Most of us like to have everything handy when we cook. We prepare or ‘prep’ everything beforehand and make sure that everything we need is within reach. We pride ourselves on our organizational skills and are happy that we have a smooth time in the kitchen. But more often than not, we run the risk of having an accident simply because we do not exactly know how to handle our kitchen tools and appliances properly.
Come to think of it, do we really know how to handle and wield a knife in the correct way? Do we know how to properly slice, dice, mince, peel, and chop? Chances are – we don’t. You may think you have a good idea of how to do these tasks, but you’d be surprised. This is why it’s important to learn the basics and to get to know a few simple rules for handling your knives.
Chef knives must be handled in the proper way to maximise their use
Gripping the knife
When gripping your knife, you should grip the blade’s spine between your thumb and forefinger above the heel and near the bolster. Wrap your hand securely around the handle. This is a technique called the pinch, and it allows you to make precise cuts and control the blade properly. It also reduces the risk of you accidentally injuring the tips of your fingers.
When peeling, you should hold the fruit’s bottom in one hand, and wrap your free hand around the paring knife’s handle. Put your thumb on the fruit’s bottom which is closest to you, and guide the blade slowly through the fruit’s skin, moving towards your thumb. Remember to keep the knife’s cutting edge below the layer of skin you are removing.
In mincing fruit or vegetables, make sure your hand is flat, with your fingertips placed on the knife’s spine at the tip. With this, you can use the tip as a kind of pivot point for the knife’s blade, allowing you to quickly and expertly mince different types of ingredients with ease.
Chopping, dicing, and slicing
With this, you should guide the knife with your other hand while keeping your fingers curled towards you. The knife’s blade should be resting against your knuckles, which will then give you more control over the size of your cuts. When cutting, slide the knife in a sawing motion either towards you or away from you. This sawing motion lets your knife naturally fall into the food you are cutting, making it easier to cut without too much effort.
Additional knife tips for bread and cakes
When it comes to cutting bread and cakes horizontally, do not put your hand on the side of the bread or cake and then cut towards it. This is a common mistake. Instead, place your hand flat at the top of the bread or cake then move the knife through the bread with a slow sawing motion. If you are cutting vertically, make sure your hand is on top of the bread and next to the portion you are cutting, with your fingers well out of the way.
With these knife techniques, you can be quicker and more efficient in your kitchen, and you will be safer as well. When it comes to choosing chef knives and other basic tools, always buy the best quality there is, as they are built more sturdily and are easier to use.