It's funny to think that just a few years ago, bamboo cutting boards were hard to come by. These days, the boards have taken their place as standard fare beside their wood and plastic peers. This material has endeared itself to all kinds of kitchen products, not to mention environmentalists, thanks to the plant's rapid growth and regeneration. Bamboo grows to a harvestable height in three to five years, as compared to decades for its tree counterparts, and it can regrow without replanting. It's also remarkably sturdy — 16 percent stronger than maple — yet gentler on knives than plastic. So while it holds up against daily chopping duties, it also resists deep gouges better than wood (and thus harbors less icky bacteria).
But bamboo is not indestructible, and it can split along its seams if not properly cared for. Curious as to how you can keep your bamboo cutting boards in tip-top shape? Read on to find out.
Before you make your first cut, drizzle that board with mineral oil and rub it in with a soft, dry cloth. The oil moisturizes the wood, helps to avoid splitting, and gives the bamboo that lovely burnished look. Repeat this every day for about a week, then condition your boards once a month thereafter.
Wash your cutting boards in warm, soapy water after every use. If you're a real stickler, you should dry them after each use as well, but I prop mine up in the dish rack to dry, and my boards are still in great shape.
If you use your bamboo boards for meats, it's important to disinfect them after each use. Dissolve one part vinegar in five parts water, and use a sponge to scrub down the board. Rinse and dry as usual. Keep in mind that it's just good practice to reserve one board entirely for meats. You'd hate to cross-contaminate your vegetables (especially if you eat them raw).
Remove Stains and Odors
From time to time, you may notice vegetable stains setting into the board, which is not a health hazard but can ruin the beauty of the bamboo. To get rid of stains, scrub some coarse salt over the surface of the board with a sponge, then rinse and dry. Odors can also ingrain themselves in the bamboo, which you can resolve by rubbing a paste of baking soda and water over the board before rinsing and drying.
Are you an advocate of bamboo cutting boards?