What is end grain? Why choose end grain?
I'm often asked about why one should use an end grain board, so it seems worth explaining!
Should you have expensive, cherished, professional knives, or you find your knives dull quickly with the cutting boards you're using, or you just hate sharpening, end grains are your best choice -
And end grain cutting board is comprised of many smaller pieces of hardwood that are stood up vertically & grafted together, forming one large board. If you were to cut a tree down & look downward at the rings, you would be looking at the "end grain". End grains are beneficial for 3 major reasons.
- When you slide your knife across an end grain, the cutting edge of the blade is cutting into a fibrous material, causing those fibers to separate just slightly, which in turns means less wood comes into contact with the cutting edge - your knives stay sharper, longer.
- As just mentioned, because you're cutting into a fibrous material, the fibers of wood are also able to "self heal" by moving back into position as a blade moves across it - you tend to leave significantly less marks & marring on an end grain board, making it more visually appealing for a longer period of time.
- Peace of mind. Bacteria from raw meats, fish, or poultry are "grabbed" by the fibrous structure on the superficial layer of an end grain cutting board, keeping bacteria from freely moving, and helping to prevent cross contamination. Warm, Soapy water and a light scrub will remove said bacteria, and help to keep your kitchen safe.
Why are they so expensive?
Creating an end grain cutting board requires substantially more wood than its face or edge grain counterpart, which is part of why end grain boards are more expensive. Though, Wood species used will primarily dictate price. As an example, pictured above is an end grain cutting board made of Bocote (Black & White Striped Wood), Zebrawood (Brown & Black Striped Wood), & Maple (White Wood). The average price of Bocote in my area is twice as expensive as Zebrawood, and SIX times more expensive than Maple. End Grains made of domestic woods are less expensive, but will not have the variety of color like exotic woods. On the flip side, exotic woods will look more intricate and colorful, but will come at a higher price.