The kitchen may be the heart of the home, but it’s also a pretty chaotic place. Whether you’re trying to slice veggies for a stew or chopping meat for the grill, knife injuries are nothing to overlook—especially with 350,000 happening per year.
It’s no wonder that when you want to enhance your chef skills, learning to use a knife may seem a little intimidating. After all, how do you start chopping food like a pro without accidentally losing a finger? If you’re ready to safely bring your skills to the next level, here’s what you should know.
1. Get the Right Tools
Before you start honing your skills, it’s important to grab the right tool for the job. Beyond better-quality cuts, a sharp knife is also less likely to cause injury than a dull one! Quality kitchen knives can make all the difference when you’re slicing and chopping, so be prepared to invest a little money.
Most of the time, beginners can get by with a simple chef’s knife, and even budget-conscious home chefs will find that small upgrades make a big difference.
2. Sharpen and Hone
Despite what professional sharpening services would have you believe, you can sharpen and hone your own blades right at home. Doing it well takes a little practice and some simple tools, but staying on top of regular sharpening can keep your fingers safe in the kitchen. In a pinch, you can even sharpen a knife on the bottom of a ceramic mug or bowl.
Don’t forget to also grab a cutting board that doesn’t blunt your knives fast, like a quality bamboo or wood option.
3. Learn to Make the Bear Claw
Using a “bear claw” grip can help you keep your fingers out of harm’s way without sacrificing agility. To make it work, tuck your fingers underneath your knuckles and away from the knife as you chop. This can be hard to remember if you’re just learning basic knife skills, but making it a habit will help you master further chef skills down the line.
4. Plan It Out
It’s tempting to look at chopping ingredients as a mindless, repetitive task. However, the more you chop different foods in the kitchen, the more you’ll realize that each ingredient is unique and needs its own chopping method. chopping an onion, a cut of meat, and a head of lettuce, for example, will require different tactics.
Focus can be one of the best knife skills you possess. Plan out how you aim to chop the food, how to minimize your effort, and what the finished product should look like.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice
If you plan to get good at slicing food with skill, you’ll need to put in the time. The great news, of course, is that you’ll still get delicious meals out of the recipes you’re practicing with! The more comfortable you get with your grip and planning, the greater your control and stability will become—which in turn will improve your skills overall.
Try These Tools for Chopping Food
Now that you understand the most important tips to keep in mind when chopping food, it’s time to take the lessons to the kitchen. As you work to hone your skills, remember that mindfulness and care will take you a long way. Go forth and start chopping!
If you’re looking for more tips to help you make the most of your kitchen, we’ve got you covered. Check out our other posts for the clever insights you need to know!