Cleaning cutting boards is an important part of food prep and clean up. Are you doing it right?
How Many Cutting Boards Do You Need?
You need to have at least two cutting boards in your kitchen. One should be used for only raw meats and the other should be used for everything else. Keeping your “raw meat” cutting board separate greatly reduces the risk of cross-contamination and food poisoning in your kitchen. Consider buying two different color cutting boards, or using cutting boards made of two different materials so you don’t accidentally get your “raw meat” cutting board confused with your “everything else” cutting board.
How to Choose a Cutting Board
Cutting boards come in many different options. You can get acrylic (plastic) boards, glass boards, wood boards, or bamboo boards. Each type has a different “feel” under your knife, so you’ll want to experiment a little with the different types.
For cutting messy foods (like tomatoes, watermelon, or raw meats), consider purchasing a cutting board with a groove around the outside edge. This groove will help catch any mess or juice, and keep your counters clean.
Wooden and bamboo cutting boards need a little more attention and care than acrylic or glass boards. Many wooden and bamboo boards are not dishwasher-safe and must be washed by hand. They also will occasionally need to be treated to help retain their natural moisture and keep extra moisture from getting in. Alton Brown shares how he takes care of his wooden cutting boards in this short YouTube video. Alton uses walnut oil to condition his wood boards. Most food safety experts recommend using food grade mineral oil instead.
How To Clean a Cutting Board
Cutting boards should be cleaned immediately after every use. Some people even recommend cleaning your cutting board between steps in your recipe. (For example, if you’re making this yummy salsa, you should wipe your board down after you chop the tomatoes, after you chop the onion, and finally after you chop the bell peppers.)
At the very least, when you are finished with your meal prep you should wash your cutting boards thoroughly. Wash in hot, soapy water and rinse with plenty of clean water. Either pat dry with a clean towel or let air dry. Most cutting boards can be put in the dishwasher. Wood or bamboo cutting boards can absorb water in the dishwasher and may split or crack. Some newer wooden cutting boards or bamboo cutting boards may be dishwasher-safe. Always check the manufacturer’s recommendation before using the dishwasher.
How to Sanitize a Cutting Board
After using a cutting board for raw meat, it should be sanitized. Your “everything else” cutting boards should also be sanitized occasionally.
Start by washing the cutting board in hot soapy water then rinsing well. To sanitize, you’ll need a dilute bleach solution – just 1 Tablespoon of unscented chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water will do the trick. After your cutting board has been washed, pour the bleach solution over the surface. Cover the entire surface of the cutting board with the bleach solution, and let sit up to 5 minutes. Then simply rinse with clean water and dry.
Here’s a trick – don’t make up an entire gallon of bleach solution at once… who has the space to store that? Instead, fill a quart mason jar with water, and add 1 teaspoon of unscented chlorine bleach. Store this under your sink (behind childproof locks, if you need them). Now when you need to sanitize a cutting board, you’re ready to go!
How Long to Keep a Cutting Board
Cutting boards won’t last forever, although a good quality one should last a number of years. Over time, knife use will result in scars on the surface of your cutting boards. These scars and scratches can hold bacteria, and can be very difficult to clean. When your cutting boards are overly worn, or if they have scratches that are hard to clean, it’s time to toss them and get new ones.
By the way… have you ever heard of the 5 second rule? Is it really okay to pick up something off the floor and toss it back on your cutting board (or eat it) if you can do it in less than 5 seconds? Find out in this article on AgriCultured!
What is your favorite kind of cutting board? Share with us here!