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Shel_B

Cutting Boards: Bamboo vs Plastic

30 posts in this topic

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


 ... Shel

"... ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself "

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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.


Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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

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

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Why not a inexpensive maple board?

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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 (log)
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 ... Shel

"... ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself "

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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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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.

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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.)


Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"

Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."

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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

"... ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself "

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Soooooooooo wood colored bits are OK?

bamboo.

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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

"... ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself "

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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!


Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

 

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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 (log)

V

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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 (log)

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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).


Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

 

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the dirty clean little secret: EP! :biggrin:

only available to the cognoscenti.

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Shel_B, did you make a choice?


Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

 

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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

"... ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself "

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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 (log)

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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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