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What is so Special about Silicone Cutting Boards
Silicone cutting boards are a type of cutting board made from silicone, a synthetic rubber that is heat-resistant and flexible. Known to be non-porous, they will not absorb bacteria or moisture. Silicone cutting boards are often used in commercial kitchens because they are easy to clean and disinfect.
They are also more durable than many other cutting boards and less likely to crack or chip. Silicone cutting boards come in a variety of colors, so you can choose one that matches your kitchen décor. Most silicone cutting boards are dishwasher-safe, making them even easier to clean. So why doesn’t everyone just use silicone cutting boards? Read on to learn the pros and cons of these versatile cutting mats.
The Pros of Silicone Cutting Boards include:
They are made of food-grade silicone, BPA-free, and considered safe for most applications.
As such they are GRAF- generally regarded as safe. However, please note the temperature range. Above or below that and the safety is not guaranteed. In fact, the FDA allows it for commercial use, as well.
Most silicone cutting mats withstand temperatures between -40°F to 500°F.
As such, they prove to be much more durable than cheaper plastic cutting boards. But, as noted above, you need to use them within the given temperature range.
Silicone won’t dull your knife blades like marble, stone, glass, and even plastic can.
It provides a cushioned surface that actually protects your knives. And with the current prices on knives, this makes a big difference.
These mats are quite flexible.
Chop your onion, then fold the mat to use it to carry to your pan. The silicone can be formed into a chute or a funnel, reducing food spillage.
With a non-porous surface, silicone cutting boards resist bacteria and scratches.
They are easy to clean and sanitize; many can be put right in the dishwasher.
Due to their silicone components, they are easy to maintain.
Just clean them after each use. To sanitize, put them in boiling water or in your dishwasher. Some people use their microwave to sterilize them.
The silicone material tends to be non-slip.
It grips the countertop surface and stays in place. To make it even less likely to move, just add a wet paper towel or dishcloth under it.
They are available in a wide variety of colors.
Use them to color code the foods you use on them or just to brighten up your kitchen.
Lightweight and easy to store are two of our favorite features.
Some even come with a hole to allow you to hang them if you choose. Or roll them up and store them away until you need them again. They also travel easily to the church buffet or family gathering.
These silicone cutting mats offer a long life helping in the kitchen.
They are scratch resistant, don’t lose their shape, and don’t easily crack or tear. In fact, the ones I’ve had for several years still look new.
But what about the cons of Silicone Cutting Boards?
Nothing is perfect and we have a few concerns about the silicone cutting mats.
First, prepare for a plastic-like smell as you open the package.
And this doesn’t leave quickly. You will need to wash it thoroughly in soap and water, possibly several times, to remove the odor.
You might cut into the surface.
This might happen when cutting harder vegetables, creating a knife mark. While this should still be safe to use, it mars the appearance.
The mat’s flexibility is useful, but…
it can create problems for some who are used to a more solid board. Some older adults find it harder due to arthritis, although some prefer its lighter weight.
These silicone mats are prone to stains.
While that doesn’t affect the performance and use, it does detract from the appearance.
Be aware of the food odors.
These boards often retain strong odors from food that you cut on them. Think of onions and garlic. Again, that won’t affect the performance, but it might affect the order than you cut your food.
Our Family’s Experience with Silicone Cutting Boards
I was given a pack of these a few years ago. Being a fan of wooden cutting boards, I wasn’t too sure I’d find any use for them. But I was wrong.
Not long after, I invested in another package of them. With a big family, we often gather in the kitchen to prepare dinner together. Giving each person a silicone cutting mat, a knife, and the food they will prepare makes dinner prep go much faster.
I don’t use a dishwasher. That’s another story but suffice it to say that with a large family, it would often take more than one load for dinner dishes. Bring on the commercial Hobart model and I’m all in!
And I don’t like microwaves. But I do know how to wash and sterilize items. So I am able to keep these silicone cutting mats clean and fresh.
Another type of silicone mat
We actually have two styles. The cutting board style described in this article and what I call my baking mat.
The baking mat is also silicone but a thinner cut. It stays rolled up until baking day, then it becomes one of the star performers. My baking mat has measurements on it and a diagram in the middle with pie diameters shown. These make rolling out pastry extra easy.
We use the baking mat for bread shaping, cookie and biscuit rolling and cutting, and any other baking type project. It gets a lot of use.
When we finish the day, cleaning up and putting away for our next baking day is easy. In fact, most of the excess flour and dry ingredients stay on the baking mat and are carried to the compost bin.
These baking mats are not expensive and take so little space in the kitchen between uses. I highly recommend keeping one, even if you only bake occasionally. The one I have is the Zching Silicone Pastry Mat.
One word of caution. I don’t recommend using this as a cutting mat for chopping vegetables. While I do use my silicone dough knife, I don’t use regular knives on my baking mat. The surface is much different and the mat is thinner. This mat, though also silicone, is not intended as a chopping board.
Have they replaced my wooden cutting boards?
No, and they never will. Those wooden cutting boards serve important functions that silicone cutting boards cannot do. I rely on them every day.
But for the quick-cutting jobs and for the family helping times, our silicone mats get plenty of use.
Are Silicone Cutting Boards Worth Buying?
Silicone cutting boards offer a convenient, versatile, knife-friendly option. And they help avoid cross-contamination, too. We recommend having several of them handy and using them for different purposes.
No need to worry about seasoning with oil or a complicated sanitization process. They clean and sterilize easily. And for those who like to color up their kitchen, they offer a splash of colors to choose from. Most find them aesthetically pleasing, and they might enhance the look of your kitchen.
However, don’t expect these boards to last forever. You need to replace them with new ones occasionally. They will get cut marks over time. But this means that your knives are sharp and safe.
Note: the replacement is a concern of mine. Silicone does not break down easily and so adds to our pollution problem. You might consider repurposing your used mats. They look great under those planters in your sunroom!
A Word of Caution When Selecting a Silicone Cutting Board
If you search for a silicone cutting board or silicone cutting mat, you’ll find many choices. However, read the description carefully.
Many options that show up on these searches are actually cheap plastic mats, not silicone. And the differences are worth noting.
- Yes, plastic mats are cheaper.
- They usually come in very bright, vibrant colors
- They are a thinner material and will not stand up to any amount of usage
- Plastic is not intended for a cutting surface. It will dull your knives and is easily cut into.
- They will not stand up to extreme temperatures.
- There is concern about materials leaking into foods.
To be safe, be sure the material your cutting board is made from is FOOD GRADE SILICONE.
I think that a good choice is to have a traditional wooden board for major cutting jobs. Then, in addition, have multiple silicone cutting boards to deal with different types of food, share your kitchen prep, and ensure a safe food preparation environment. This way you enjoy the best of both worlds.