Cutting boards are an essential tool in any kitchen. Whether you’re a professional chef or a home cook, you need a reliable surface to prepare your ingredients.
Two popular wood types for cutting boards are cherry and maple. Both options have their own unique characteristics and benefits, but which one is the right choice for you?
In this guide, we’ll dive deep into the world of cherry and maple cutting boards, comparing their properties, maintenance, and ecological impact to help you make an informed decision.
The Basics of Cherry and Maple Cutting Boards
Cherry wood, derived from the cherry tree, is a popular choice for cutting boards due to its beautiful color and fine, straight grain.
It is slightly softer than maple, but still offers excellent durability for long-term use. The reddish-brown hue of cherry wood darkens over time, adding a touch of elegance to your kitchen.
Maple wood, sourced from the maple tree, is another popular option for cutting boards. It is known for its durability, resistance to wear, and light, uniform color.
Maple is harder than cherry, which makes it an excellent choice for heavy-duty cutting tasks. The tight, closed grain of maple provides a smooth and consistent cutting surface.
Comparison of Properties
Hardness and Durability
Both cherry and maple are hardwoods, making them suitable for cutting board use. Maple is the harder of the two, with a Janka hardness rating of 1,450 lb-ft, while cherry has a rating of 995 lb-ft.
This means that maple cutting boards will generally be more resistant to wear, dents, and scratches compared to cherry.
However, cherry cutting boards are still durable enough for everyday use and provide a slightly softer surface that may be gentler on your knives.
Maintenance and Care
Wood cutting boards require regular maintenance to keep them in good condition. Both cherry and maple cutting boards should be oiled with a food-safe mineral oil to prevent drying and cracking.
Maple cutting boards may require more frequent oiling due to their higher density and tighter grain.
To clean a cherry or maple cutting board, wipe it down with a damp cloth and mild soap after each use. Avoid soaking the board in water, as this can cause warping and splitting.
For stubborn stains or odors, a paste made from salt, baking soda, and water can be applied and then wiped clean.
The choice between cherry and maple cutting boards may come down to personal preference in terms of appearance.
Cherry wood features a warm, reddish-brown color that deepens with age, while maple has a light, creamy hue that remains consistent over time.
Both woods have attractive grain patterns, with cherry being slightly more pronounced and maple showcasing a more subtle, uniform look.
Safety and Hygiene
Wood cutting boards, including cherry and maple, have natural antibacterial properties that help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
Studies have shown that bacteria on wood cutting boards tend to die off more quickly than on plastic or glass surfaces.
Both cherry and maple cutting boards offer similar levels of protection in this regard.
One important factor to consider when choosing a cutting board is how it affects your knives. Cherry wood is slightly softer than maple, which can help preserve the sharpness of your knives.
While maple cutting boards are still knife-friendly, they may cause slightly more wear on your blades due to their higher density.
Both cherry and maple trees are sustainably harvested in the United States, with responsible forest management practices in place.
This means that when you choose a cutting board made from either of these woods, you are supporting an industry that takes care of the environment.
The carbon footprint of a cherry or maple cutting board depends on factors such as transportation and manufacturing processes.
However, since both woods are sourced domestically in the United States, their overall carbon footprints are relatively low compared to imported woods or other materials like plastic.
Price and Availability
In general, cherry cutting boards tend to be slightly more expensive than maple cutting boards due to their unique appearance and higher demand.
However, both options are widely available at various price points, so you can find a cutting board that fits your budget.
Side-by-Side Comparison Table
|Feature||Cherry Cutting Board||Maple Cutting Board|
|Hardness||Softer (995 Janka Rating)||Harder (1,450 Janka Rating)|
|Maintenance||Regular oiling||More frequent oiling|
|Aesthetics||Warm, reddish-brown color||Light, creamy hue|
|Knife Friendliness||Better for knife edges||Slightly more wear|
|Environmental Impact||Sustainable, low carbon||Sustainable, low carbon|
|Price||Slightly more expensive||Generally more affordable|
Can I use one cutting board for both raw meats and vegetables?
It is recommended to use separate cutting boards for raw meats and vegetables to prevent cross-contamination. If you only have one cutting board, make sure to thoroughly clean and sanitize it between uses.
How often should I oil my cherry or maple cutting board?
You should oil your cutting board at least once a month or more frequently if it starts to look dry. Maple cutting boards may require more frequent oiling due to their higher density and tighter grain.
Can I put my cherry or maple cutting board in the dishwasher?
No, you should never put a wooden cutting board in the dishwasher, as the heat and water can cause warping, cracking, and damage to the wood.
Both cherry and maple cutting boards are excellent choices for your kitchen, offering durability, beauty, and natural antibacterial properties.
Cherry cutting boards are ideal for those who value a warm, rich color and a slightly softer surface for their knives, while maple cutting boards are perfect for those who need a harder, more durable surface for heavy-duty cutting tasks.
Ultimately, the decision between cherry and maple comes down to personal preference and the specific needs of your kitchen.