As a beginner cook, I think it is important to know what equipment to use for cutting or chopping needs in the kitchen. Undoubtedly, a cutting board is one of the right choices for this need. But it needs to be made from hygienic, durable, and safe materials. You may hear about a cutting board made from hickory. But I’m sure you’ve asked yourself this question, too; is hickory good for cutting boards?
No, hickory wood isn’t ideal for your normal cutting boards. While the material is incredibly durable, other factors make it unsuitable for this purpose. The wood has pores that can trap food particles, which in the future makes way for bacteria and germs. Considering these, this isn’t the best option.
However, there is more than it seems to the picture. Why is it used so frequently if hickory is not suitable for cutting boards?
What are Hickory Wood and its origin?
Hickory is an umbrella term for 18 species categorized as ‘hard wood’. These trees also compose of the Carya genus and a majority of them are found in the United States.
The name itself is derived from the Native American word “pawcohiccora”, a direct reference to the nuts the trees bore (Source).
It started being used for furniture commercially in the late 1950s when its popularity is suspected of having kicked off.
Due to its resilient nature and aesthetic looks, it is also made for long-lasting flooring and furniture pieces. It is a popular yet expensive choice that adds a classy touch to your home!
What is a hickory end grain cutting board?
End grain cutting boards are noticeably different because of the direction of the wood grains. As opposed to parallel, where the grains are perpendicular to the surface, as in facing you. They are only made from hardwood trees such as hickory.
Professionals usually use these boards as they are durable and keep the knife in good form as opposed to edge grain. It can handle wear and tear way better than normal cutting boards.
Hickory itself is a suitable hardwood for this as it has fine grains. This is why you will see it being used as a butcher’s block.
Some users also think that hickory is a good choice for side-grain cutting boards. I found one who says that “it definitely works for side grain (Source).”
Is hickory good for cutting boards?
As far as using a hickory cutting board goes, there is one thing you do not need to worry about; dulling your knife.
Hickory wood, while not the softest out there, will not ruin your knife’s sharpness for some time. It is also resistant to cuts and will last longer. This is kudos to it being a well-known hardwood.
However, hygiene factors are very important in this case and hickory seems to fall short in that particular area. It has medium-sized open pores which trap food when in contact with it. If it is not properly cleaned, bacteria can inhibit the pores and get transferred onto your food.
This issue cannot be looked over, so what can you do to prevent contamination if you have a hickory cutting board?
Here’s a list of protective measures you can take;
- Keep separate cutting boards for different food groups like vegetables and meat to prevent cross-contamination
- Clean your cutting board as often as you can and also deep cleanse weekly to sanitize it completely.
Best hickory cutting boards
1. Hickory Solid Wood Cutting Board -Butcher Block Style
Sizes: 12″x7″x1 1/4″
Butcher’s block cutting boards like this one are end grain boards, so even though the thickness of the board is a standard 1 ¼ inch, it is definitely stronger than your normal boards.
It has been prepped with oil which prevents drying and cracking of the wood and brings out a deeper, richer color!
2. Hickory Solid Wood Cutting Boards Set of 3. Premium
Sizes: 16″/12″/8″x1 1/4″
Who doesn’t like a good deal? You can get a relatively cheap price of three hickory boards, all different shapes.
These boards also end grain and are made manually to ensure top quality! You will also find these already prepped to be put to use immediately.
Is hickory safe for cutting boards?
As for the use of a hickory cutting board, we have already seen how it may not be ideal but also what you can do to keep the board sanitary.
If you’re not particularly one for deep cleaning, often hickory cutting boards may not be the product for you, but that’s okay; there’s still a lot of fish in the sea.
However, there are other things to be considered for safety. If you’re familiar with cooking, you will know how big of a hazard a slippery cutting board is.
It can slip and you can cut yourself somewhere. In that regard, many users say that hickory gives you a good grip on the surface.
Such as this comment which says how “grainy wood has better grip”.
A tip to keep your board from sliding everywhere is to keep a wet towel beneath the board; try it!
What about while making a hickory cutting board?
You have to be careful when working with hardwood in general, but especially with this.
You will need your tools to be sharp. It would also do you good to expect some splinters working with this wood.
However, it can all be prevented if you wear the proper gear and use the proper techniques. You can take some guidance from a Reddit resident about how to handle hickory here!
How to cut hickory wood?
Hickory is a very dense hardwood, which means that you will need to put in actual work to cut it. With the right tools, however, it is very easy.
Things You Need:
- Carbide-tipped blades
- Rip blades
Tips on cutting hickory wood:
- Going for it at a slanted angle is an easier way to go about it.
- Feed machine the wood slowly, since Hickory leaves a lot of waste it is important that the blade clear itself of sawdust during the process.
- You may feel the need to turn the wood over as it cuts, it will make the cutting easier for you so go for it!
- It is important to sand the wood but for this specific wood, you will really have to put all the arm muscles into this job.
- Don’t cross-grain sand on hickory because this way the wood will scratch.
Different sizes of Hickory chopping boards and their use:
Once you’re on the hunt, you’ll be faced with the choice of what sized cutting board you should go for. In these situations, you should always keep in mind that different sized have different uses such as;
|12″ by 8″ (Regular)||Has enough room to cut multiple things at once can be stored easily for regular use (preparing medium-sized portions)Can be used to serve things on as well|
|16″ by 12″ (large)||More room to work onIs usually used in commercial kitchensBulkier (heavy duty)Also used to plate food on|
|8″ by 4″ (small)||Can be stored easily and for travels in smaller portions or for slicing herbs and such|
|Butcher’s block (standard width around 36″)||Can take a lot of impacts Resistive on cuts|
Why Hickory Too Porous For Cutting Boards?
Hickory has pores resembling semi-rings in its structure, but why is this a problem? For cutting boards, you put the utensil directly in contact with the food.
The pores trap some food particles and if not washed properly over time, can give way to bacteria. This obviously ruins any food you prep on the board.
There’s also a higher chance of cross-contamination; if you’re using the board to cut meat and then cutting fruit on the same board if it has not been cleaned properly, you can get very ill.
Hickory cutting boards: Pros and Cons
Now we’re at a point where a mind map of pros and cons can significantly help put the whole picture together, so let’s go!
- Very durable
- Long lasting- which is an advantage if you want to make a long-term investment
- Fine grains- this is perfect for making end-grain broads
- The aesthetics!- The rich color of this wood will enhance the view of your kitchen
- Open pores- there will be a higher chance of bacterial contamination
- Is not resistant to insect attacks
- Traps food inside pores
- Not very easy to work with- needs heavy-duty tools
Can any wood be used for a cutting board?
There are a lot of hickory alternatives that are used to make cutting boards.
Maple and cherry are also materials well known to be used for this purpose.
Maple is also a hardwood with other properties in common with hickory but is more suitable as a cutting board.
Cherry wood as well is the same. Both these options, you’ll find are good for your knife and food quality since they are more hygienic.
Aside from these, you can use oak wood, teak, and even walnut
Hickory vs maple cutting boards
Let’s bring the ‘household name’ of the cutting board industry- Maple- and hickory wood to a comparison;
|Durable and hard to mark/scratch||Durable but can be scratched easily|
|Porous wood||fewer pores|
|Not resistant to insect attacks||Anti toxic|
|Moisture resistant||Moisture resistant|
|Requires frequent deep cleaning||Deep cleansing is required but not as often|
|Does not dull your knife||Does not dull your knife|
1. Can I make a cutting board out of oak?
Of course! Oak wood is just another hardwood-like hickory. It is also a well-known material for end grain cutting boards for the same reasons hickory is.
You can make one yourself, too, all you need is an untreated block of wood and a table saw.
After you have cut the shape of the board, you just need to smoothen it out with sandpaper and then oil the board, and viola!
2. Is cherry wood good for chopping boards?
Cherry wood is definitely amongst the most famous materials for cutting boards and rightfully so.
You will find that it works amazingly for your knife since the surface will be soft enough. It does not absorb water and is also toxin-free. This means it is safe to prepare any meal!
3. Can you cut raw meat on hickory cutting boards?
Of course! It is totally safe to cut vegetables and meat on a wooden board. However, in the latter’s case, it requires more effort to properly clean and sanitize the board afterward.
As raw meat contains germs that can be transferred easily, you need to clean your board thoroughly so you can safely prepare for your next meal!
4. Are Hickory cutting boards expensive?
This certain type of wood is considered expensive by some just because of the fact that it is a rarer kind.
However, it is less expensive than exotic hardwoods. It even comes with more perks! So while it may seem like you’re spending a lot of money, it is definitely worth it!
You can find many types of hickory cutting boards for various prices.
5. How long can Hickory cutting boards last?
While the durability surely depends on the material, you should ideally change your cutting board annually.
This is because it can accumulate a lot of bacteria in its pores and the grooves left by knives. Hickory lasts very long but remember it
I never thought something like a cutting board could be so complex when purchasing. However, after the immense ease in the kitchen I got from getting a board that fit my needs, I now completely understand.
This article helped clear your questions regarding using hickory wood as cutting boards. I would still encourage you to look into multiple options before settling on one that suits you best.