. This is completely immaterial. It's not anti-bacterial enough to matter. If you're not washing your board properly, you're going to get sick. 

 

http://www.vermontbutcherblock.com/blogs/news/6028502-wood-vs-plastic  The link is a reprint by permission from Cooks illustrated with their testing of this claim. The original article is behind a pay-wall at cooksillustrated.com or in their magazine in print of course. 

 

Some other ideas on cutting boards:

 

 

I'm a fan of the plastic boards with the ease of washing and the lack of persistence of odors. Even after washing well with hot soapy water, a wooden cuttingboard holds on to flavors, garlic and onion especially. Granted, this is more prone in a board that's seen some use and has wear marks, but still.  I've also had some transfer of flavors on plastic boards that are worn and just hand washed. But a trip through the dishwasher has never failed to remove all flavors from the board. And I just can't do that with wood. 

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