Top 6 Dangerously Dumb Mistakes People Make with Cutting Boards
I bet you own a cutting board (afterall, who doesn’t?)
Purists own wood cutting boards.
Less particular people own plastic cutting boards.
Sorry, your granite, quartz or marble countertop does not qualify as a cutting board.
Of course, if you own our teak cutting board you deserve to be applauded for your appreciation of the finer things in life.
No, this isn’t a sales pitch. I’ll save that for another time.
So, let’s jump right into these 6 dumb, and potentially dangerous, cutting board mistakes.
Dangerous Cutting Board Mistake #1:
If your cutting board doesn’t have rubber or silicone feet like ours...
…your thanksgiving turkey could end up on the floor!
Of course that might not happen if you own one of those massive industrial-size cutting boards—the type that weighs 20+ pounds, and is almost the size of Rhode Island.
In that case, it won’t slip around on your countertop, but you’ll need to employ two bodybuilders to lift it, otherwise you’ll risk a hernia.
On the other hand, if you own a light to medium-weight cutting board, you’re constantly re-orienteering it on your countertop as it slips and slides as you cut, slice and chop your meal prep.
Not to mention, wielding a knife against a moving target is an unappetizing recipe for sliced fingers. Oweee!
I read somewhere to place two large rubber bands around the board to keep it from doing the slip and slide.
Well, I think that’s a pretty dumb idea.
First off, where can you find two large heavy-duty rubber bands that won’t snap when lassoing your cutting board?
And if you do find a few, one wayward cut, slice or chop with your knife and snap—you’ll cut the rubber band and it’ll whip your face. Ouch!
Place a damp, nappy towel beneath your cutting board!
OR buy one with silicone feet, especially if it’s time to replace your board (more on that below).
Dangerous Cutting Board Mistake #2:
Using an ity-bity cutting board about the size of a deck of cards, and only big enough, though barely, to slice an apple.
Sure, you’re saving space with a small board. But if you don’t have enough space in your kitchen for a real cutting board—forget the cutting board—remodel your kitchen!
And forget about those boards designed to look like your home state—unless you live in California, Alaska or Texas—and the board is nearly the same size.
Because with those itsy-bitsy, space-saving boards, you’ll also need an itsy-bitsy knife.
And if you are not surgically precise with your cutting—not only will everything you’re cutting fall off the board—you’re gonna need surgery to re-attach your fingertips.
Oh, as for those boards that are half epoxy with pretty blue colors that look like a river runs through it…
...do you really like eating slivers of epoxy with your turkey slices?
These are not cutting boards. At best, their serving boards, or decorations to hang on your wall—and never to be take down.
Get a rectangular-shaped cutting board that’s at least one inch thick, and at least 16 inches long and 12 inches wide (like ours!)
That way you’ll feel at ease as you experience the zen of slicing and dicing.
Dangerous Cutting Board Mistake #3:
Glass cutting boards!
Sure, they’re sleek, modern and smart looking—but it’s a dumb idea!
C’mon, what’s the first thing you can think of that makes a glass cutting board dangerous?
They break! They shatter! And the broken glass can cut you—or worse, you’ll be eating slivers of glass in your chopped salad!
Not to mention they’re slippery when wet!
Do you really want to be eating your next meal with 8 fingers instead of 10?
OR, if it slips out of your hands and falls to the floor—how many toes are you willing to lose?
Another “not a benefit.” They will dull your knives exponentially faster than a wood cutting board.
Sure, if you buy your cutlery at the “Dollar Store” it’s not a problem.
But if you buy chef quality knives—you’ll ruin them faster than you can say: Do you know how much my Henckels knives cost me!!
Ok, I’ll give you that glass is more resistant to stains and odors.
Purchase a wood cutting board. Any wood is better and safer than glass.
Excuse me, bamboo is not wood—it’s a grass. And no easier on your knives than glass.
And if you want the best wood—there’s no bester wood than teak.
What diamonds are to precious jewels, gold to precious metals, teak is to precious woods.
Dangerous Cutting Board Mistake #4:
There’s plenty of research showing that wood, and teak in particular, is less likely to harbor bacteria compared to plastic boards.
Nonetheless, plastic boards are still considered safe as long as they're thoroughly, and I mean thoroughly cleaned.
And, if we’re talking bacteria here, though I’m sure you heard it before, but it bears repeating, over and over, and over again.
Do not share your cutting board with those “other” foods.
In other words, prepping your meat on your cutting board and then using the same board for your vegetables is verboten (that's German for prohibido, which is Spanish for don't do it!) even if you dedicate one side for meat and one side for vegetables.
Ignore this warning and you risk cross-contamination, the technical term for transferring bacteria to other foods.
Which should be avoided at all costs.
Raw meat, poultry, and fish should never come into contact with any other ingredients.
Why? Because raw meat, poultry, and fish can harbor bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella, which can make you deathly sick.
So when you use just one cutting board for both meat and veggies, the juice from the former is more likely to contaminate the latter.
The only time it is okay for raw meat and raw vegetables or grains to come into contact with each other is when they are cooked together.
Even then, most one-pot recipes call for the meat to be cooked before the other ingredients are added.
Cross-contamination can also happen when you're prepping food for someone with an allergy.
Because even when a cutting board looks clean it could still harbor traces of an allergenic food, peanuts for example.
And then, when you use that same board on which you diced peanuts to then cut food for the person with a peanut allergy, peanut traces could transfer to the food they're eating.
Keep at least two cutting boards handy—one for meat, fish, and poultry, and one for vegetables, grains and fruit—and if necessary, a third for someone with food allergies.
Dangerous Cutting Board Mistake #5:
Not saying good-bye to an old and trusted friend when it’s time to part ways.
Look, even the best cutting boards do not last forever.
If you're using an old cutting board with deep grooves from chopping and cutting, it's time to retire it.
Especially if it has really deep, Grand Canyon-size, grooves that can’t be easily cleaned.
Because if the grooves are so deep that tiny specs of food can’t be easily removed—bacteria will grow there.
And then the bacteria will transfer onto the foods you're cutting.
This could then put you or others at risk of food poisoning.
Don’t be sentimental. Stop using a cutting board with deep grooves for food prep.
If you can’t bear to toss it—hang it on the wall and admire it from afar.
Dangerous Cutting Board Mistake #6:
Not sanitizing your cutting board.
Scrubbing your cutting board after each use with soap and water is correct, proper and smart.
But occasionally you need to do more.
Bring on the bleach!
Pour one gallon of water in your kitchen sink (with the stopper down).
Pour in one tablespoon of chlorine bleach.
Soak your cutting board in the diluted bleach solution for about three to five minutes.
This will be enough time for the bleach to kill any bacteria on the board.
Drain the water, and wash your board using hot water and dish soap like Dawn dishwashing soap to be sure all the bleach and its corresponding odor have been cleared off.
Dry your board with a towel, and stand it on end to completely dry out.
Season your board with food-grade mineral oil—exactly like you did when you first bought it, and every month thereafter.
And I mean really slather it on, and then let it sit for a few minutes to absorb the oil. Then wipe off the excess.
DO NOT wash a wooden cutting board in the dishwasher!
It's fine to put a plastic cutting board in the dishwasher, but the high heat and high moisture in a dishwasher will cause wooden boards to warp and or crack.
However, it’s perfectly acceptable and even advisable to place your cutting board in the dishwasher (with the door open) to allow air to circulate and dry your cutting board on all sides.
Remember, bacteria thrive in dark and damp conditions.
Also, your cutting board won't thoroughly dry if you lay it flat on your counter.
For a more detailed understanding of how to care for your cutting board I highly recommend you read our teak cutting board care guide.
Now for the long-overdue next episode (#13) in the painfully honest (this stuff can’t be made up) saga… The Truth.
BTW, if you’re new to this captivating story about why I wasn’t chosen to play Ken in the Barbie movie…
Read it from the beginning, starting with Episode 1.
THE TRUTH, Episode 13
If you recall from Episode 12…
After I returned to the States, I re-enrolled in the City College of New York and chose to major in Political Science with a focus on International Relations.
One of the classes I enrolled in was taught by the eminent Dr. Hans Morgenthau.
Morgenthau was a big name in International Relations and International Law.
He mentored Henry Kissinger.
Well, me and Morgenthau didn’t get along.
He was a German Jew, yet he didn’t like that I kept defending Israel in classroom discussions (Israel was a hot classroom topic, today even more so).
Anyway, when it was time to write a final paper for the class—I didn’t write one.
Can’t remember why. But I’m sure I had a reasonably lame excuse.
Not turning in a final paper, however, was an automatic fail for the class—and yet, suffering from some form of ego mania, I believed that rule didn’t apply to me.
A few days after the class turned in their papers, Dr. Morgenthau asked everyone to write down what grade they thought they should receive, not just for their final paper but also for the class.
With my mania progressing to psychosis, I said I should receive an “A” for both - for the paper I didn’t write and for the class.
In truth, I really just wanted to get a rise out of him, one last time.
I knew he was going to fail me…so what the hell, I had nothing to lose.
Yet, to this day, I still wonder why he gave me a B+
I’ve got theories. But the truth will never be known.
Here’s another unsolvable puzzle...
Why I chose to get my masters in International Relations at a university over there!
After bitching about how I hated living in Israel (when I was there a few years prior), I now applied to and was accepted into the masters program for International Relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
But it didn’t work out all that well.
You see, I was under the impression the classes would be taught in English.
Despite taking a Hebrew class during my previous time in Israel, all I remembered pretty much was how to ask where the bathroom is.
Understanding, speaking and writing Hebrew in a graduate-level academic environment was way beyond my capabilities.
Fortunately, I befriended a Canadian in my class who was fluent in Hebrew. And he translated most of the class notes and discussions for me.
But that arrangement was untenable over the long term.
At the end of the class year, I dropped out.
So, what did I choose to do next?
Despite my contention, from prior experience, that working as a volunteer on a kibbutz was tantamount to consensual slave labor, I decided nonetheless to give it another try.
But this time with a difference.
I didn’t want to be a volunteer again.
I wanted to join a kibbutz as a "member"—with equal rights and privileges like those who lived there.
And, I wanted to join a kibbutz that was still in development, in the planning stages—not an established kibbutz.
And, where most if not all the people were my age.
And, where they were mostly city-slickers like me.
A tall order no doubt.
Yet, I wanted to experience the building of a kibbutz—a community—literally from the ground up.
In short, I wanted an immersive experience like none I ever had before.
I found it at Kibbutz Ginosar
On the shores of the Sea of Galilee (the Kinneret)
I don’t remember how I found my gar’in—people endeavoring to start their own kibbutz.
But found them I did.
We were about 20 people all told, temporarily located at Ginosar, one of the oldest kibbutzim (established in 1937).
Slave labor all over again!
At Ginosar we did our “training,” which was more of a vetting than anything else.
As city-slickers, many in the gar’in were not used to rising at 3:00 am, then working for a minimum of eight hours under the hot summer Middle-Eastern sun, doing hard, back-bending physical labor.
And some of the girls didn’t like the idea of working eight hours in the kibbutz kitchen, or in the children’s nursery.
Others didn’t like that whatever personal ambitions they may have once harbored were now sublimated beneath the ambitions and collective needs of the combined many.
So we lost quite few, who eventually returned to Tel-Aviv, Haifa or other cities in Israel.
Over time though, newcomers took their place.
After a few months, while still living at Ginosar, we began to clear the land that would host our kibbutz.
Moran was to be located on a hill, half way between the Kinneret and the Mediterranean.
We secured a score of mobile homes, which we renovated, and in which we lived in while we built our permanent structures.
Below, that’s me standing on the scaffold, wondering how we would ever make these wrecks livable.
At the same time we bought parcels of land from its Arab owners, cleared it, plowed it, fenced it, planted and purchased livestock.
Here we are fencing some of our newly acquired fields:
Below, one of the fields and some of the cattle we bought from its Bedouin owner, whom we employed as a herd watchmen while we completed the fencing:
I still vividly remember being invited, along with a few others, into his tent. To sip coffee as we sat around a firepit.
His wife and children stayed hidden, behind a dividing tent wall.
I also remember him becoming visibly upset when one of our dogs walked into the tent.
Apparently, dogs are considered unclean, which was ironic, considering his tent had a dirt floor.
His sole modern convenience, a TV hooked up to his truck’s battery.
Make no mistake though, he was far from poor.
As was explained to me afterwards, he was a wealthy landowner, and actually owned a villa in a Palestinian town further north.
However, being Bedouin, he much preferred his ancestral nomadic lifestyle, traveling between and camping with his herds on his various properties.
Eventually, we moved out of our trailers
Between the fencing, farming and ranching, we started building our permanent homes, or rooms as it were.
Our hilltop kibbutz takes shape.
Behind it, way off in the distance to the left, a neighboring Arab village.
Mercifully, it wasn’t all hard work and no play
At the end of any given day, we gathered in or in front of someone’s room, drank coffee, ate cookies and fruit before going down to eat dinner in our communal dining hall.
In the photo below, that’s me on the far left in a plaid long-sleeve shirt.
Saturday, it's a one-day weekend in Israel.
It wasn’t uncommon for us to enjoy our one day off to go on a hike to explore the land.
Below, an Arab farmer working in his olive orchard:
Below, that’s me, gazing down at the Kinneret:
Me and my frequent hiking companion:
Below, me and a friend, and my Hebrew/English dictionary (I was still far from fluent).
Kibbutz Moran as it looks today:
I found it hard to leave all this behind.
I felt I belonged there. I had great friends, and great shared experiences.
Not to mention it was exciting and rewarding to build something from the ground up; and to enjoy the fruits of our labors with pride and love.
But I was soon forced to make a fateful decision. And that decision, once again, flung me down an unexpected path that would change my life forever.
In next month’s The Teakster: The Truth, Episode #14, I’ll tell you the rest of the story.
In the meantime, please let me know in the comments section below if you enjoyed reading this month’s Episode #13 of The Truth.
Until next month...
Stay teak strong!