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How is your cutting board right now? If it is in a pretty sorry state with scratches and discoloration then you are not alone. The easy option is always to go for a cheap, standard wooden or plastic cutting board and to not really think about durability or performance.
However, it isn’t long before they show signs of wear and you wonder if you should still use them. That is why I want to talk to you today about end grain boards. I believe that while these products are more expensive, the right product can be a great investment.
Is end grain better than edge grain?
Edge grain boards are the most common option as they are easy to form from one piece of wood. Imagine looking at a standard plank of wood from a tree. The length shows the edge grain, with the grain running parallel with the surface.
The edge is on the side. However, this is seen as an inferior option because of concerns about hygiene and durability.
That is why so many cooks turn to end grain cutting boards now. These boards are the opposite, with the end grain of the wood on show, so the grain runs away from the surface of the board.
Why are end grain cutting boards better?
There are two common reasons why keen cooks turn to end grain cutting boards over the more standard option. The first is durability. The position of the grain and the construction of the boards mean that you are less likely to damage the material with a knife.
Cut and dents from knives can splinter the wood and great grooves where dirt and bacteria may settle. Many of the best products are also treated with oils to keep them strong and protected for longer.
The other reason is that they are a more attractive and interesting choice. If you have a wooden board with one continuous surface, you don’t get the same sort of pattern or visual appeal as a board with lots of pieces of end grain wood.
These boards draw the eye of dinner guests, which is why so many are used as serving platters as well as cutting boards.
Things to consider when choosing the best end grain cutting board
1) What type of wood is used for end grain cutting boards?
While all end grain boards are made from wood, there are differences between products depends on the wood used. One of the most popular choices for high-end cutting boards is teak.
This is a tough material that looks great when oiled and many companies promise to use a sustainable source. Others go for a darker walnut, which seems to be durable enough too and has a more dramatic look.
Cheaper brands may opt for something more cost-effective to save money. There are brands that try and create eco-friendly bamboo boards, but they don’t have the same longevity.
2) The size of the surface area.
These boards come in a range of different sizes. It is important to get an idea of the ideal size before ordering. Otherwise, you could end up with something much smaller than expected or too big for your counter.
Measure out an appropriate space on any work surface in your kitchen for a better idea of what you need. You can then compare options based on these optimal dimensions.
Be aware that some brands have a lot of choices while others only have one size. So, if you find a design you love, but it is only in one size, you may have to compromise.
3) Additional features that might make it even more practical
It isn’t always enough for these products to offer a strong cutting surface. That is why companies add in extra details and features to make their products even more interesting and beneficial to consumers.
A common feature is the use of handles on the sides for transportation. This is often a recess carved into the wood, but others use metal handles. Boards designed as butchers’ blocks tend to have what is known as a “juice groove” to catch run-off.
This may be on just one side or on both. Other products have clever designs that allow the board to slide over plates or that have sorting compartments.
4) The way it looks.
As I mentioned before, one of the reasons that these boards are so popular is because of the way that they look. Obviously, performance is crucial if you are going to get your money’s worth. But, it is also nice to have something beautiful on display.
This is especially true for any boards that double up as serving platters. So, consider the pattern and use of wood for an idea of the tones and effect you might get.
The natural materials mean that no board will look exactly as it does in photos online, but it shouldn’t be far off. Also, looks at additional aesthetic details like the finish on the corners or any branding.
5) The cost.
Unfortunately, these boards are going to cost you more than a standard cutting board. The amount of work that goes into crafting them and creating the clever designs means a higher price-tag – and deservedly so. Still, there is a big difference in price between models so you can still shop around based on your budget.
The way that I see them, there are products that are either cheap, affordable, luxurious, or overpriced. Your ideas of the price points on these may vary. But, you don’t want to go for something too cheap that won’t last or too expensive without any extra benefits.
There are some great affordable options between $75 – $125 that should serve you well. Beyond that, you can find more luxury options with clever features. Watch out for those beyond $200 to be sure that they offer the best possible solution for your needs.
6) The longevity and ease of maintenance.
These boards are meant to be the most durable option, lasting for years with little to no damage. However, it is clear from consumer feedback that this isn’t always the case.
There are times when you will find a product with a ton of 5-star reviews about the look and performance, but then also some 1-star reviews stating the opposite. People are upset when the wood splits along the joins or warps.
Warped wood is often the result of too much water soaking into the board. So, it is vital to take good care of these boards at all times. A gentle wash rather than submerging the board makes a big difference.
Many brands also recommend that buyers oil and maintain their boards periodically for the best performance. It is possible that some users fail to do this. Still, comments about board cracking and splitting after weeks do show that there is a gamble in choosing this sort of product.
Which is the best end grain cutting board for your needs?
Below, I have added some reviews of seven boards that I think are worthy of consideration. There are some pros and cons to all of them, including some of the common issues mentioned above.
I have also tried to find items across the price range, including some that are affordable under $100 and others that are potentially overpriced at more than $200. They are all practical and attractive in their own ways.
My top pick in end grain cutting boards.
It is difficult to choose my top pick out of the models below, as there are some beautiful and helpful creations out there if you have the budget for them. However, I think I have to go with the reversible walnut end grain cutting block.
That is because I was surprised at just how much you get for the price. Other, more expensive products seem to want a lot of maintenance and money without that much in return.
This one gives you an attractive board with the juice groove, reversible side, handle, and a stand – the latter being a unique feature among these products. This is the sort of board you can try out and see how you get on. If you then fall in love with the style of cutting board, you can always save up for one of the high-end versions.
The 7 best end grain boards for your consideration
What I like most about this option is that is double as a serving board as well as a cutting board. You can prepare meals with ease on the surface and also use it to present items to a dinner table, such as when creating a sharing platter for a dinner party.
The strong steel handle on the sides means it is easy to carry. There are two sizes to choose from medium 15.8’’ by 11.8’’ and the extra-large that is 25’’ by 18’’.
Also, because this is a board that will be on show to guests, it is important that it looks great. Here you have a nice shape and lots of small pieces of teak assembled to create a pattern with different tones and colors.
There is also the Lionswood logo branded into the center of the board. This one is made with sustainable teak for durability and infused with oils for protection – so shouldn’t discolor at all.
There is one complaint from a user that their plates didn’t fit in the slot provided underneath. Still, it is a nice idea and shows the craftsmanship in these handmade items. It is also a fair price – not the cheapest here but far from the most expensive.
There is a different material this time for a different look. I like the effect of the walnut as it creates a darker tone and something a bit more dramatic for the kitchen. This works well with something as big and substantial as this butcher’s block. It immediately looks like a more reliable place to work.
There is also the nice addition of the “juice groove” around the edge, to stop any blood and other fluids from running onto your nice clean counter or contaminating other food items.
This should also make the board pretty easy to clean at the end of the meal too. There is one size available here – a 20 by 13 ?’ board with a 2’’ thickness. This places it between the two sizes of the Lionswood option above.
Be aware that there are questions about quality control from some buyers. For example, one had to sand down one side as it was rougher, and a small minority have seen cracks developing.
But, there are still those that take great care of this board that are happy with their choice. It is also a lot more expensive at over $200. you will have to decide if the features and quality are enough to warrant this price.
Moving onto this option from Annisscreation, it is easy to get drawn into this product because there appears to be so much on offer for such a low price. If there are budget, affordable, luxury, and overpriced options in end grain boards, this one is in the affordable range compared to the potentially overpriced Mevell block.
There are so many helpful features that suggest a value for money. There is the same sort of groove around the edge to catch run-off. There are also recessed handles and a little matching stand to hold the board on display on your counter. It isn’t the largest option, at 17’’ by 13’’, but it should be fine for most needs.
A possible reason for the lower cost is that there isn’t the same level of craftsmanship on the surface of the board. Many of the best models have lots of small pieces of wood with different grains and tones to create a really interesting effect. That isn’t the case here. The dark walnut is still attractive but doesn’t have the same wow factor that makes end grain boards stand out over standard options.
This next option is another board that is a little more on the affordable side. It could be a great entry-level tool for new users to see what end grain cutting boards are really like.
One of the interesting factors here is that the designers used Acacia wood rather than walnut or teak. This doesn’t appear to be as common, although there is no doubt that it gives an interesting effect.
I also like the rounded edges on this board, which creates a softer feel than some of the dramatic butcher’s blocks.
However, I can’t rate this one as highly as the Anisscreation board because of a lack of features. While the walnut board above is affordable and feature-rich, this one doesn’t do anything but offer a clean cutting surface.
That surface is great and most users are happy with the look and durability. But, it is clear from the features of other products that they were a little lazy here.
What I like about this one is that you get some nice features in addition to the cutting surface. There are nonslip feet, a juice groove, and inset handles for carrying it to the table. I also like the sorting compartments on one side, which is unique for this series of products.
Otherwise, this board is similar to the expensive butcher block above. The size is fair at 17’’ by 13’’, not the smallest nor the largest, and you get that dark walnut with a nice pattern.
The biggest issue with this option is that it requires a lot of maintenance and care. A lot of these boards take some work to keep in the best condition, but there seem to be more warnings here. There is a recommendation to oil the board every three weeks with mineral oil, and to watch out for water damage if submerged.
The reason that I highlighted the non-slip feet on the previous model is that there is an issue with this next block. There are some buyers that say it doesn’t lie completely flat and that they need to put a cloth under it to keep it stable.
I also dislike the term “True men double-sided cutting board”, but that’s a whole other argument.
What I do like, however, is the use of ash for a lighter look. It is very pretty. There are also two sizes, the largest is 24 by 18 inches, and the smallest 16 by 12 inches. There is also that same reliable juice groove on one side.
Finally, we have this teak option. Teak really does stand out as one of the best materials to use. Also, I like that there are lots of sizes to choose from. The largest is 24 by 18 and the smallest 12 by 12. The inset handles and pre-oiled surface add to the practical side of this product.
Buyers may also be pleased to learn that the company is an official partner of the National Forest Foundation. This means that purchases should supports reforestation efforts – making this a more eco-friendly gift for some friends and family.
Unfortunately, there are some of the usual comments about the board splitting. This seems to be the risk that you take when you choose a teak end grain cutting board. Sometimes the joins just don’t hold.
Finding the best end grain boards for your kitchen.
In the end, the final choice comes down to the cost, the features provided, and the likelihood of getting a good investment. You want a product that is going to give you your money’s worth with that ideal durable surface, helpful features, and great look.
You should soon find that your new end grain cutting board is a great improvement and you won’t want to go back to edge grain cutting boards ever again.
You may also decide to upgrade to a more substantial dual-purpose board or butcher’s block in the future. Take your time and see which board you can see in your kitchen for a long time to come.