Can I Use My Wood Board for Meat? And Other Cutting Board Conundrums

Sheela Prakash / 04.14.15 Epicurios

Two experts weigh in on which cutting boards to buy, and how to take care of them.

I’ve broken every unwritten cutting board rule there is: I don’t wipe my wood board with mineral oil. I let my boards soak in the sink. I don’t use a separate board for prepping raw meat.

So when I recently decided to replace the board I had used and abused, I vowed to start paying attention to the rules. But a quick Google search about general DOs and DON’Ts left me ridiculously confused. In a state of panic, I reached out to couple experts: author and cleaning advice columnist Jolie Kerr, and Epicurious Food Editor Rhoda Boone.

How Many Cutting Boards Do I Really Need?

Boone and Kerr agree that two boards is enough: “One plastic, one wood,” says Boone. “One big, one small.”

Do I Need A Separate Cutting Board for Meat?

Kerr doesn’t think it’s something to sweat over. “Ideally, if you’re washing them properly, it shouldn’t matter much if you have dedicated meat and vegetable boards,” she says. That said, “if you have the space and the financial resources to have multiple boards, by all means designate one for meat and poultry, another for fish, and one for vegetables.”

Okay, So How Should I Clean My Cutting Board?

“Plastic boards can go right in the dishwasher, that will be the best bet for getting them clean,” says Kerr. “Wooden and bamboo boards should be hand washed in hot, soapy water and dried immediately after washing to prevent water from causing warping. If the board is retaining a smell even after washing, try scrubbing it with half a lemon to eliminate odors.”



Photo by Charles Masters, Food Styling by Suzanne Lenzer

Plastic, wood, or bamboo?

“I usually use plastic for raw meat, but for any other cutting, my favorite board material is wood,” says Epicurious Food Editor Rhoda Boone. “I love my Boos Block, which has grooves to catch any unruly juice” What about bamboo? Rhoda sticks with wood and Kerr concurs: “I prefer wood to bamboo—bamboo boards are more likely than wood to split or warp, and can be harder on knives.”

What About Those Fancy Glass Cutting Boards?

Avoid them. They may look nice, and they’re definitely easy to clean, but because their surface is completely hard, “they can dull your knives,” says Boone. Not to mention the fact that, even though they’re made from tempered glass, there’s still the chance that they could break and shatter.


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