A bamboo cutting board is made from strips of bamboo lengths glued together. The lengths can be cut vertical strips, or flattened, split bamboo. These bonded together strips can be kiln hardened, cut and sanded into shape. Cutting boards come in a choice of three grains; flat, side and end. Flat grain shows the width of a flattened length, with the nodes clearly visible. It’s a very attractive grain, but the softest of them. The next hardest grain is the side grain which is the lengths glued together on their broad side with thin edge showing. The nodes are not readily discernible, and is not as visually pleasing. The last grain, which is the end grain is the hardest of them all. The lengths are glued together and cut horizontally so the ends of the pieces of bamboo are visible. The nodes are not visible, but this orientation shows rather attractive speckling. Natural bamboo is a blond color, and doesn’t take to stains or dyes very readily. However it can be steamed in a process called carbonization which darkens the sugars making the bamboo a rich caramel color. Carbonization softens bamboo and makes it more susceptible to cuts.
Bamboo must be seasoned and may be treated after havesting to make it last longer. Bamboo needs strong glue for bonding and can contain formaldehyde with various levels of VOCs. It’s best to check with the manufacturer/supplier which chemical/glues are used. If this information isn’t given readily, it’s safest to go with a company that supplies all this information.
Bamboo cutting boards are more expensive than other kinds, with the flat grain the cheapest and the end grain the most expensive. I’ve found the price comparable and even cheaper to high end wooden boards. As usual you get what you pay for and the more environmentally aware boards will cost more.
Bamboo Cutting Board
- Made from a sustainable source
- Bacteria resistant
- Does not scar easily
- Gentle on knives
- Looks attractive
- Easy to clean
- They last a long time
- Can be expensive
- Can contain harmful chemicals
- Not normally dishwasher safe
To care for a bamboo cutting board it must be seasoned with oil before use and at regular monthly intervals. The oil used can be mineral, speciality oils or even olive oil. Oil is rubbed onto the board then wiped off. Cleaning is easy. Rinse it in hot water if it’s not overly stained or wipe/scrub with soapy water depending on how soiled it is. Rinse in hot water and dry with clean tea towel. Leave to completely air dry before putting it away. Never soak, wax or wash in the dishwasher. Some brands have a special coating whereby you can put them in the dishwasher, but make sure it specifically says so. They’re so easy to clean that a dishwasher is not necessary.
I bought a set of three different sized cutting boards and I am very pleased with the performance. They look nice and are a pleasure to use. They don’t retain smells or stains. The biggest bonus is the total simplicity of cleaning. They never sit on the bench dirty, waiting to be washed, but a quick wipe and a rinse and they’re clean. I also have a cutting board ready to use at all times which makes me more organized in the kitchen.
My Bamboo Cutting Board
To see a list of other bamboo items I’ve talked about, click here: Quick Guide.