Every chef needs a great cutting board. It’s not something that amateur cooks think about, but a fantastic, durable cutting board is the cornerstone of all prep work. And without prep work, we can’t have all those delicious, fragrant meals that make our mouths water.
So, it’s no wonder that everyone passionate about cooking (professionally or in a cook-at-home amateur way) is on the lookout for the perfect cutting board. But, as many of us quickly find out, finding the perfect one isn’t an easy task.
Kitchen cutting boards come in various widths and sizes but we usually differentiate them by the material they are made of. Cutting boards can be made of wood, plastic, glass, marble, silicone, or granite. More recently, bamboo cutting boards are becoming more popular as people discover their benefits.
With everyone raging about bamboo lately, we asked ourselves if bamboo cutting boards are the answer to every chef’s favorite question, and went to investigate.
What Makes Bamboo Cutting Boards so Great?
When compared to other cutting boards, bamboo comes up on top in many categories. Bamboo cutting boards are versatile and have several advantages over their glass, wood, or plastic peers:
1. They Look Amazing
Perhaps not the essential advantage of bamboo cutting boards, their aesthetically pleasing look is still worth mentioning. Bamboo is naturally light, and it has a uniformed, fine grain. The sleek and smooth surface stays that way for a long time, due to the durability of bamboo.
A bamboo board gives a clean and elegant look to your kitchen and blends nicely with any kitchen décor. You can use it on your dining table as a serving board.
Technically a grass, bamboo is also water-resistant. That means that the cutting board won’t have water spots and food stains.
2. They Are Durable
Bamboo is 15–19% denser than wood. That means that, on average, your knives will make 15–19% fewer ridges and marks on the cutting board. It will stay smooth longer than most wood cutting boards and won’t crack or warp as quickly as some other boards.
Bamboo can take a beating, which is something that you need in a cutting board. Given that it’s harder and more durable than wood, and yet lighter, it serves as an almost perfect material for cutting boards.
3. They Are Hygenic
Fewer ridges and marks also mean fewer bacteria. Bacteria often find their way into our cutting boards and can contaminate our food if we don’t deal with them properly. Plastic boards are easily damaged by cutting, which gives microbes their best chance to grow. With a bamboo cutting board, we don’t have to worry as much because, aside from its durability, bamboo also offers specific antibacterial properties.
Bamboo is naturally antibacterial, which means that the cutting board is already doing some of the cleaning for you. The antimicrobial properties within the bamboo will kill some bacteria, thus making your job much easier.
4. They Are Eco-Friendly
Those of us who are trying to be as green as possible will be happy to learn that bamboo is a perfect choice as it’s renewable. It’s a fast-growing grass that quickly and easily replenishes itself.
Unlike marble and hardwood, such as maple or oak, that takes years to grow, bamboo grows quite quickly. What’s more, it’s easy to harvest, which means that it doesn’t require a lot of labor. Talk about an environmentally-friendly product!
5. They Are Easy to Manage
Because bamboo is so lightweight, bamboo cutting boards are easy to manage. When you have a lot going on at your cooking station, you won’t be singing any praises to a marble cutting board that requires at least two hands to be moved.
Because bamboo is durable and hard, the cutting boards don’t have to be as thick as wood or marble ones. So, storing, moving, and washing them isn’t such a chore.
Are Bamboo Cutting Boards Really That Amazing? Are There Any Disadvantages?
Given that there’s no such thing as a perfect material, it’s only logical to assume that bamboo cutting boards have some disadvantages.
1. They Aren’t Knife-Friendly
We already mentioned that bamboo is denser than wood. But that also means it’s harder on the knives. When we’re chopping veggies, the edge of our blades can fold over on a bamboo cutting board. That’s especially true if we don’t have professional, hard steel knives.
What’s more, bamboo is harder than wood, but not as consistent. It’s actually much softer than wood between the nodes. That leads to uneven wear of knives, and it can even shred blade edges. What’s more, bamboo has a high level of silica content. Silica rapidly dulls knife blades, which means that if we’re using a bamboo cutting board, we’ll have to maintain our knives that much more carefully and sharpen them regularly.
2. They Aren’t Dishwasher-Safe
Bamboo is hygienic, but it doesn’t take high heat that well. High heat will make any cutting board crack and warp. Because bamboo cutting boards are quite thin, they probably won’t survive the dishwasher in one piece.
These beauties also can’t double as a hot plate due to the same reason. The high heat from our pots and pans might leave our boards in a horrible condition or, at the very least, warped.
3. They Require Maintenance
Although they do require more attention than simple cleaning, bamboo cutting boards don’t ask for much. We should use mineral oil or beeswax at least once a month to keep the board from cracking. We can also use a special bamboo cutting board oil. Both options are quite affordable (as is the board itself), and the maintenance only takes a few minutes.
Therefore, bamboo falls into the “not needy” category when it comes to preservation and care. Still, they require more maintenance than other boards, such as marble, that only require cleaning.
4. They Might Have Potentially Toxic Adhesive
When the manufacturers make the bamboo cutting boards, they have to bind the bamboo together. Doing that creates the inconsistency we already spoke about. The adhesive that the manufacturers use to bind bamboo together can sometimes be toxic. Therefore, all the hygienic properties of bamboo will go out the window if you don’t check the composition of the adhesive. The cutting boards with formaldehyde-free glues are your best bet.
A Few Parting Words
Having a bamboo cutting board in your kitchen can only be a good thing, especially if you chop a lot of veggies. If you take good care of your bamboo cutting board and maintain it properly, it can last you a few decades without many ridges and marks. Not too shabby for such an affordable product, right?