Butcher blocks and cutting boards may have two types of cutting surfaces – edge grain and end grain. If you are wondering what they are, here’s the information for you of the difference between them and why end grain cutting boards may be a better choice.
Edge-grain Cutting Boards
An edge-grain cutting board has a surface that looks similar to the side of a 2 x 4. They are made from strips of hardwood like cherry or maple by arranging them side-by-side and grafting them together. Therefore, the cutting surface of such a board comprises of only the edges of each wooden strip.
By choosing an edge-grain cutting board you can see the beautiful cherry or maple figure on the cutting surface. However, they have a downside that in the long run, cuts and scratches are more prominently seen on their surface than that on end-grain cutting boards.
However, both these types of cutting boards are sanitary and durable and just need hand-washing and drying after each use and regular oiling.
End-grain Cutting Boards
The name of these boards is so because their surface looks like the end of a 2 x 4. This type of board consists of several short pieces of hardwood which are arranged vertically and grafted together, beside each other. Thus, the ends of all these pieces are formed into the cutting surface.
An end-grain cutting board is beneficial because it looks attractive and is easy on your knives. Its construction generates a unique-looking checkerboard pattern. Their cutting surface is also of a very fibrous nature; hence a knife’s edge can sink into the fibers of the wood. This board doesn’t even show scratches easily.
Advantages of End-grain Cutting Board
Besides the above-mentioned benefits, end-grain boards have quite a few more benefits. They last much longer. As mentioned above, while cutting, the knife’s edge goes between the fibers which are not severed. End-grain cutting boards are far easier to construct and much less expensive.
Is Wood Indeed More Sanitary?
Yes, wood is sanitary. The reason behind this is that the moisture on the surface of wooden boards is wicked inside the interior taking bacteria in with it. Since the moisture wicks inside, the bacteria die because of absence of moisture.
What Oil Should be Used to Maintain an End-grain Cutting Board?
An end-grain cutting board should be oiled regularly preferably with straight mineral oil. Heat the oil and apply it to the cutting surface regularly to facilitate water repellency. But keep in mind to oil all the surfaces every now and then, and not only the top.
Which Oil Shouldn’t be Used?
You should avoid any organic oil, nut oil, olive oil and the like to oil the end-grain cutting board. All these oils contain natural fats and so, will turn rancid over time. Nut oils can even cause an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to nuts. You should also avoid Tung oil because it takes a long time to dry and may become an ugly mess unless you add a chemical heavy metal dryer.
How to Sanitize the Board
Easy ways to sanitizing an end-grain cutting board is to wash with warm water and a good dishwashing detergent. Wet the surface, apply detergent and rinse thoroughly. However, remember not to let hot water run over the surface for a long time. A mixture of 1 quart of water and 1 tablespoon of Clorox is enough to sanitize. Spray this, let it settle and then rinse. A 1:1 mixture of water and vinegar is also useful with same method. Or you can also keep the surface overnight coated with salt which will absorb moisture and kill bacteria.
All in all, for all your rough-and-tough kitchen tasks and easy maintenance and sanitation, an end-grain cutting board is your best bet. Have one and enjoy cooking.