Plastic and wood are best at preserving blades, On the Edge columnist Mike Kent says.
Of all the different types of cutting boards, the two best, and most popular, are wood and plastic. If you are using glass, stainless steel, marble, slate and other types of stone or metal, you are going to destroy your edge rather quickly and I highly recommend you stay away from them. I personally use plastic ones. They are light, require no maintenance and you can throw them in the dish washer for cleaning. They are inexpensive and come in different colors for the different food groups.
As for wood cutting boards, I do like these and know many chefs who only use wood. Different types of woods are used in cutting boards and if you are going to buy one, like everything else, it pays to spend a little more. If you get a good cutting board and take care of it, it will likely last you a lifetime.
Wood cutting boards come in a wide range of prices. The high-end boards will be the "end-grain" boards, which only look beautiful, they are highly cut-resistant and will be easy on the edge of your knife. Rather than going through the wood fibers, it goes between them. The other option is the "flat-grain" board. These are generally less expensive than end-grain boards and still provide a good cutting surface.
If you decide to purchase a wood cutting board, it is important to season the board before use. By doing this, it prevents staining and the absorption of bacteria and food odors. The way to do this is to wipe the board down with an edible oil, such as mineral oil. It's inexpensive and works well. A beeswax top coat is a nice addition to the oil that will seal the surface, but is not necessary.
Cleaning your cutting board is important. This should be done regularly by scrubbing it with hot water and soap. You should also disinfect it by using diluted bleach, vinegar or hydrogen peroxide.
A proper board will protect your knives. Proper cleaning will protect you.
Mike Kent is the owner of River's Edge Cutlery -- www.riversedgecutlery.com -- in the Mill Run area.