Oh no... not another Kitchen Gadget!
Call it a Gadget, a Cutting Board or Chopping Board, the important thing is it works!
The Cibocal Boards are different, with the addition of a stainless steel bar fixed near the rear edge of the board by means of a pair of support posts. Each post contains a stainless steel spring providing a downward bias on the bar.
The point of a standard Cook or Chef knife is inserted under the biased bar, retaining the knife point in position. The bar moves up and down in the slot in the posts, allowing the knife to move forward, back, up and down, with the point of the knife remaining in contact with the bar at all times.
How's it work?
Think of the knife as a lever and the bar as a pivot. The longer the knife (lever) the less effort required to push the handle of the knife downward, the blade's retained by the bar (pivot). This enables anyone to cut, chop and slice using a minimum of effort and requiring only a light grip on the handle of the knife.
• Easy clean
• Dishwasher safe
• Non porous, will not absorb bacteria
• Mildew resistant
• Stain and odour resistant
• Chemical and acid resistant
• Light weight, easily picked up and carried using the bar
• Use the reverse side of the board by placing over the edge of the bench or sink.
• Will not splinter, chip, swell, twist or crack.
• 'Orange Peel' surface will not dull the knife blade
• Board made from Densetec a HDPE (High Density Polyethylene), FDA approved for food applications.
• Stands up to drain, air dry and for storage.
• Small footprint on bench means it's on hand at any time.
• Includes a Washable Non-Slip Mat to place under the Board
Available in two varieties:
Classic: - Heavy-duty Board, 19.1mm thick.
Lite: - Lighter weight, 12.7mm thick. More suited for those with very limited hand and arm strength.
As an older man suffering from arthritis chopping is more difficult and thus food preparation a more difficult chore than it once was.
The Cibocal Classic Lite chopping board was a good size and it was very easy to figure out how to use it. I found this chopping board really good for chopping up and peeling pumpkin. By keeping the knife blade hard up under the rail and using downward strokes it is easy to peel the skin from the flesh. By cutting the pumpkin into reasonable sized pieces it makes it easy. The bar holding the knife in place keeps the fingers safe from being cut. It is also good for finely chopping herbs such as parsley, coriander etc. I used my large pointed blade kitchen knife and found this perfect.
I think this chopping board would assist those who have arthritis or rheumatism in their hands as I have. It was very comfortable to use and easy to clean. It was easy to store propped up on the beach. Because the bar means that it stays upright the board is thus easy to access as it doesn't need to be stuck between something to keep it upright which can make access difficult with standard chopping boards.
I would think that this would be a useful item for most people however the price is at the upper end of what people might be willing to pay for a chopping board. Given the high cost it might be a useful gift for children or grandchildren to give to an ageing parent/grandparent. Whilst I might expect to see this in a store that stocks products for people with disabilities it would be an advantage for it to be stoked in specialist more high-end kitchen type shops where people expect to buy higher priced kitchen items. I think this is where I would look for it.
Overall I would certainly recommend including this Cibocal chopping board in a repertoire of kitchen gadgets.
Having spent many years flatting solo - thus having the ultimate incentive to learn how to prepare decent food - I really enjoy preparing meals for my family. It's one of many small ways to show your love and appreciation of them. Unfortunately, having also spent many of those same years working on computers in a number of far-from-OSH-approved workstations for various employers, I have very bad RSI/OOS that encompasses my entire arms and shoulders, plus the accompanying neck strains. This means that when Winter rolls around and my circulation gets massively impared, holding a razor-sharp ceramic knife and being confident chopping tough root vegetables is not always possible.
Bring on the Cibocal Classic board - heavy enough to stay where I put it and provide a solid work surface, yet still light enough to carry to where it's needed... although more often than not I end up bringing the frying pan or pot to the board out of habit. To that end, the inclusion of the non-slip mat is invaluable, as I often position the board with the front 5-8cm hanging over the edge of the bench so that I can get the cooking vessel in underneath the edge of the board, and scrape the raw food in, knowing it won't end up on the floor by accident, or a hot frying pan end up burning or blistering the paint of the cupboard doors.
I found the spring-loaded bar to be amazing. Having a long standing interest in the physics of leverage, the concept behind it was immediately clear to me, which made it a very simple matter to become comfortable using it as designed. It was very intuitive, comfortable... and most importantly, effective. Suddenly, I was able to chop even the woodiest of vegetables! Kumara were no longer the nemesis, hard pumpkin-varieties like butternut didn't make me fear for the safety of my fingers... and anyone within 1m of me. The important thing to understand is that a long knife will reduce the amount of force you need to use to cut a carrot or potato, as long as you raise the knife high and push the vegetable as close to the tip as possible.
Though it will never make you into one of those blindingly fast choppers you see on the TV chef shows, it does mean that if you have trouble holding a knife and cutting harder foodstuffs - including frozen meats like sliced bacon or luncheon meat, frozen veges, or in one case I tried, frozen bananas for use in our Yonanas Machine - then you will suddenly discover how much more you can do (again) when you have one of these.
I love the textured HDPE surface, though I did find that while the board is still new, it will slide around on a formica surface if you don't use the non-slip mat included in the package. That may seem a tad obvious really, but HDPE boards will lose that 'frictionless' effect after a while being used, and the mat won't be needed eventually. However, it's also something you need to be aware of when cutting food - it WILL glide out of control if you don't pay FULL attention. It's a mixed blessing for me, as I almost lost a fingertip the first time I used the board. Stay alert... and it will become a bonus. Get distracted, and it could prove decidedly uncomfortable for you.
Now, for hygiene reasons, I prefer to mainly use my ceramic knives from Lassar so I was curious to see how these ceramic blades - quite brittle by nature - would cope with being jammed under a stainless steel spring-loaded holding rod. Simply... brilliantly. The bar didn't cause any noticeable damage to the back edge of the blades, nor did the blades cause any significan't abrasion to the bar - a wonderfully fortunate result for me, as I love both sets of tools now, and they do work very well together.
The design of the boards is simple, and in that lies the secret of their flexibility. When you have the board bar-side up, you have a board that effectively gives you a third hand - one to hold the tip of the knife in place and turn it from a guillotine into a lever. Being able to flip it over and rest it so the bar supports rest against the edge of your bench means you can apply push force against the board and it won't slide away from you, while also having a large work surface. I found that great when preparing wraps for the family. I used the regular side with bar to chop and prepare all the ingredients, gave the board a wipe-down to clean it - one of the great advantages of the HDPE product used to make the boards - and then flipped the board over so I had a larger surface to place hot wraps on for assembly.
My only gripe with this board is the fact I have had to wait so many years for someone clearly smarter than I am to invent it! The design of the board allows it to stand up and support itself, at a slight angle, meaning I don't need to house it behind the kitchen taps - making use of the swivel head awkward and difficult - I can leave it on the bench near it's intended area of use, and see it at a glance. As a suggestion for the next generation of the board - COLOURS! I would love to see this in a nice deep teal, or even in black. Heck, knowing that HDPE can be coloured and textured in many ways, it would be worth paying a premium to have one in black marble-effect even! Best bit - Kiwi designed, Kiwi made.
I have had a tendon removed from my wrist to replace one I tore in my thumb (an accident) and subsequently have issues with both my wrist and lack of ability to pincer grip and hold items with my thumb as well as mobility issues and pain. I was as a result very excited about the possibility of trying out this board to see if it made chopping and thus my daily preparation of food for my family any easier. I also lent the board to some family members one of whom is 85 and finding fine motor movement difficult.
Firstly the board itself comes packaged in a cardboard box with some instructions about caring for the board. It did not however come with instructions or a diagram for use. This would have been useful as some people (such as my 85 year old relative) don't use the internet. If you do however there is video you can watch on the www.cibocal.com website which will explain the principle behind the design of the board and its use.
Because I have difficulty with my grip strength I chose the lite board which was a great choice as the board wasn't too heavy for me to move. The board has a grip mat which you place underneath it and I found this fantastic as with the mat underneath the mat was perfectly solid and I had absolutely no movement whilst using the board. The board itself has a bar connected to the board by two posts which are screwed in. The board is thus very easy to clean and I washed in a sink of soapy water. The way it is designed means it can stand up to dry which I loved. By having the bar as well it meant that I could move the board using the bar thus taking away the issue I often have of losing grip and dropping items.
So to the functionality of the board. I found using this board fantastic. The board works by putting the tip of the knife under the bar and then chopping. The blade under the bar doesn't move and this then means that you are using less effort when chopping as the knife is firmly in place. I found I had far less discomfort in my wrist and I wasn't having to grip my knife as tightly to chop. I definitely had less discomfort in my thumb which often throbs after chopping. I certainly felt a lot safer using this board than my normal chopping board because the knife was held firmly. I used this on fruit, vegetables and meats and found it fantastic for all of these products.
My other testers absolutely loved using this. Mr 85 said it was excellent and he was very impressed. He was delighted at the results and found chopping vegetables and meat finely a lot easier. He really enjoyed having the board (he hasn't yet given it up!) and has found he is enjoying preparing meals using it. Mr 85's wife said she thought it was a fantastic invention and that it made chopping meat and more difficult vegetables like carrots far easier.
Even if you don't have issues with your hands and wrist I think this is a fantastic board to have but if you have even the slightest issues that affect your ability to chop then I would recommend this board. It is expensive but I think the benefits outweigh the cost. Having said that I do think cost would be a factor that might prevent people buying this. Certainly though if your impairments are such that you are unable to chop as you used to this Cibocal chopping board could actually get you back into the kitchen and give you back the ability to chop and prepare food safely. I also think that the quality of this board means that it is one that you will have for a long time as opposed to the cheaper boards that need replacing regularly.
This was definitely one of those times where you think "why didn't someone invent something like this before?" I would be really interested to see as well if this is a product that is able to be subsidized for the elderly or those with impairments through disability, accidents and strokes etc. That would definitely help in affordability of this product.
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