There are few tools used more in the kitchen than your chopping board. It can be a breeding ground for germs, particularly as remnants of food seep into cracks and can latch on long after a simple clean.
Wooden or Plastic Chopping Board: Which Is Best?
Scientifically, the jury is out. Some research suggests that heavily scored wooden boards can be more of a problem than plastic ones, which would make sense considering how hard to can be to clean between microscopic grooves left by a knife. But, contrary to that study, another found that used knife-scarred wooden cutting boards harboured no more bacteria than new boards, while knife-scarred plastic boards were "impossible to clean and disinfect manually."
What we can take from this is that there are pros and cons for both.
Wooden Chopping Boards
Pros: They have natural anti-bacterial properties and can last a really long time with proper maintenance.
Cons: It’s a porus substance, so bacteria can get drawn down into the wood. However research has suggested that this drawn-down bacteria can die off quickly.
TOP TIP: Buy a tight-grained hardwood because it’s harder to make deep knife cuts.
Plastic Chopping Boards
Pros: Dishwasher friendly, which is easier to clean. They are less expensive and don’t absorb bacteria because they are nonporous.
Cons: Difficult to keep properly disinfected.
TOP TIP: Look for a plastic that is BPA free.
So, what it comes down to is that both boards have a potential to be equally germy, but there’s no need to be concerned if you make proper effort to clean them appropriately.
Chopping Board Cleaning and Storing Tips
- Raw meat, poultry or seafood is your biggest worry. One way to stop cross contamination of food is to have two boards – one for raw protein and one for other foods. Different colours help you remember which board is which.
- Regardless, clean in hot soapy water immediately after chopping up protein and then rinse off with warm water. Don’t use the board for other chopping until this is done.
- Commercial kitchens are known to give special weekly attention to their wooden chopping boards using a little lemon and salt. Scrub in a hefty sprinkle of salt using a half cut lemon, cut side down. When you’ve given it a good rub, squeeze over the remainder of the lemon and leave to sit for 5 minutes. You’ll be amazed at how this combination will bring up the ground in grime. Rinse well afterwards.
- Vinegar is a great natural sanitizer to use after you’ve rinsed your board. Prepare a solution of one-part vinegar and three parts water in a spray bottle and lightly spray. If that pesky onion smell still hangs on, try rubbing on a baking soda and water paste and then rinse again.
- Make sure you dry your boards properly because bacteria thrive on moisture. It helps to store them in a way that allows air to flow easily around the board, like in a drying rack.