Do you want to decrease the amount of time it takes to prepare dinner? Do you ever get nervous that you’ll cut yourself when you use a really sharp knife? Good knife skills can decrease food prep time and increase your chopping confidence!
It’s really quite simple. As long as they are sharp, you only need three types of knives in your kitchen:
- bread knife
- paring knife
- chef’s knife
A bread knife is serrated with jagged edges and is used when a sawing method is necessary. Use this knife when you are cutting bread or vegetables with tougher skins to penetrate, such as tomatoes.
A paring knife will be used to trim vegetables and fruits. Typically, this knife is only 2-4” long. It is better for small vegetables that don’t require much chopping.
A chef’s knife is used for 99% of chopping. It is 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. Your knife should also be 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 very high quality and durable. Before you decide which knife to buy, 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 smooth and even.
When cleaning your knives, soak them in hot, soapy water. Dry them thoroughly between tasks and after you are finished cooking to prevent cross contamination. Never put good knives in the dishwasher. The edges can become damaged form the posting and extreme temperature inside a dishwasher. 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 sharp blades by storing knives the proper way. You can keep them in a knife block made specifically for storing knives or in a sheath in a drawer with other utensils.
To keep your 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.
When using a sharp knife, always remember to hold your 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. With a good grip on the knife, your other hand needs to know what to do. 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 control. Don’t worry, practice makes perfect. Go slow at first, paying close attention to proper form. Soon you’ll be chopping with confidence!
Click here to watch some knife skills in action.
Now it’s time to practice. Give Vegetable Almond Fried Rice a try.