Knives are an essential kitchen tool, so we all need to know how to use a knife like a pro. When we use these implements properly, they make prep, cooking, and serving efficient and straightforward. However, if improperly handled, they are dangerous; incorrect use damages the knife, the kitchen features, and leads to potential injury.
Thankfully, we have compiled the essential information to turn you into a knife expert. Cut through the nonsense with these simple tips and tricks for an optimal slicing experience.
Proper Knife for the Job
One of the most important steps to proper knife-wielding is identifying the correct knife for the task at hand. Here is a breakdown of some essential kitchen knives:
This knife is general-purpose and overall efficient. When in doubt, this is the knife to use. The blade is longer than the handle and angles upward to a point. Specific sizes range, though the metal part will almost never be less than six inches long. Use this for difficult cutting tasks such as dense fruits.
Use this knife to separate bone from meat. Whether you are dealing with fish or chicken (or another type of meat), this is the proper tool to get these two tissues apart. The blade is small and sharply angled upward.
These are handy tools that look just like they sound. The serrated part shows like a saw, leaving this tool easy to identify. The jagged edges slice through bread without pressing down and cut through fleshy veggies and fruits like tomatoes. Avoid pressing down on food with this handy tool.
Knives of this sort are generally small and sharp. Use this tool to do all peeling tasks. Remove the exterior of potatoes and apples with efficient ease. While this item can cut through other foodstuffs, it stays sharpest when used for its exact purpose.
This useful tool is one of the items that is used on cooked food as well as raw. For best results, keep to the namesake. Use this knife to cut through cooked meats once served.
Similar to the broad blade, there are small indents along with the metal of the knife. This tool is best when cutting vegetables and fruits. Implement the item when dicing and mincing your vegetables. This tool is ideal for preparation before cooking.
Maintaining your Tools
Knives are wonderful tools. They are essential for taking the whole and breaking it into smaller, maneuverable pieces. That said, unless properly maintained, they will damage and decay quickly.
It is imperative to always clean your knife after use. If you know that it will take some time to get to the dishes, wipe off the surface with a towel. Properly wash down the surface and the handle with soapy water. Rinse thoroughly every time.
While many knives are ceramic, the larger amount of them is metal. This means that they are subject to rust and corrosion. It goes without saying that once rust takes hold, the knife is no longer valuable. Prevent this by drying the item thoroughly after use each and every time.
Stay safe by properly storing your knives. Most often, this is in a knife block. If you do not use this tool, find a special part for us to isolate them from other tools. Always keep the blade facing inwards so that your hand does not contact the blade.
This step is absolutely essential to proper knife handling. There is no use for a dull knife. In fact, it is dangerous to use a blunted blade. In your knife drawer (or beside your knife block), keep a high-quality knife sharpener. There are different types, from metal to stone. Find the one that works best for your individual needs.
Sharpen your knives regularly. Each time you go to use these utility instruments, check if they are sharp. If not, spend a few minutes bringing them up to par. This will make a huge difference in cooking quality and ease of use.
Using the Knife
Now that you know what knife to use for which purpose, and how to properly maintain these tools, it is time to move on to handling. The first step is to identify your dominant hand. Are you right-handed? Or left? Figure out which of your hands has the proper level of focus and strength. When it comes down to it, the best hand is that with more control rather than strength. Ultimately, a sharp, high-quality knife will manage the need for force.
Once you are set up (you have the item to cut and proper knife), it is time to grip the tool. Take your dominant hand and grab the handle. Ensure that you are holding the blade at the correct angle. You should be able to move the knife with your arm, not your wrist. Your hand and the grip it holds on the knife must stay firmly in place. Lock your wrist in place when holding the blade. Before you begin cutting, ensure that you have a firm, correct grip on the tool.
Now that you have a grip on your knife, use your other hand to place the food item in front of the blade. Use this hand to hold steady the item you plan to cut. Keep your thumb inwards to avoid the blade altogether (this will prevent injury). Depending on the knife and what you are cutting, the motion will differ.
- Serrated Knives: Use a sawing motion. Do not apply downward pressure.
- Boning Knives: Use firm, lightweight motions directed away from you.
- Vegetable Knives: Angle the point downward and lower, firmly the back of the knife to make a clean cut. Repeat the process slowly, adding speed as you grow more comfortable.
- Paring Knife: Hold the item in your hand; and, using your thumb to direct the blade, slice between the peel and the flesh. Repeat this process until you have removed the peel.
Now you know the tricks of the knife-wielding trade. Use these tips to ensure that you have a positive experience handling these utility instruments. Ultimately, the best way to gain expertise is through diligent practice. Keep up with proper maintenance and always make sure that you sharpen your blade.
Safety must be your key focus when handling knives. So long as you use the right tool for the job and ensure that you have a firm grip on the item, your experience cutting and slicing will be ideal.