End grain cutting boards boast the traditional feel and appearance that people associate with a “butcher block.” These end grain butcher blocks are typically classified either as face grain, edge grain, or end grain. These three classifications reference the part of a typical board of wood that they contain. Face grain cutting boards are constructed from the top/bottom of a typical board, edge grain boards are constructed from the two long edges/sides of the board, and end grain boards include the wood from the two short ends of the board. Several end grain pieces from different boards are then joined together to create the work surface of the finished end grain wooden cutting board. Afterward, they are glued back together. The process is finished with the board being sanded and oiled. Joining these different pieces of wood (with different tints) creates the butcher block appearance. End grain cutting boards are considered top of the wooden cutting board class.
End grain boards vary in shape, size, price, and even color. The common types of hardwood used in making this type of cutting board are Maple, Walnut, Oak, Cherry, and Birch. They have a checkered pattern which makes them different from other types of wood cutting boards and also makes them beautiful.
End grain boards have a hard surface, which gives them a high tolerance for different types of knives. The orientation of the wood fibers on their hard surface allows a knife’s edge to pass through them, reducing wear to your knives.
Professional chefs and butchers mostly use end grain cutting boards for chopping large quantities of meat or bones.
There are three definitive features of end grain cutting boards that make them the top in their class. These three features are their resistance to cut marks, warping, and splintering.
Resistance to Cut Marks
Nothing makes a wooden cutting board look dingier quicker than a montage of slice marks all over the face of the cutting board. These slice marks not only subtract from the beauty of the natural wood grain, but they also allow food juice stains to settle into the crevices. Thankfully, the end grain cutting board is “self-healing.” The end grain cutting board has been described as being similar to the bristles of a broom. When a knife makes contact with an end grain board the wood reacts like the bristles of a broom would. Essentially, “the bristles” move aside and let the blade pass, but then “the bristles” slowly return to their original position once the blade is removed.
Less Likely to Warp
Wooden cutting boards made with the end grain are also less likely to warp than boards made from the edge grain, or top grain. Warping is usually caused by water and moisture that causes the wood to swell. Normally, end grain boards are much thicker than other types of wooden cutting boards. This thickness offers layers of protection meaning there is a low chance of end grain boards warping or developing cracks.
The third feature of end grain cutting boards that makes them the best is that you will not have to worry about splinters. The wood fibers face a different direction; therefore, it will not splinter.
Type of Wood
You can purchase an end grain wooden cutting board made from different types of wood. The best woods for cutting boards typically come from fruits, nuts, or syrup. For example, cherry, walnut, or maple wood. Teak wood is also popular because it is cheap, but it contains a lot of silica and tends to wear down knives. Bamboo grass is another popular option, although it can also tend to be a little harsh on knives.
You get what you pay for and end grain cutting boards are no exception. End grain cutting boards are more expensive than other wooden cutting boards, but they also last much longer.
End grain cutting boards do require more care than say a plastic or bamboo cutting would, but they require the same care as other cutting boards made of wood. End grain boards are porous and absorb liquid that can lead to bacteria growth so they should be hand washed and dried after each use. They should also be oiled routinely to keep the wood moisturized and looking its best.
First start by washing them with warm or hot soapy water, including the underside and edges, then rinsing them properly under cold running water. They should never be submerged in water as they can absorb it and crack.
After rinsing, you dry your cutting board with soft towels or paper towels and place it on its feet. Placing the board on its feet helps to avoid moisture build up.
Tough stains should be removed by using salt and washing with a solution of water and vinegar. You could also cut a lemon in half and rub it all over the board.
Depending on how often you use your end grain cutting board, they have to be reconditioned with mineral oils and beeswax (personally I prefer using coconut oil). Heating the oil before use is recommended because it helps the board absorb the oil very well.
Taking proper care of your cutting boards makes them healthy, beautiful, and also helps to increase their lifespan.
End grain cutting boards have some features that make them stand out from other wooden cutting boards; these characteristics are:
• They are attractive:
End grain cutting boards have a distinctive checkered look which makes them beautiful and attractive.
• They are durable:
An advantage of an end grain cutting board is its durability. They have a fibrous structure that helps the board absorb the forces of a knife’s edge. This structure prevents the board from having scratches on the surface. They usually last for years if properly maintained.
• They do not dull knives quickly:
Knives stay sharper and don’t need frequent sharpening when using them on an end grain board. The fibrous structure causes less damage to your knives because it gives way for your knife’s edge and recoils back into shape. It causes less damage to knives, unlike other wood cutting boards.
• They are self-healing:
The fibrous structure of the end grain cutting board also helps it heal from chopping marks easily by closing up a few minutes after the mark is made.
• They are sanitary:
End grain boards have antiseptic properties like other types of wooden boards; it helps abhor microbial growth on the board and keeps you from getting sick.
End grain cutting boards also have some flaws you need to know about. If you are using one or planning to get one for yourself, you need to consider them and make sure they don’t pose as a problem. Their disadvantages are:
• They are expensive:
Among all other wood cutting boards, end grain cutting boards are the most expensive. This is due to the number of processes involved in its production.
• They are heavy:
End grain cutting boards are required for heavy-duty work like chopping of meat and bones that can only be carried out when the board is thick and heavy. The heaviness makes it challenging to move around and also tricky to clean.
• They absorb moisture easily:
The fibrous nature of end grain cutting boards also stands as a disadvantage to it. The board absorbs food juices, water, and other liquids quickly, and this causes warping to the board. Eventually, the board will crack if it keeps absorbing a large quantity of moisture over time.
• They are difficult to maintain:
End grain cutting boards are difficult to maintain and clean. They can’t be tossed into the dishwasher, but as we discussed earlier, there are a lot of things to consider while taking care of them. They need to be treated with the utmost care.
End grain cutting boards are the best, and the most expensive, type of wooden cutting board you can purchase. They are resistant to cut marks, less likely to warp, and pretty much splinter-proof. Cherry, walnut, or maple woods are the best types of woods to look for when purchasing an end grain cutting board. End grain boards do take basic care, like other wooden cutting boards, but with basic maintenance they are able to be used for years.
They are aesthetically pleasing; they have gained popularity because of their beauty and high durability. They have properties unique to them, like their fibrous structure, sturdiness, and self-healing ability. They also have flaws you should consider carefully before opting to get one.
Walnut Wood Cutting Board Made in USA by Virginia Boys Kitchens
Check out this highly rated walnut end grain board. Note I get paid a fee if you use the link to buy the board