The thought of mahogany brings to mind extravagant wood, generally seen in expensive furniture or storage drawers. Its distinctive grain, feel, and shade make it perfect for a lot of woodworking and craft assignments. Is it equipped with the features that make it a suitable material for cutting boards?
Mahogany is not as hard as hardwoods such as maple, which has a hardness rating of 1450 lbs on the Janka hardness test, and walnut, which has a measurement of 1010 lbs. Its score on the Janka test is from 800 to 850 lbs. Mahogany is not the best choice when it comes to cutting boards because its softness makes it more prone to knife markings.
Additionally, this type of wood is porous and can trap food debris as well as bacteria.
But the Janka hardness evaluation is not the only aspect of mahogany. This piece looks closely at the wood qualities of mahogany to determine if it is suitable to be used for cutting boards. We are going to investigate the cleanliness, solidity, and strength of the wood and then compare it to other types of wood such as maple in order to come to a final decision.
What is Mahogany Wood?
Mahogany is a type of hardwood tree in the Swietenia genus that grows in tropical climates. There are three varieties of Swietenia that are typically referred to as “true mahogany”. These are Honduran mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla), which originates from the southern Mexico area and northern Central America; Cuban mahogany (Swietenia mahagoni) native to Cuba, Jamaica, and Hispaniola; and West Indian mahogany (Swietenia humilis) found in the Florida Everglades and other Caribbean isles.
Mahogany is highly desired for its aesthetic appeal, its easy-to-manipulate nature, and its longevity. The center of a mahogany tree is usually a pale pinkish-brown to pale reddish-brown in color, and the outer layers are a light yellowish hue. Certain varieties of mahogany wood may have a reddish or purple color.
People highly value mahogany wood because of its attractive appearance, ability to be formed into any shape, and strength. The core of a mahogany tree is generally a pinkish-brown to a pale reddish-brown in color, and its perimeter is usually a bright yellow. Some varieties of mahogany wood may have a reddish-brown or purple tinge.
In addition to the so-called “genuine mahogany” species, African Mahogany (Khaya spp.), which is native to Africa and is broadly accepted as being similar to the “genuine mahoganies,” are also considered mahogany. Other species of woods have uncertain classification as mahogany, including Entandrophragma, Turraeanthus, and Guarea.
What to Look for in Wood for a Cutting Board
Whether you’re making a cutting board or buying one, there are some factors you should be careful about:
Hardwood vs. Softwood
The efficiency of the cutting board is mainly determined by the kind of wood it is made of. Woods of varying varieties exhibit unique characteristics, each appealing in its own special way.
There is a distinct difference between hardwoods and softwoods in the fact that the former has a denser grain composition and is thus harder, whereas the latter has greater spacing between its fibers and is softer. Hardwoods have a higher density than softwoods, providing them with more durability and resistance to scratching and denting. The reason why most chopping boards are constructed from hardwood trees, not softwood trees, is the primary explanation.
Some examples of hardwoods:
Some examples of softwoods:
- Red cedar
It is not adequate to pick a cutting board made of hardwood; you must also verify the extent of its hardness. The greater the solidity of the wood, the more it is able to withstand scrapes, bruises, and cuts by knives.
What is the best way to determine the hardness of the wood?
The Janka scale can be used to measure the density of a wood by the amount of pressure (pounds force) it takes to impose on it. The Janka scale ranks the density of the wood according to how much force is needed to push a metal ball into it; the more difficult it is to penetrate, the higher the ranking. You can verify the hardness of the wood by looking at the Janka hardness scale.
Keep in mind, particularly tough wood may be a bit of an issue. For example, a cutting board made out of Brazilian walnut may work against you as this is an extremely tough type of wood, which means that it can damage or blunt the blade of a knife. Furthermore, a cutting board will cost a lot of money.
Wood’s ability to absorb liquids can be a major factor in maintaining food hygiene. How?
Before we go into the topic of kitchen cleansing, let us consider porous timbers initially. There are mainly three types of hardwood:
- Ring porous
- Semi-diffuse porous
- Diffuse porous
Typically, hardwoods are referred to as having an open-pored structure (ring-porous) or a closed-pored structure (diffuse-porous). Woods that have wide, visible growth rings tend to be very porous, making them highly susceptible to absorbing moisture and retaining germs, resulting in excess water. Alternatively, wood with tight grains have minuscule pores that prevent liquids or bacteria from getting into the surface and resulting in mildew forming, wood bending, or staining. The tighter the pores, the more hygienic the material.
Different species of hardwood have differing levels of porosity, meaning not every hardwood is fit to be used as a cutting board. Oak is a popular hardwood for building with. However, not many cutting boards are produced using it. Oak is a type of wood that has an open texture, making it more likely to become infected with bacteria or mildew than other woods. In the same vein, cutting boards are often constructed of maple, cherry, walnut, teak, and other types of closed-grain woods.
You must take into account the degree of toxicity associated with particular varieties of wood. If you are constructing your own cutting board, it is important to make sure that it is not hazardous to eat off of. Oils, resin, and the toxicity of the wood all have the potential to be transferred onto the food, causing irritation, sensitization, and in some cases poisoning.
You should go for types of wood that produce consumable fruits, nuts, and foliage. It is best not to use rare or foreign woods when making a cutting board. Rosewood and purpleheart are good examples of this. Both types of wood possess a rich, alluring hue with a tough exterior, though there is a potential for harmful toxins from the wood to contaminate the food placed on the cutting board.
It is important to keep in mind that using reclaimed lumber is not a safe option. At times, wood obtained from old barns, factories, fences, warehouses, and so on, is recycled and repurposed for something else. There is a risk of poisoning, as it can be difficult to determine whether or not the wood has been contaminated by hazardous chemicals. I don’t use reclaimed lumber to make cutting boards, so that’s my reasoning.
Using food-grade mineral oil on wood cutting boards can reduce the chance of food becoming contaminated. Conditioning helps to stop wood from shrinking, warping, or splitting when the weather changes.
At the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), a poll was administered that revealed that 18 percent of the cutting boards tested registered with dangerous microorganisms like Salmonella and E. coli. And you definitely don’t want that! It is important to properly clean and disinfect your cutting board to prevent bacteria from growing on it. Additionally, make sure to condition it every three months after cleaning it to maintain its effectiveness.
The beauty of mahogany is undeniable. The wood possesses an aesthetic attraction and a cozy shade that gives a singular sensation to any item of furniture. The warm, reddish-brown shade of the item will go nicely with many kitchen designs and pieces of furniture, making it a perfect addition to your kitchen. The individual grains of the material can be easily seen, resulting in a distinctive design on the chopping board.
This is why many people opt for mahogany when selecting cutting boards for decoration, for instance for serving charcuterie or cheese. Nevertheless, more advantageous alternatives for cutting boards that will last and be useful to you while cooking also exist.
Price should be taken into account when selecting cutting boards. Mahogany is more costly than some of the other possibilities that are available. Furthermore, it does not have the same degree of accessibility that other trees such as maple or walnut possess. It may be a worthwhile endeavor if you are able to obtain mahogany at an affordable rate and prioritize appearance when selecting your cutting board.
End Grain vs. Edge Grain
This is something that should be thought about when building. Typically, there are two types of cutting board construction:
- In edge grain construction, the wood is cut lengthwise and the cutting board has a simple design. As they are cheaper than end grain cutting boards, most people use edge grain boards for regular kitchen use. Even though they can dull your knife faster than using end grain boards.
- On the contrary, end grain construction has horizontally cut different woods fused together. As the end grain is exposed, the knives run against the end of the fibers instead of across. This way, there’s less chance of splitting and scarring from repeated use.
End grain cutting boards have a very pleasing aesthetic, providing a checkerboard-like appearance. This process of combining pieces of wood together requires the use of an adhesive or other binding material that may not be edible. You will have to spend more money if you want to utilize the highest quality woods for your end grain chopping board.
When it comes to cutting boards, cleanliness is paramount. You are searching for a substance that will not draw in fluids or juices and become a location for germs to grow. Unfortunately, mahogany falls short in this category. The grain of the wood is not close together, allowing bacteria and other contaminants to easily enter the porous surface.
It is possible for bits of food to get into the tiny holes in food-prep surfaces and be tough to take out, increasing the chance of food poisoning. It is important to make sure to clean and sanitize the mahogany if you choose it for a chopping board.
Mahogany vs. Other Wood
Mahogany vs. maple
Maple is a hardwood, with a Janka Hardness score of 1,450 lbs, which is more than that of mahogany. Maple is a great choice for a cutting board because its tough qualities reduce the visibility of scratches and its dense texture makes it more hygienic than mahogany. Maple is a robust option due to its tightly-wound fibers.
Mahogany vs. walnut
Walnut is a type of hardwood that has a Janka hardness level rating of 1,010 lbs. This material is tougher than mahogany, therefore it is more resilient to any types of scratches and dents.
Walnut has a tighter grain pattern, making it cleaner than mahogany. Walnut may cost more than mahogany, but it will stand the test of time, making it an economically advantageous purchase.
Mahogany vs. acacia
Acacia is one type of wood that has a Janka rating of between 1,500 to 2,000 lbs, which is more challenging than mahogany but not as firm as maple and walnut. The wood does not decompose easily and its tight-grained surface makes it cleaner than mahogany.
Although acacia is not as attractive as mahogany, it is an economical option and a great pick for chopping blocks.
Mahogany vs. teak
Teak is a type of hardwood that is well-known for its water resistance properties. Its abundance of natural oils renders it impervious to bacteria, unlike mahogany.
Mahogany is not as resilient as this material, as it has a high level of hardness, thus being less prone to scratches and dents. The grain pattern is so close together that it blocks any water from getting through.
Mahogany vs. bamboo
Bamboo is not wood but grass. Many people opt for it as a cutting board due to its affordability and eco-friendliness. Bamboo has a Janka hardness between 1,380 and 4,000 lbs, making it much tougher than mahogany.
Due to it being a type of grass, it has veins instead of tiny grains, making it much cleaner than mahogany.
Furthermore, bamboo has a natural antibacterial quality, so it is unlikely to be contaminated with bacteria.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use African mahogany for a cutting board?
You are able to employ African mahogany for a chopping board. The wooden board is strong and visually appealing, perfect for making a statement in your kitchen.
Is mahogany food Safe?
The grain of African mahogany is open and its pores are sizeable, making it possible for food particles to become lodged within the chopping board. Although it is a hardwood, it does not create any harmful substances and is therefore secure to utilize. There is virtually no danger of contamination occurring if your chopping board is made with only natural, edible materials.
What do you use mahogany for?
It is a common material for multiple types of construction such as furniture making, boat manufacture, flooring, decoration, veneer production, window frames, musical instruments, and so on. Previously, it was often implemented in making dugout canoes, while its healing attributes make it extremely useful in traditional practices of medical care.
Is mahogany hardwood?
African mahogany is one type of mahogany wood. African mahogany is classified as a hardwood tree since it comes under the hardwood tree category.