Cutting boards get greener, and handsomer, everyday. The latest model to cross my countertop is the Architec Cork Cutting Board. According to the company, it’s made of small particles of cork adhered together using heat and pressure, like traditional wine corks.
Cork comes from the bark of oak trees in Spain, Portugal and China, a sustainable and renewable green material, produced with minimal environmental impact. The cork is hand-harvested by gently peeling the bark off the tree, leaving the tree intact and ready to produce again. In the kitchen, cork is naturally antibacterial and easier to clean.
Cork is a wonder of nature. Each cubic inch of cork is made up of over 625 million 14-sided cells. Suberin, a natural substance, makes it impermeable to gases, liquid, dust and odors, and it is naturally fire retardant. Its ability to recover from compression means it doesn’t suffer marring like most woods do, while being gentle on the knife blade.
The Cork Cutting Board can be used for all cutting and carving needs, from fruits to vegetables to raw meats and cooked roasts. Wash by hand with non-antibacterial soap, dry before storing, and season with mineral oil about every ten uses. The Architec Cork Cutting Board comes in two sizes: Large (12 by 18 inches) and Small (9 by 12 inches). A round aluminum insert located in the corner of the board serves as a handle. Suggested retail prices: $29.99 (large), $19.99 (small). They are sold at specialty and online retailers including Crate and Barrel stores and architecproducts.com.
Epicurean’s eco-friendly cutting boards may be a chef or cook’s new best friends, and they’re ultra design-sexy. My first pick: Their brilliantly conceived Modular Sets (they link together like a jigsaw puzzle). I use the two board set that fits together to measure 29×11 inches, which creates a surface that’s extra long but not too wide. It’s great for whole fish or big pieces of meat, or just to have a lot of space for pushing piles of chopped food around. If you want a wider board, they also make a 29×15-inch Modular Set Cutting Surface. But wait, there’s more: one side of the boards is flat and smooth; flip them over and you have a juice groove on one piece, and a juice run (parallel deep grooves, handy for draining liquids into an adjacent sink). From flat to groovy, you can flip the boards into a variety of configurations that fit your specific needs.
They make dozens of other boards, in natural, nutmeg or slate, or nutmeg with slate accents, in all sizes:
*Epicurean Cutting Surfaces 21-by-15-Inch Carving Series*
Some are thin enough to tuck nicely into a drawer, others are thicker, with roast-grabbing details. The Epicurean Carving Series (think turkeys and roasts) looks like art (especially the two-tone version): It’s got a central rhombus studded surface to hold meat in place; an inner canal to trap much of the juice; and an outer juice groove to prevent the rest from pouring onto the countertop. It even fits most dishwashers.
What makes Epicurean’s boards so eco-friendly? Besides being made in the USA from sustainably harvested trees (and being better for sanitary cutting in many ways than traditional wood or plastic boards), they’re made of layers of paper which are soaked in a food-safe resin and cured to create a solid sheet. The layers of paper are bonded with each other to create solid, durable boards, with a handsome warm, natural look. Features: bacteria-resistant, dishwasher-safe (approved by the National Sanitary Foundation/NSF), stain-resistant, and the company itself is dedicated to green initiatives in every phase of the business, from their offices, to their power, to their materials.
Full List of Epicurean Cutting Boards