When I first started cooking, I never gave it a second thought. But then one day my Mom gave me a bright red cutting board for Christmas. I must admit, I thought it was a rather odd gift until she explained that she wanted me to have one that was easily kept separate to avoid issues of food-related illness. Here is all the info you need.
Cutting Board Basics Ė Plastic Vs. Wood:
The materials your cutting boards are made of is pretty important. The common materials are plastic, wood and glass. Nonporous surfaces like plastic or glass are easier to clean than wood and, therefore, better in terms of food safety. Wood is naturally very porous and if your wood boards are like my old ones, they split after a lot of use.
Because of this, wooden cutting boards are much more likely to harbor bacteria that can cause food-related illnesses. Regulations actually restrict the use of wooden cutting boards in commercial kitchens because of this risk.
Glass cutting boards are actually banned from commercial kitchens as well. Not because they harbor bacteria like wood, but because they can easily break and send glass shards into food. If glass and wood arenít allowed in nice commercial kitchens because of safety, why use them at home and put your family at risk?
Use plastic or acrylic cutting boards, not wood or glass.
A Colorful solution to Avoid Cross-Contamination:
So now to explain my Momís gift of the red cutting board; She explained the method of using color-coded cutting boards. The red cutting board she gave me was to be used for all raw meats I was preparing. Nothing else was to be used on this board. She also encouraged me to go get different colors of cutting boards for breads and vegetables, dairy products and cooked foods. So with just 4 colorful cutting boards you can easily avoid cross-contamination.
Cleaning Cutting Boards:
Acrylic or plastic boards can be run through a dishwasher, which is a great way to clean and sanitize them. It's another reason they're superior to wooden boards, because wooden boards may warp, crack or split if washed in the dishwasher.
If you donít have a dishwasherÖWhat, no dishwasher?! You are stronger than me. I donít know what Iíd do without my dishwasher. Oh yeah, back to cleaning tips for cleaning your cutting boards without dishwasher. Cutting boards should be washed with hot, soapy water after each use, then rinsed with clear water and air dried. You can also pat them dry with clean paper towels, but don't wipe them dry with a dishtowel.
You should also be sure to sanitize your boards by hand if you donít have a dishwasher. You can sanitize plastic cutting boards in a chlorine solution consisting of 1 tablespoon of liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Make sure you use unscented bleach for this. Spray your boards with this solution and let them soak for a few minutes. Then rinse and dry them as I just described above.
Donít get too attached to your cutting boards. When they wear out and get grooves in them you canít easily clean, throw them away and get new one! Just make sure they are the right color so you donít get confused if you are color-coding.
If you have any additional tips that you'd like to add, please post them on the Cook'n Club Forum (if you're a Cook'n Club Member)...or e-mail them to Dan@dvo.com.
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