September 11, 2019 5 min read
It’s easy to become a knife nerd. Using a ridiculously sharp knife can be an eye-opening experience. The silky glide of a thin, sharp knife through a tomato is downright cathartic. But how do you keep your knife sharp? Before you check out our pal Naoto’s videoon how to sharpen and hone your knives, there’s amuch more simple solution to helping your blade stay sharp; use a kickass cutting board!
A well made cutting board is clutch. Every knife nerd or foodie knows this. Butwhy? There’s a lot more to it than having one for aesthetic purposes (although some of the nicest ones do look amazing). At Knifewear, we’re big fans of wooden end grain boards. Let’s take a look at why these guys are so amazing.
This is a big one. A lot of commercial cutting boards are really hard,too hard. Composite woods, side grain wood, laminated wood, bamboo, and (ugh) glass cutting boards arereally rough on the edge of your knife. Every time you slice into something that is around the same hardness as your knife, your knife gets dull. It’s a simple fact. Wood cut across the grain—like you would a delicious roast—doesn’t drag across your knife the way other materials do. Even harder woods like walnut make excellent cutting boards as long as they’re cut across the grain. Those grains allow for a little give, so the edge of your knife cuts into it rather than scraping it along the surface. Presto-change-o, you knife stays more sharp-o!
They’re Easy to Clean, and More Sanitary
This one mayseemcounter intuitive, but believe us, it’s 100% true. As long as you take good care of your end grain board, it actually repels moisture and bacterial growth. It’s very important to keep your board moisturized. We recommend Clapham’s bee’s wax and mineral oil compound, but any food grade non-perishable mineral oil will do. (Don’t use olive oil or other cooking oil, it will go sour and get smelly.) Simply apply a bit of wax once a week for the first month, then once a month after that. More often if you’re washing your board a ton. Let it sink into the board overnight each time, and buff it dry with a towel in the morning. This keeps the board saturated with wax, thus it’s less likely to absorb any of the moisture from your food. It’s also not a bad idea to sanitize your board after doing nasty stuff like chicken and fish. I use a solution of a 1:1 ratio water to vinegar. Spritz it on, have a beer, wipe it off. Then reward yourself with another beer.
Plastic boards, while not too harsh on the edge of your knife, are really lacking in the cleanliness department. The gashes you cut into your plastic board don’t close up the same way and act as bacterial hotbeds! Have you ever chopped parsley on a plastic cutting board? That big ol’ green stain is damn near impossible to scrub out. This actually happens with everything you’re cutting, you just can’t see it as clearly. GROSS GROSS GROSS. They’re built with price point in mind over quality, and aren’t meant to last forever. Despite that, you can expect them to sit in a landfill for centuries after you’re done with them. What an ugly thought.
“If you buy the right tool once, take care of it. You’ll never need to buy it again.” This is my personal shopping credo! The fine folks atLarchwood Enterprises based out of Cape Breton seem pretty confident that the cutting boards they produce should last around 150 years. Granted, I have not yet had the time to truly put this claim to the test, but they seem to know their stuff. Head on over to your local butcher shop and ask them - there’s a reason professional meat cutters love these boards! I’ve personally had the same cutting board in my kitchen for over four years, and it still looks just like the ones we have wrapped up here in the shop. Just make sure you’re showing them the care they deserve - keep them waxed, clean them after each use with soapy water and a scrubby. Keep them away from flames (duh), and don’t put hot stuff on top of them. Pretty easy, right?
Yes, yes, I know. I said they’re not just for looks, but that doesn’t mean that that they should be a bunch of ugg-os. True story - at Larchwood Enterprises, there is one person in the workshop assigned to examining the grain of all the squares they cut, then lining them up so that the boards have a pleasing wood grain flow. Tell THAT person that looks aren’t important!
A lot of people ask me how you should store these boards. I simply leave mine on the countertop at all times. It’s one of the prettiest things in my house, why would I want to hide it away? Also, they’re all fitted with little rubber feet so you don’t need to worry about them scratching up your countertop or sliding around with use. Smart!
Larchwood Enterprises knows what’s up. Larch is both native to the region where the boards are produced, and it is a prolific species of tree. Every step of the process is done on site - they literally start with logs, and finish with cutting boards. This is a big part of the reason why the price point is so good. Not only do they have a super-efficient workshop, but the raw product they work with is locally grown, and readily available. This also helps keep their carbon footprint low.
It’s a good idea to avoid exotic wood cutting boards for reasons other than sustainability. Some woods like teak, a popular and gorgeous wood, has silicates naturally occurring in the grain which can dull knives like mad. Spalted woods (woods that are coloured naturally through fungal growth) are not recommended, and many types of cedar give off a chemical that wards off insects which can be toxic to humans.
So there you go! If you love to cook, love your knives, love food, love products built to last, and love the environment, end grain wooden boards are easily the best way to go. You can learn more about the amazing products that Larchwood Enterprises makes herehttps://www.larchwoodcanada.com. Give them a click! Once you’ve decided that a Larchwood board is the answer, you can check out our full selection.
Owen is another ex-chef among our ranks. he has been Chef-ing in Edmonton for around 12 years but gave it up to be a human being again! An avid music lover, he plays guitar, loves Radiohead, and has probably been to about 500 concerts. Oh, and he can most definitely beat you in a game of Street Fighter. come chat with him about football, and steel!
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