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Cutting Boards: Bamboo vs Plastic


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#1 Shel_B

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 03:35 PM

I'd like to replace the old plastic cutting board that lives in my GF's kitchen, and I was thinking of getting a bamboo board.  What are the pros and cons, benefits and drawbacks, of bamboo vs plastic?  Thanks!

 

...Shel


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#2 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 04:24 PM

Bamboo, all the way.  I have several bamboo boards, and they are my hands-down favourites.

Pros: much easier to keep clean/sterile than plastic, looks a whole lot better, heavier and therefore less prone to go sliding off the countertop while chopping.  Can be refinished with a sander and a bit of oil.  Does not swell or warp when wet.  Heat resistant.  Does not mold.  Does not seem to accumulate smells/flavours - I can chop onions on bamboo, give it a good wipe, and then chop fruit, and no onion flavour will transfer.

Cons: bamboo fibre is wicked hard on knife edges.  If you've got a good steel, no worries.  Otherwise your knives will go dull a bit faster on bamboo than any other board.

 

As for plastic,

Pros: lightweight, cheap, disposable.  Kind to knife edges.  Can be soaked in bleach with few ill effects.

Cons: much harder to keep clean/sterile unless you're comitted to soaking it in bleach, accumulates knife marks quickly, stains easily, ends up looking really ugly.  Melts if you accidentally hit a hot pan with it or (and I found this out the hard way) are working too close to a hot oven.  Can accumulate mildew in moist climates.  Some boards are so light that they can go sliding off the countertop while chopping (this happens to me more often than I'd like to admit, so it bears mention).  Holds on to smells/flavours - I have a dedicated plastic board for garlic, because I simply can't get that smell out of it, not even with repeated bleachings.


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#3 patrickamory

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 04:57 PM

I use bamboo! Echo all of Panaderia Canadiense's comments.

 

(And yes, I find myself using my knife steel a lot.)



#4 scubadoo97

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 05:02 PM

Why not a inexpensive maple board?

#5 Shel_B

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 06:49 PM

Why not a inexpensive maple board?

 

 

 

Size, weight, ease of maintenance, space requirements.  Toots needs inexpensive, no-brainer stuff in her kitchen.

 

 

 

 

.... Shel


Edited by Shel_B, 18 February 2013 - 06:49 PM.

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.... Shel


#6 Dave the Cook

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 06:51 PM

Why not a inexpensive maple board?

 

 

 

Size, weight, ease of maintenance, space requirements.  Toots needs inexpensive, no-brainer stuff in her kitchen.

 

 

 

 

.... Shel

 

Then you should be looking at Epicurean boards. Similar in performance to bamboo, but thinner and dishwasher-safe.

 

Here's one of them.


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#7 pbear

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 09:11 PM

I second the suggestion of Epicurean boards.  Read Products makes a similar line (indeed, it's been around longer).  Both are woodfiber laminates, basically sawdust bound with plastic.  They're sturdy, light and relatively gentle on knives, yet easy to clean.  Woodfiber laminates have been my "go to" boards for over ten years now.



#8 rotuts

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 05:18 AM

your friend might need this with the above boards:

 

http://www.amazon.co...r/dp/B000IAZD9A

 

easy to use well worth it.  always amazed at how many people enjoy cooking yet have pathetically dull knives!



#9 Syzygies

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 05:45 AM

I second the suggestion of Epicurean boards.

I want to love my Epicurian boards. However, with good Japanese knives kept sharp on water stones (who cuts the barber? kept flat on a diamond stone), if I mince garlic on my black Epicurian board I see bits of black in with the garlic.

My favorite setup is a working butcher block counter, that one washes and scrapes down with a bench knife after each meal. One cooks better with enough room, like so many activities. I only use portable boards for individual messy steps I want to contain. The cleanup cost here pays for itself, there isn't the blizzard of prep bowls if the ingredients are laid out directly on the counter. In my tightest kitchen, I scrape the wash and rinse water directly into an open, ready to run dishwasher, saving the mild effort of catching it in a retired metal dog dish. (Ah, Dolly. She so loved cooking time.)
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#10 Shel_B

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 06:01 AM

I second the suggestion of Epicurean boards.

I want to love my Epicurian boards. However, with good Japanese knives kept sharp on water stones (who cuts the barber? kept flat on a diamond stone), if I mince garlic on my black Epicurian board I see bits of black in with the garlic.

My favorite setup is a working butcher block counter ...

 

Totally irrelevant for Toots ... her knives are junk, she never sharpens them or uses the steel, tosses them into the sink, soaks 'em with other items, etc.  However, other reviewers have also mentioned the black bits ... best not to even consider a black board, which, for Toots, is a no-brainer: she hates anything black.


.... Shel


#11 rotuts

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 06:03 AM

Soooooooooo   wood colored bits are OK?

 

bamboo.



#12 rotuts

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 06:06 AM

like this:

 

 

http://www.amazon.co...o cutting board

 
 
or this   ( I have this one  it has little rubber feet on it if Im not mistaken .. mine does   keeps it from wandering off  )
 


#13 Shel_B

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 08:41 AM

Soooooooooo   wood colored bits are OK?

 

bamboo.

I've not read anything about the lighter-colored board coming apart.  In any case, I didn't ask about this type of board nor do I know enough about them to want one ...


.... Shel


#14 Porthos

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 11:01 AM

I am all about plastic boards.  My dishwasher has a sanitize cycle but I don't normally use it.  For me being able to put my cutting boards in the dishwasher is very important.  I now buy the ones with raised rubber edges to help keep them from skittering about. I just got rid of my bamboo board because I never used it.  Having to specially hand-clean something in not what I'm about.

 

The sanitation objections I here about plastic are interesting in light of all of the NSF-certified boards available in restaurant supply stores. I use plastic boards in the 2 volunteer kitchens I provide leadership for. We use a standard 3-sink wash-rinse-sanitize system and after doing this many years I have never had anyone we feed (this is tied into 2 west-coast Renaissance Faire where we feed some of the performers) come back and let me know they think our food made them sick. And believe me they would!


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#15 rotuts

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 11:06 AM

I also use Oxo plastic boards

 

http://www.amazon.co...=cutting boards

 

various sizes   very nice  no skid.  if you friend has a dishwasher, based on the knife use  Id go with these.



#16 BKYLN

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 12:10 PM

plastic?  no no no.

 

from your description I think you want a composite rubber board. 

 

http://www.amazon.co...words=sani-tuff

 

I have a Sani-Tuff and it is fantastic.  It's also the same board that we've used in each of the Michelin-starred restaurants I've worked at.



#17 Mark Donnelly

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 12:40 PM

Epicurean all the way.  And made in the US to boot.



#18 crinoidgirl

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 01:41 PM

Bamboo, all the way.  I have several bamboo boards, and they are my hands-down favourites.
Pros: much easier to keep clean/sterile than plastic, looks a whole lot better, heavier and therefore less prone to go sliding off the countertop while chopping.  Can be refinished with a sander and a bit of oil.  Does not swell or warp when wet.  Heat resistant.  Does not mold.  Does not seem to accumulate smells/flavours - I can chop onions on bamboo, give it a good wipe, and then chop fruit, and no onion flavour will transfer.
Cons: bamboo fibre is wicked hard on knife edges.  If you've got a good steel, no worries.  Otherwise your knives will go dull a bit faster on bamboo than any other board.
 
As for plastic,
Pros: lightweight, cheap, disposable.  Kind to knife edges.  Can be soaked in bleach with few ill effects.
Cons: much harder to keep clean/sterile unless you're comitted to soaking it in bleach, accumulates knife marks quickly, stains easily, ends up looking really ugly.  Melts if you accidentally hit a hot pan with it or (and I found this out the hard way) are working too close to a hot oven.  Can accumulate mildew in moist climates.  Some boards are so light that they can go sliding off the countertop while chopping (this happens to me more often than I'd like to admit, so it bears mention).  Holds on to smells/flavours - I have a dedicated plastic board for garlic, because I simply can't get that smell out of it, not even with repeated bleachings.

 

I'm also on the bamboo side. I expect to still be using my main board in 20 years.


 

Bonus: bamboo is a very renewable resource.


Edited by crinoidgirl, 19 February 2013 - 01:45 PM.

V

#19 rotuts

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 02:14 PM

well the initial poster is trying to help  ( 58 bonus points to that Poster   :biggrin: ) a person who puts their knives in a the dishwasher and other  (#($Y$_%@#$_&#   :huh: _^}}^W)R(Y#R%_# :blink: R^#R% :wacko: ^) evils


Edited by rotuts, 19 February 2013 - 02:16 PM.


#20 Porthos

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 05:01 PM

I'm evil also. I put ALL of my knives in the dishwasher as well as my cutting boards. I only put 1 knife per section so that they don't hit each other. My 30 year-old 10" chef's knife still takes and keeps a sharp egde (Thanks Edge Pro).


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#21 rotuts

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 05:27 AM

the dirty clean little secret:   EP!   :biggrin:

 

only available to the cognoscenti.  



#22 Porthos

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 10:54 AM

Shel_B, did you make a choice?

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#23 Shel_B

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:26 AM

Yeah ... I'm going to get her a plastic board.  For her needs it's convenient, lightweight, and cleans up well with a little bleach.  All of that means that she'll be happy, which means that I'll be happy.  I have a nice sized end grain board stored at her place, so if I need a bigger board, it's there for me.

 

Thanks to all who've made suggestions.

 

... Shel


.... Shel


#24 billwallace

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 05:40 PM

I've used several bamboo cutting boards. Most of my purchases are from Amazon. I did buy one from a local retailer. The experience has been awesome. This wood cutting boards blog does a good job in explaining pros, cons, etc that you are looking for. I also purchased a plastic cutting board from IKEA - That was such a waste compared to the wooden ones. I've used Vinegar to clean my wooden cutting boards. Works really nice.

 

Hope this helps.


Edited by billwallace, 09 July 2013 - 05:42 PM.


#25 paulraphael

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Posted 07 March 2014 - 09:58 AM

The thing to consider with bamboo boards is that they're a kind of engineered wood product. Which means by volume and by weight there's a LOT of glue. I don't know how you'd ever find out what kind of glue a manufacturer uses, but many of the glues are much harder than the bamboo itself, and also harder than what makes for a knife-friendly surface. There are also ecological issues. Bamboo is a fantasically green renewable resource. But many of the glues used in making the composits are not. You can read discussions about this in regard to bamboo flooring; some studies suggest that air polution from the glues during manufacture is a significant problem.


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#26 Shel_B

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Posted 07 March 2014 - 10:56 AM

Bamboo is a fantasically green renewable resource. But many of the glues used in making the composits are not. You can read discussions about this in regard to bamboo flooring; some studies suggest that air polution from the glues during manufacture is a significant problem.

 

That's very interesting.  Moving away from cutting boards for a moment, but sticking with the glue used for joining pieces of bamboo, I've noticed a number of bamboo utensils, like mixing spoons, salad forks, etc., made with strips of bamboo that have been glued together.  I wonder how safe that glue is and if it's the same type of glue used in flooring and to join together cutting boards.  Certainly something to look into, if one is concerned about health and environmental issues.


.... Shel


#27 dcarch

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Posted 07 March 2014 - 11:37 AM

I don't know if the glue for bamboo kitchen use is food safe. But I don't feel it is of environmental concern.

 

Plywood, particle board, furniture, ------------------ etc. use glue billions and billions times more than the few kitchen tools.

 

Bamboo has to be glued because bamboo plant is a tube, not solid lumber.

 

Bamboo is extremely durable, with tensile strength like steel and does not rot easily. 

 

Bamboo is extremely fast growing, you can actually sit in front of a bamboo plant and see it grow.

 

And bamboo shoots are delicious  :-)

 

dcarch



#28 Norm Matthews

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 09:34 AM

 It has been 30 years since I owned a restaurant and things may have changed since them but the health dept. said a bleach solution was a satisfactory sanitizer.  A friend told me he asked his butcher what he used to clean his cutting board and he said he used the bleach solution with salt as an abrasive. 



#29 patrickamory

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 11:47 AM

I thought that wood and especially bamboo sanitized themselves very well with a mixture of hot water and soap? I don't use plastic or artificial surfaces for cutting meat - my impression is that the bad bugs survive very well on hard surfaces like formica.

 

As for bamboo wearing down knives - this is absolutely true, I have to hone my knife far more frequently when using my bamboo cutting board than my maple end block one. But I do enjoy the lightness and thinness of it.



#30 paulraphael

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Posted 09 March 2014 - 10:12 AM

I thought that wood and especially bamboo sanitized themselves very well with a mixture of hot water and soap? I don't use plastic or artificial surfaces for cutting meat - my impression is that the bad bugs survive very well on hard surfaces like formica.

 

There's been a ton of research on different materials, and while microbes behave slighlty differently on different ones, there's little practical difference. Plastic and rubber can go in the dishwasher; wood can't. Wood and rubber can be sanded smooth; plastic can't. 

 

Nothing sanitizes itself. All of them can be well cleaned in hot soapy water, as long as they don't have deep knifegrooves. Sanitizing is about killing the majority of the microbes that remain after washing (killing all of them would be sterilizing ... you'd have to shrink-wrap the board afterwards, and it wouldn't be sterile anymore once you opened it in the kitchen). 

 

In practice, doing a good job washing is probably enough. Restaurants are required to sanitize. And it's a great idea if you might be making food for anyone who's immune compromised. I do it because it's a useful habit, and because its easy.