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Bamboo Vs. Maple Cutting Board: Pros & Cons Of Each

Bamboo Vs. Maple Cutting Board: Pros & Cons Of Each

Cutting boards are an essential element in any kitchen. But have you been wondering what cutting board is best? If you want to know the pros and cons of bamboo and maple cutting boards, read on!

 

Bamboo and maple cutting boards are great options for any chef. Bamboo cutting boards are environmentally friendly, whereas maple cutting boards are not as renewable. Maple cutting boards can be restored and last for years. Yet, a major drawback is that these cutting boards are not dishwasher safe.

 

There are upsides to owning either of these cutting boards, but they both have some disadvantages, too. This post will discuss the best and worst parts of owning and using a bamboo and maple cutting board. It will cover which cutting board is better, the benefits of either cutting board, safety, and simple care instructions.

 

Weighing the Pros & Cons: Which Cutting Board Is Better, Bamboo, Or Maple?

Since every cutting board has pros and cons, you are probably wondering which is better. Bamboo cutting boards are the better choice, but each cutting board has some clear advantages. And depending on what you are using your cutting board for, you may prefer one option over the other.

 

The following chart highlights that there are many advantages and disadvantages to the bamboo and maple cutting board options:

 

Bamboo Cutting Board

Maple Cutting Board

Pros

  • Less porous than maple cutting boards
  • Good for cutting raw meats as it is non-porous
  • Environmentally friendly option
  • Does not absorb water
  • Does not easily crack like other hardwoods
  • Does not scar
  • Uniform grain
  • Harder than maple
  • Good for cutting everything except raw meat
  • Does not scar easily
  • Sometimes made from renewable sources or waste wood, making it somewhat environmentally friendly
  • Easy to sand to remove any scars or scratches, and your cutting board is like new again
  • Beautiful grain makes for great use as a cheeseboard

Cons

  • Not dishwasher safe; most cutting boards are hand wash only
  • Some products are processed with unsafe formaldehyde and glues, which can leech into foods
  • Dulls knives quicker because of hardness
  • Easily stains
  • Can absorb juices from the meat and cause dangerous bacterial growth
  • Not dishwasher safe; hand wash only
  • Can crack if exposed to too much water
  • Requires regular maintenance and care
  • Not as environmentally friendly and renewable as bamboo
  • Lighter toned maple woods easily stained

 

As you can see, the bamboo and maple cutting boards are pretty evenly matched. Yet the bamboo cutting board wins out in being:

  • Renewable
  • Easy to clean
  • Long-lasting

 

Even though these cutting boards are pretty evenly matched in terms of their pros and cons, there are some major differences that you should consider when purchasing a maple or bamboo cutting board.

 

What Makes A Bamboo Cutting Board Different Than A Maple Cutting Board?

Bamboo cutting boards are technically not made of wood but grass, as bamboo is a type of grass. This is one major difference between bamboo and maple cutting boards. But bamboo has some other perks that are worth mentioning, too.

 

Cutting Board Usability Considerations

When you are buying your cutting board, you want to consider a few different factors:

  • Shape – Keep overall shape in mind when determining what you will use the cutting board for most often; for example, some are designed to pour off juices easily. Most maple and bamboo cutting boards come in rectangular shapes. You may find some specially designed shapes, especially if you get a custom made cutting board.
  • Thickness – Thicker cutting boards allow for more intense knife work; if you want a cutting board for just chopping or presentation, you can comfortably opt for a thinner cutting board. Maple cutting boards tend to be thicker than bamboo cutting boards.
  • Size – 15 to 20 inches is a great, common size; small cutting boards are less versatile and harder to use than larger cutting boards. Both maple and bamboo cutting boards come in multiple size options.
  • Sanitization – One question to ask is: how easy is it to clean and keep sanitized so your food stays safe? Maple and bamboo cutting boards are easy to keep clean and safe.
  • Cost – Bamboo is more often less expensive than maple. However, some of the more luxurious bamboo options can be just as expensive as a maple cutting board. You may even opt for a custom made maple cutting board, which will be much more expensive.
  • Durability – Hardwoods usually can last a long time and do not show the same wear as a plastic cutting board. Both maple and bamboo are very durable. Although, many will argue bamboo is more durable because it is harder and not as porous as maple.
  • Usability – Sometimes, you may want to look for a specific feature, like non-slip edges that will keep your cutting board from sliding across the counter. You can find many maple or bamboo cutting boards with grooves to catch juices or handles to move your board around the kitchen easily.

 

No matter which cutting board you choose to buy, bamboo and maple are both good options, but each offers its own bonuses.

 

Does Grain Matter When Buying Your Cutting Board?

You also want to consider the grain of your cutting board, as there are a few different options:

  • Face grain – Least expensive option; easily scratches; long planks are glued together for a horizontal grain.
  • Edge grain – Good quality and price; similar to face grain, but uses thicker planks to achieve the same horizontal grain look; thinner and light option
  • End grain – Most expensive and professional looking cutting board option; checkerboard pattern creates a self-healing surface; reduces scratches and gentle on knives; lots of glue seams and requires increased maintenance

 

Both maple and bamboo cutting boards can be found in these grains. The main things to keep in mind when choosing a grain for your cutting board are cost and aesthetics. There is a cutting board out there for every budget and any kitchen.

 

Both of these cutting board options have their pros and cons. Let us take a closer look at both cutting boards individually and see how they stack up against each other in more detail.

 

When Is A Bamboo Cutting Board the Choice for You?

Buying and using a bamboo cutting board has many advantages for anyone, from the amateur cook to experienced chefs. The pros of a bamboo cutting board can easily make it the best choice for you.

 

If you want a lightweight, sustainable cutting board that will last for years, a bamboo cutting board is the right option for you. Also, if you plan on cutting raw meat often, this is the cutting board for you, as the juices will not be absorbed into the board. This allows you to avoid some serious health concerns.

 

The Advantages of A Bamboo Cutting Board

A bamboo cutting board has many pros. Some of the best cutting boards are made from bamboo. These cutting boards are especially popular with environmentalists because bamboo is a renewable and sustainable grass that thrives without pesticides and other harsh chemicals.

 

A bamboo cutting board is a choice for you if you are looking for a cutting board that is:

  • Sustainable
  • Biodegradable
  • Cracking is unlikely
  • Low porosity
  • Long-life for a cutting board
  • Extends life of knives
  • Stylish and beautiful

     

    Bamboo cutting boards are also a low maintenance cutting board, which we will discuss more in the next section!

     

    How Easy Is It To Clean A Bamboo Cutting Board?

    It is super easy to clean a bamboo cutting board. Basically, there are only three steps to follow when cleaning your bamboo cutting board. With this in mind, it is just another pro as to why bamboo cutting boards are superior to maple cutting boards.

     

    The following three steps are a quick guide on how to clean your bamboo cutting board:

    1. Rinse with hot water.
    2. Wash with mild soap or a dilution of bleach and soap.
    3. Dry upright to avoid water pooling on the surface

     

    When washing a bamboo cutting board or any other wood cutting board, the one thing to remember is never to soak these cutting boards. A bamboo cutting board does not need to be submerged in hot water and soap to be cleaned. You only need to worry about cleaning the outer surface of the cutting board.

     

    But a bamboo cutting board should be oiled and waxed regularly. See the section on how to oil your cutting board later on for more information.

     

    How to Avoid A Toxic Bamboo Cutting Board

    A major drawback of a bamboo cutting board is that many manufacturers do not disclose if the bamboo they use for their cutting boards is sustainably sourced. And they do not share how the cutting board is made.

     

    This can lead to some misconceptions about how healthy or how positive the impact of purchasing a bamboo cutting board is.

     

    To prevent you from selecting a toxic bamboo cutting board, avoid the following things:

    • Glues with formaldehyde – Some manufacturers glue the planks of bamboo together with a glue that contains formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a carcinogenic substance, which can leech into the food you are chopping or the air you are breathing.
    • Unethical or unsustainable harvesting – not all bamboo is grown equally; look for organically grown bamboo
    • Non-organic processing – Generally speaking, if a cutting board is certified organic, then they cannot use formaldehyde during processing and are growing a healthy crop of bamboo.

     

    The use of formaldehyde is the most distressing concern when choosing a bamboo cutting board. It requires you to do a little bit of research and read up on each brand before purchasing a bamboo cutting board.

     

    So, Maple or Bamboo, Which Cutting Board Is A Safer Bet?

    Because a bamboo cutting board can be toxic, the safer option is a maple cutting board. However, you should do your research about each manufacturer before making a final purchase. Some manufacturers are clearer than others when it comes to what materials they use.

     

    When Is A Maple Cutting Board the Choice for You?

    You should choose a maple cutting board if you want a beautiful, multipurpose cutting board. The maple cutting board allows for versatility in the kitchen since it can be used as a serving platter or for its intended purpose as a cutting board.

     

    The best part about maple cutting boards is that these cutting boards naturally inhibit bacterial growth. This means you will have a long-lasting, durable, and safe cutting board for years to come.

     

    The Advantages of A Maple Cutting Board

    Maple cutting boards are a great choice because of the many advantages they have. A maple cutting board can be purchased as a solid block of wood or as a cutting board with glued maple wood planks. This flexibility allows you to choose the best maple cutting board for you based on other parameters such as cost and aesthetics.

     

    A maple cutting board has many advantages for any chef:

    • Multiple purposes– cutting board and presentation platter
    • Durable – As mentioned earlier, this is a key feature of a good cutting board; solid maple boards will last for years!
    • Expensive, but worth it – The price you pay will pay off in ease of use and longevity
    • An industry-standard – Easy to shop for and find a size and style that meets your needs
    • Anti-microbial – Maple has a dense wood grain and natural resistance to bacterial growth

     

    Maple cutting boards are thought of as a fancier choice by many chefs and cooking connoisseurs. This is particularly represented by the price and overall look of the cutting board. Constructing a hardwood cutting board, such as the maple cutting board, is arguably more difficult than the less expensive bamboo grass options.  

     

    The Different Types of Maple Cutting Boards

    Maple cutting boards are offered in the three different wood grain constructions. However, face-grain maple cutting boards are quite expensive. The face-grain maple cutting boards are usually custom made because gluing thin layers of maple together is a tedious task.

     

    The other two options are edge grain and end grain. It is mainly personal preference or budget that should dictate your buying decision if you decide a maple cutting board is right for you.

     

    How Easy Is It to Clean A Maple Cutting Board?

    A maple cutting board is easily cleaned and maintained for ultimate performance over the years. If you take good care of your maple cutting board, it will not need to be replaced for years. It only takes a few simple steps to care for your maple cutting board.

     

    Use the following steps to keep your maple cutting board clean and sanitized:

    • Rinse with water after finished chopping
    • Wash with mild soap and warm water
    • Rinse with hot water
    • Drywith a clean, lint-free towel or cloth
    • Place upright to dry

     

    In addition to keeping your maple cutting board clean and sanitary, you also have to maintain the wood. This requires a few extra steps every few weeks or months, depending on how often you are using (and washing) your maple cutting board.

     

    The following list provides key maintenance to your maple cutting board, ensuring its long life:

    • Sprinkle coarse salt on to the board's surface
    • Slice a lemon and place cut side down on board, and rub in the salt
    • Rinse with hot water

     

    The lemon juice will help neutralize smells and remove stains. If you do not have a lemon, you can also use white vinegar. Baking soda is another good cleaning agent to remove unwanted smells and stains.

     

    How to Oil and Maintain A Maple or Bamboo Cutting Board

    Mineral oil or beeswax is needed for keeping a cutting board maintained. Both maple and bamboo cutting boards need to be oiled. You should follow the below steps every month or when you notice the surface of your cutting board has dried out.

     

    The following steps will walk you through oiling a cutting board as part of normal upkeep:

    1. Start with a dry cutting board. Make sure your cutting board is completely dry before applying any oil.
    2. Apply the oil to the cutting board.
    3. Polish your cutting board. Use a dry, clean, lint-free cloth to rub the oil in the wood grain direction.
    4. Repeat conditioning as needed. Continue this application process until the board does not absorb oil anymore; this may take two or three applications on brand new or especially old cutting boards.
    5. Dry overnight, and then you are ready to use your good as a new cutting board.

     

    Even though many bamboo cutting boards are touted as low maintenance, you will get a longer life out of them if you apply oil regularly.

     

    Why Oil Your Cutting Boards?

    The main reason to oil your cutting board is to prevent other liquids from soaking into the board during chopping. Additionally, it is important to oil a cutting board because it will help prevent warping and cracking, which can happen when dry cutting boards are exposed to water.

     

    The following are food-grade mineral oils you can purchase to maintain any wooden cutting board:

     

    These highly rated oils will keep your cutting board conditioned and clean while restoring the wood grains' beauty and sheen.

     

    Avoid using any of the following household or cleaning products on your cutting board, as it can be hazardous to your health and the longevity of the cutting board:

    Cleaning Products to Avoid

    Household Products to Avoid

    • Undiluted bleach
    • Rubbing alcohol
    • Other cleaning solvents

     

    • Canola oil
    • Coconut oil
    • Corn oil
    • Olive oil
    • Palm oil
    • Peanut oil
    • Sesame oil
    • Teak oil
    • Vegetable oil
    • Walnut oil
    • Non-food grade mineral oils

     

     

    Many of these cooking oils turn rancid with time, which will leave any chopped food tasting badly and create a horrible smell. Using an oil that is not food grade is again endangering your health by potentially ingesting toxic chemicals.

     

    On a similar note, you do not want to use harsh cleaning products because they will dry out the board and can leave toxic residues behind, which would be dangerous to ingest.

     

    Why Use A Wax on Your Cutting Board?

    Wax is used in addition to the application of mineral oil on a cutting board. After the application of the oil has dried, it is time to add some wax. These usually come in the form of a cream. You should wax both maple and bamboo cutting boards.

     

    Wax or wax creams are applied similarly to how you oil a cutting board:

    1. Apply the wax. Use a small amount of wax cream directly to the cutting board.
    2. Buff in the wax. Using a lint-free cloth and circular motions, rub the cream into the cutting board, creating a thin film.
    3. Cover all sides with wax. Repeat until the cutting board is completely waxed, including the edges and underside of the cutting board. No need to wait for the was to settle and dry. You can use the cutting board right away.

     

    Board waxes create a film that fills in all the cracks, crevices, and scratches that have accumulated on the cutting board due to normal use. This helps increase your cutting board's safety by closing areas that could easily collect and harbor bacteria.

     

    When It's Time To Get A New Cutting Board

    It is time to get a new cutting board when the grooves in the board become too deep to smooth over with wax. At this stage, the deep grooves can hold on to food particles and be a breeding ground for bacteria and other microbes.

     

    The following questions indicate whether or not it is time for you to get a new cutting board:

    • Are the grooves deeper than shallow scratches or nicks? If your answer is "yes," it is time to buy a new cutting board.
    • Do you want to repair the deep grooves and restore your cutting board? If your answer is "no," then it is time to get a new cutting board.

     

    An easy way to extend your maple or bamboo cutting board's life is to sand it down and remove all the deep grooves. Afterward, you would wash, oil, and wax the cutting board. This process would return it to its original form, and you could continue to use it without any potential health hazards.

     

    If your cutting board has deep grooves and you do not want to sand it down, it is time for a new cutting board. It is good practice to inspect your cutting board before and after each use. If you notice any deep grooves, it is time for your cutting board to be:

    • Discarded
    • Recycled
    • Refurbished

     

    Which Cutting Board Is Better for Your Knives?

    The maple cutting board is better than a bamboo cutting board for all knives. A maple cutting board will not dull knives as quickly as a bamboo cutting board. A bamboo cutting board has several reasons that make it the worst option for expensive kitchen knives.

     

    The following reasons are what make a bamboo cutting board bad for your knives:

    • Harder than maple wood
    • Dulls knives quickly
    • Knives made of less expensive steels that can easily be bent
    • The high silica content of bamboo can damage even higher quality knives
    • The glue used to form a bamboo cutting board causes dulling of all knife blades

     

    If you are picky about your knives' longevity and quality, bamboo cutting boards may not be for you. However, if you already own a bamboo cutting board and find it too harsh on your knives, you can use it as a serving platter instead of a cutting board!

     

    In Summary: Both Cutting Boards Have Pros & Cons

    Both a maple and bamboo cutting board are great options for your kitchen. However, the maple cutting board can be more stylish than a bamboo cutting board. The bamboo cutting board is more sustainable than the maple cutting board.

     

    Even though both have their own benefits and drawbacks, you may be wondering which cutting board you should choose for your home. The best option is a bamboo cutting board. 

     

    On a bamboo cutting board, you do not have to worry about what you are chopping. You can chop anything from meats to veggies. A maple cutting board can't have meats cut on it due to the potential for harboring bacteria.