Have you ever wanted to decrease the amount of time it takes you to prepare dinner? Do you ever get nervous that you’ll cut yourself when you use a really sharp knife? Reviewing good knife skills is a way that you can decrease your food prep time and increase your chopping confidence!
It’s important to note what kind of knives we should have in our kitchens.
It’s really quite simple. As long as they are sharp you’ll only need three types of knives:
- 1 bread knife
- 1 paring knife
- 1 chef’s knife
Your bread knife will be used least of all three. This knife is serrated with jagged edges and is great for when a sawing method is necessary. Use this knife when you are cutting bread or vegetables with tougher skins to penetrate, such as tomatoes.
Your paring knife will be used to trim vegetables and fruits. Typically this knife is only 2-4” long. It’s better for small vegetables that don’t require much chopping.
Your chef’s knife is what you will use for 99% of your chopping. It’s about 8-10” in length. Use this knife when doing general chopping, slicing and dicing.
When purchasing knives.
The blade: should be made of a high-carbon stainless steel. This metal can be honed to a very sharp point and it does not rust, corrode, or discolor.
Full tang: This means the metal runs the full length of the handle, all the way to the end. This ensures that the knife is a very high quality and is durable.
Balanced: hold the knife flat on your finger between the handle and the blade. It should not favor one of the sides but be equal weight on both. This helps to make cuts more smooth and even.
Taking care of your knives.
Soak in hot, soapy water and dry thoroughly between tasks and after you are through cooking to prevent cross contamination.
Never put good knives in the dishwasher, the edges could be damaged by jostling or extreme temperature changes.
Never drop a knife into a sink of soapy water. The blade could become dented or nicked and anyone reaching into the sink could be seriously cut.
Protect the blade by storing your knives in a block made for knives or by keeping a sheath around the knife if stored in a drawer with other utensils.
Keeping knives sharp:
Use only cutting boards that are hard wood, plastic or rubber. Any other types, such as ceramic, glass, and tile are very hard on a knife’s blade and can make it blunt quicker.
Some good things to always remember when using a sharp knife:
Hold you knife with a firm grip. Feel free to hold it closer to the middle portion where the blade meets the handle. Avoid holding it from the back end of the handle because that can make it less controllable. Find a spot on the knife that works best for you. Keep relaxed and loose, your grip should feel natural.
Now that you’ve got a good grip on the knife your other hand needs to know what to do too! Your non-knife hand’s purpose is to guide the knife and keep the food from sliding around the cutting board. Remember to keep your fingers tucked under and let the side of the knife slide against the backs of your fingers.
Whichever way you chose to hold your knife the most important thing is to keep in control. Don’t worry, practice makes perfect. Try to go slow at first, paying close attention to proper form. After no time at all you’ll be chopping with confidence!
Click here to watch some knife skills in action.
Certified Nutrition Education Ambassador