Wooden chopping boards are safe to use if cared for properly.
Wooden chopping boards are safe to use if cared for properly. Photo: Marina Oliphant

Richard Cornish

Is it hygienic to use a wooden chopping board for my meat? G. Eckersley

A few years back, after being the cutting surface for millennia, wood was banished by health authorities as being unhygienic as Satan's cellulose playground for lethal bacteria. Butchers' wooden chopping blocks, worn uneven by generations of chop-chopping, were turfed onto the median strip like analog TVs when digital telly came in.

Thank goodness common sense has prevailed and now butchers are allowed to use wooden chopping boards again.

If you want to use a wooden chopping board, look for a fine-grained board made from hard wood. According to tests done by the CSIRO, ''after a short period of time, fewer bacteria have been recovered from these (wooden) boards than from identically treated plastic ones''.

BUT! Treat your wooden board carefully as nicks and grooves will prove a haven for bacteria. Wash your board after it touches any sort of raw meat, even if chopping one sort of raw meat then another as this can lead to cross contamination. Wash and dry the board thoroughly after use.

Some chefs I know cover their wooden chopping boards with salt overnight to kill any bugs.

I hate the idea of hurting animals. What is the most humane way of killing a lobster? V. Ho

If you truly hate the idea of hurting an animal then the most humane way of killing a lobster is to leave it alone and let it die an old age. Some would argue that since most wild lobsters are eaten alive by other denizens of the deep then perhaps a humane death by a human is preferable. In this situation we are the animals with options. One is abstinence. Another is choosing a humane death for another creature. The RSPCA recommends lobsters are rendered insensible by placing them in a refrigerator or freezer below 4C. The lobster will become limp. The RSPCA then recommends splitting the lobster in half lengthways using a strong, sharp knife. It does not condone separating the tail from the body to kill it, or dropping a live lobster, albeit insensible, into boiling water.

My pizza dough is soggy. What have I done wrong? V. Whitten

Assuming you have made the dough correctly and you are baking it at the correct temperature, try these tips. Bake the pizza on a pizza stone that has been preheated in the oven. You can use a terracotta tile or even a (cleaned) basalt paver. Do not overload the dough with moist items. You will note mushrooms are generally placed on pizza by the professionals last so they can lose their water through evaporation, not by oozing it into the dough.

If you have a query email brainfood@richardcornish.com.au