The foundational feature of all food preparation, chopping boards are an kitchen essential for chefs and home cooks alike. In the wake of COP-26 and with environmental concerns becoming all the more pressing, there has been a movement towards personal responsibility when making our consumer choices. Bamboo cutting boards have henceforth become a highly popular option for eco-conscious cooks.

Why Bamboo ?

Bamboo grows at a rapid rate when compared to board alternatives such as oak or acacia, and more importantly is completely self-regenerating.

Of course there are manufacturers that decimate entire bamboo forests and destroy habitats when they are not harvesting sustainably, if you are particularly conscious of your footprint and its impact on China’s national animal, check if your bamboo boards are FSC Certified – established as sustainably farmed by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Another reason that bamboo boards are beginning to dominate kitchen countertops, is their price point. Markedly cheaper than other ‘wooden’ style chopping boards due to bamboo’s abundance and ease of harvesting, bamboo is rare in being an option for consumers that is simultaneously affordable and sustainable.

Bamboo is naturally anti-microbial, meaning bacteria will struggle to survive on its surface, reducing the risk of cross-contamination between foods when carrying out extensive prep jobs, and reducing the possibility of things like Salmonella.

Are Bamboo Boards Better than Plastic?

At MasterChef we would always advocate using different chopping boards in different materials depending on the raw food in question for risk reducing reasons. However, for those with a limited budget and limited storage space, bamboo cutting boards pose a great option for a multipurpose board that can be used for breads, veggies and meats alike. From the perspective of sustainability, there is really no competition between plastic vs bamboo chopping boards. Naturally occurring materials that can be harvested sustainably should always trump synthetic blends.

Are Bamboo Boards Heat Resistant?

Despite general conjecture and murky marketing campaigns promoting bamboo’s heat resistance, bamboo reacts to heat and naked flames as any other wood does. It will begin to warp and crack when exposed to temperatures above 450 degrees C for extensive periods of time. Your bamboo board will work fine as a countertop board for you to momentarily place pots and casseroles that have recently left the oven, however, we would recommend that you allow your cooking equipment to cool slightly if you plan on utilising your reversible chopping boards as serving boards for your kitchen table to prevent surface burns.

How to Clean Your Bamboo Cutting Board

Always wash your boards by hand. Though bamboo will survive being washed in the dishwasher, the long-term exposure to high temperatures can lead to splintering and general degradation in quality.

  • After using your bamboo cutting board, immediately rinse it with warm water to remove any food residue.
  • Avoid using hot water, as extreme temperature changes can warp or crack the bamboo.
  • Apply a few drops of mild dish soap to a soft sponge or dishcloth.
  • Gently scrub the entire surface of the cutting board, including both sides, with the soapy sponge or cloth.
  • Pay extra attention to areas with food stains or odours.
  • To disinfect, wipe the cutting board with a cloth soaked in white vinegar and let it sit for a few minutes.
  • Rinse the cutting board with warm water to remove all soap residue.
  • Make sure to rinse both sides and all edges.

Should Bamboo Boards be Seasoned?

Though it’s not necessary to oil or treat your bamboo boards, this will significantly extend their lifespan. A mistake that many home cooks make is seasoning their cutting boards with non-neutral oils such as olive oil that can lead to your board taking on a sour odour over time. When you feel your knives starting to struggle against the surface of your board, it's time to season it.

Apply a generous layer of board oil/cream onto your board, enough to completely saturate the board, and leave it to soak. Bamboo is naturally porous and will absorb a lot of oil, so do not be too precious about the amount of oil you apply. Re-oil the surface of your board less aggressively whenever you see the surface starting to wear. The initial seasoning will provide a sufficient foundation for you to simply ‘top up’ going forward.

As you can see, bamboo is a great option for those who are willing to give their boards a little TLC. The perfect option for those with a concern for our world who are looking for economical kitchenware. For busy parents who do not want a great deal of manual cleaning, a bamboo countertop board is perhaps a more apt choice, to carry out all of your prep work in one place and reduce hand-washing in turn. Despite their minor maintenance drawbacks, bamboo cutting boards are the perfect choice for home cook’s seeking out a one-size-fits-all approach.