There are thousands of tree in the world, of which hundreds of them are useful for extracting wood. So why are only a few woods considered the best to use in the kitchen? Maple, cherry, bamboo, walnut or olive are usually the most common. What makes them so special? The answer goes beyond the quality or hardness of the wood and includes several factors. Today we talk about an everyday tool: the cutting board.
The best woods for kitchen
The kitchen is an intensive work space. So the best kitchen woods should be hard and with a compact grain. In general, these have a higher density, so they are also more durable and water resistant.
Even so, it is not so simple. The scratches or cuts of a knife can open veins in the wood, allowing the entrance of water or bacteria. Therefore, a strategy that is usually used is to make blocks of softwoods.
If you like noble woods, like oak, you should know that they are not always the best ones. As we have seen, it is very important that the pore is small and the grain very fine. In the case of oak, for example, we are faced with a hard but very porous wood. At a microscopic level, these pores accumulate water, which generates bacteria in a short time. Therefore, is advised wood as maple, cherry or walnut, with a finer grain once polished the surface.
The toxicity of wood
Another important point is toxicity. For the wood worker, it means being exposed to dust and direct contact. If the wood contains dangerous traces, they can generate irritation, allergies or even poisoning. The end user is also not safe from it because the wood will be in contact with food. The oils and resins can be filtered, something that we must know if the table that we are going to buy is made with rare or exotic woods.
Clear example of this is the teak, as we saw an earlier post, or the pink stick. Despite being very hard woods, considered noble, they present toxic agents that provoke reaction in some people.
In the case of recovered or reused wood, toxicity may also appear. Most of this type of material comes from fences, warehouses or factories. Although it looks clean, this wood may have been exposed to hazardous chemicals or free toxins. Therefore, they are not a material suitable for food contact.
Although environmental protection regulations ensure sustainable exploitation, this is not always the case. Sometimes it is manufactured in third world countries, where is cheap and legislation is very scarce. Therefore, it is important that you are informed of the type of wood it is, its origin and how it has been made. Remember that you will use it almost daily and you will be in contact with the food.
In summary, all these factors make the most used kitchen woods are walnut, maple, cherry or bamboo. In the Mediterranean area we can also add the olive tree, a wood with excellent properties and beauty. They may be more expensive materials, but our health and our daily life will thank you.
Currently there are very inspiring projects that produce cutting boards and butcher blocks at a good price and with certificates of sustainable or renewable suppliers. In Spain you will find a multitude of craftman, with a long tradition in the elaboration of cutting boards for kitchen. One of our favorites is Yevea, which also integrates the exploitation of olive trees in a responsible manner. Other examples are CuttingBoard.com or the original DŁUTO I STRUG.
And what kitchen cutting board do you prefer?