Maple is a stunning and very strong hardwood that is very popular as a material for cutting boards and butcher’s blocks. Hardwood like this is often chosen for cutting boards because they are fine-grained and therefore resistant to bacteria. The fibers trap the bacteria on the surface and leave it to dry out and die on the surface of the board. This, coupled with their beauty and their strength, makes hardwoods the first choice for cutting boards that are long-lasting and will stay looking beautiful and scratch-free.
The maple cutting boards we are going to be looking at today are all end grain boards as opposed to edge grain. But what’s the difference between edge grain and end grain, and why does it matter? Edge grain is when the wood is cut along the natural grain. These boards are usually one solid piece and come at a much lower price tag in comparison with end grain boards.
However, the surface is not as forgiving and will therefore not last as long and dull your knives more quickly. End grain is when the wood is cut at a 90-degree angle to the grain of the wood. The cutting board is then created by gluing smaller pieces side by side to create a large, smooth surface made from a patchwork of end-grain blocks. This surface is easier on your knives because it is essentially self-healing. The wood fibers shift out of the way when you cut down, cushioning the edge and keeping it sharp, and seal back up once the knife is removed. These boards are more expensive, but they are also longer lasting and more durable than their edge grain counterparts, making them a sound investment.
Although maple is not as sustainable as bamboo or acacia, there are ways to harvest them in a sustainable and eco-friendly way so you can have a beautiful board without the guilt. End grain boards can be made more sustainable still if they are made from waste wood which is very possible in this type of design. These boards can also be restored and therefore last you years, which is sustainable in itself. The surface is scar-resistant and will not chip or splinter. If you maintain your hardwood cutting board, it will last you forever with no need to buy a new one ever again!
The maple end grain boards we are going to be looking at today are large-scale and technically classify as butcher’s blocks. But what exactly are butcher’s blocks, and what’s the difference between them and a regular cutting board? Now, this may sound confusing, but while all butcher’s blocks are cutting boards but not all cutting boards are butcher’s blocks.
Think of butcher’s blocks as a specialized sub-genre of cutting boards. For a cutting board to classify as a butcher’s block, it must be a minimum of 12×12″ and no less than 1.5″ thick. They must also be made exclusively from end grain timber to qualify. These blocks are by nature heavier than regular cutting boards and are especially good for meat butchery though they can be used to prep anything you like as long as it is cleaned well in between food groups. Some boards are reversible for this exact purpose to make transitioning between meat and vegetable prep seamless.
To analyze these maple boards today, we are going to be looking at their dimensions, their weight, whether the wood is sustainably sourced, its appearance, and any added extra features that make these boards stand out. So without further ado, let’s get into these cutting boards.
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At the most affordable side of the scale, we have this Mevell maple cutting board at $89.99. This is a really good deal for a board of this size and style. A board like this is good for prepping at any scale as well as for presenting dishes when you are entertaining.
This beautiful board is handmade in Canada from sustainably sourced maple and has a natural pattern that creates a stunning patchwork across the board. The cutting board measures 18×12″ with a thickness of 1.5″ and comes seasoned and ready to use. Another few features that make this board a great value for money are the handles that have been recessed into the side and a deep juice groove in the perimeter to catch any juices when you are butchering. This makes these easy to use and simple to keep clean.
You can also buy the brands specialized 100% food-grade mineral oil or board conditioner alongside your cutting board so you can maintain your new board.
- Juice canal
- Minimum butcher block thickness
- Not reversible
This unique Eco Home Wood cutting board cleverly uses a series of hardwoods, of which maple is very prominent, to create a gorgeous geometric pattern. This surface is not only beautiful and great for presentation but is hardy enough to withstand even heavy butchery without scuffing. These boards are also eco friendly as it makes use of waste wood to create them.
The board measures 20x14x1.8\” and weighs a considerable 15lb. It has recessed handles on each side that make moving it from the kitchen to the table easy regardless of the size. A feature that makes this board stand out is the little 1/4 silicone feet that let airflow underneath the board, minimizing moisture and prevents it from moving while you work.
At $99.95, this board is expensive, but it is still on the affordable end when compared to other hardwood boards, and it provides a large amount of space for prepping. This board also comes preseasoned with food-safe mineral oil and beeswax.
- Feet to prevent slipping
- Not 100% maple
John Boos is a brand that was established in 1887 in Illinois, where they began creating stunning chopping boards using traditional methods. To this day, they are a prominent and popular brand that boasts products of the highest quality. On top of that, they are committed to protecting the environment by maintaining strict air quality control and recycling 95% of their raw materials, scraps, or sawdust.
The board is 20x15x2.25″ and weighs a hefty 19.6lb. It is made from Northern Hard Rock maple, which is widely recognized as a high-quality and durable timber as well as being sustainable. This $139.95 reversible board is used the world over by professional chefs, which proves its pedigree and high quality.
This is a very expensive board, but for a hunk of wood of this size, it is to be expected. When you buy from a brand like this, you are also paying for the name and the pedigree, so it is up to you if you think these factors warrant the jump in price.
- Eco-friendly company
- Well established brand
This Kisote board has a large workspace that is made up of small, rectangular blocks to create a beautiful tapestry of patterns running in horizontal strips across the board.
Made from sustainably sourced maple, this board measures 20x16x1.5\” and is ideal for butchery, veggie prep, and presentation. A few features that make this stand out are its small silicone feet that keep the board in place while you work and the stainless steel hand fitted on either side that helps you move it around with ease.
This board sells for $149.95, so it is a considerable investment. The John Boos is $10 cheaper and is far more appealing and from a brand with a rich history so that one might be the better choice within this price bracket.
- Very large
- Silicone feet
To round out our selections, we have another offering from John Boos, this time in circular form. Like the rest of this brand’s boards, this one is made from sustainably sourced Northern Hard Rock Maple. This is great if you want something a little different from the regular rectangular board and is great for the presentation of food like cheese plates and charcuterie boards.
Weighing in at 21.5lb, this board is 18″ in diameter and 3″ thick, so it is a considerable size and will definitely not move while you work. Due to its size, this board has a pair of ergonomic, stainless steel handles fixed on each side to make this behemoth easier to move around.
John Boos also has their own oil brand available for maintaining your board that you can buy alongside your cutting board.
At $245, this board is incredibly expensive. There are many other boards made from this same material that are far cheaper and only a fraction thinner.
- Very expensive
- Not reversible
Best For Large Scale Meat Butchery
The best board in this selection for large-scale meat butchery is the Kisote Maple cutting board. It has a large workspace and little feet underneath that will prevent this board from moving while you work. Both of these factors are very important because it keeps you safe while handling sharp knives and heavy cuts of meat. It is expensive, but if you take your butchery seriously and want to invest in a board that will last you a lifetime.
Best Value for Budget
If you are on a budget, your best bet is the Mevell Premium End Grain cutting board. $89.99 can seem like a steep price, but in comparison to other end grain, hardwood boards, this is a steal! It is very visually appealing and will look great on your countertop or on a serving table. It also has useful features like the handles and juice canal that make working with this board simple and clean. You get a lot for what you pay for with this design, so you can’t go wrong with this choice.
Answer: Even though hardwood boards are hardwearing, they do need to be maintained regularly. You can do this by wiping down your board and making sure it is clean and dry. Then you will need a dry cloth and food-safe mineral oil. Pour a small measure of oil onto the board and spread out evenly with a cloth. Allow the oil to soak in, and then repeat the process. If your board is reversible, wait a day before repeating this on the other side to prevent staining your countertop. For more intense resurfacing, especially if somehow you have nicks or scratches on the surface, you can sand the board down with medium-grade sandpaper and then move to a finer grade to finish it off. After that, you can repeat the oiling process to seal it right up.
Answer: It is very important that you never submerge your cutting board in water as this will cause it to warp and allow for potential bacteria growth, so you should avoid cleaning your board in the sink. Begin by scraping any food debris from the surface with a flat spatula. Then you can soap the surface with dishwashing soap and hot water. Be sure to dry thoroughly after cleaning.
Answer: Wooden cutting boards are superior to plastic in many different ways. Firstly the surface is softer, especially end grain, so it is more forgiving on your knives so they will stay sharper for longer. Secondly is that the wooden board will not pollute your food with any microplastics. Every time you cut on a plastic cutting board, tiny microplastics are transferred from the board into your food and, therefore, into your system. So overall, these wooden boards are more efficient and healthier in the long run.
Maple is a timber that is absolutely physically beautiful, as well as having all the features of a good hardwood that makes it ideal as a cutting board material. There are many ways to obtain sustainably sourced maple so you can have a stunning hardwood board without feeling guilty.
At the end of the day, the board that I would recommend overall is the John Boos Reversible Butcher’s block. It is in the middle of the pack price-wise and comes from a brand with a great history and reputation in this area. It is very thick, heavy, and has a large space to work with. It is also great for butchery and is reversible for the utmost convenience.