What chopping board to buy

  • By
    Sarah Sysum - Assistant editor - Easy Cook magazine

Gadget guru Sarah Sysum investigates which material comes up trumps when shopping for a chopping board.

Chopping tomatoesIt's hard being a gadget guru. Most conversations I have (even with my mother) eventually come around to a gadget-related question. What food processor should I buy? Are halogen ovens safe? But one question that had me stumped recently was, "Which is a better material for chopping boards: wood, glass or plastic?". Not wanting to ruin my reputation, I investigated.

There is a lot of confusion out there regarding which is best; there are even 'pro-wood' and 'pro-plastic' groups on the internet. Personally I feel it depends on the job, but as they say, "forewarned is forearmed".

Let's start with wood. One of many arguments suggests that wood possesses anti-microbial properties. In reality this means that bacteria is drawn into wood through capillary action (still with me?) Once inside the wood, the bacteria can't reproduce and dies.

Another pro-wood argument concerns an end-grain cutting board's apparent "self-healing" properties; the knife slices between wood fibres (as opposed to cutting into them), leaving no mark. Of course there are plenty of other good points: they don't blunt the cutting edge as quickly as other types of board and, providing you oil them, they stay waterproof.

Chopping corianderNow on to plastic. As many a BBC science programme taught me, plastic is non-porous, meaning bacteria can be washed off without soaking into the board (though they can collect within ridges and rough spots created by knife wear). Many are now dishwasher-safe too. But perhaps the biggest argument is that as plastic is a relatively inexpensive material, most people can afford to buy separate boards for meat and vegetables, thus preventing cross-contamination.

Whilst they are pretty, stay away from glass boards. They dull knives and have no grip when chopping - thats why they're called protectors and not chopping boards, people.

So what do I use? Well, I have two boards, one for raw and one for cooked food. I love the stability wood gives when preparing meat and I find plastic great for little jobs such as chopping onions when I don't want smells to linger. However, whatever camp you fall into, it's worth remembering to disinfect your board regularly and chuck out any that have become excessively worn.

So you see science really isn't the argument here, making sure you do the washing up is.

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Lib1985's picture


It is also important to choose a high density chopping board when buying plastic. The thin low density bend in the dishwasher and are less hygienic.

Simon Hart's picture

I use a wooden chopping board, but make sure you get one that has all one solid piece, a little bit more expensive, but if you work out you use it every day for the next thirty years or so, not so bad
Also the ones with one solid piece have no glues and some of the glues have dangerous chemical, I use these Byron Bay chopping boards, they use Camphor Laurel timber (antibacterial) Its beautiful timber and hard wearing, you can check out the info at http://byronbaychoppingboards.com they have some good info on how to choose a good chopping board and maintain it
Happy Cooking

hazytown's picture

Hi ... just thought I'd say this was a really nicely written piece. Who'd a thought an item on chopping boards could make me chuckle. I certainly wasn't bored (phnaagh) Thanks Sarah.