Knowing how to properly use a knife is essential for minimizing the risk of injury to yourself and others in the kitchen. There are different knives that are used for different jobs, therefore it is important to understand the purpose of each to work as safely and efficiently as possible. Using the right knife for the job also increases the quality of your knife cuts. If you are a beginner or need a refresher on how to appropriately use a knife, we cover eight helpful tips to practice knife safety in the kitchen.
Always Hold Knives by the Handle
A knife should always be used by the handle when cutting to prevent the blade from slipping. If handing a knife to someone, place the knife down on a surface to allow the other person to pick it up by the handle.
Ensure That Fingers are Tucked
Use your non-dominant hand to form into a bear-claw position, while cutting with your dominant hand. This keeps your fingers out of the way while cutting. Take your time, and remain focused on what you are cutting. Additional resources on how to use the bear-claw technique can be found below.
Choose the Appropriate Knife for the Job
Knives are made in different styles, shapes, and sizes. When cutting different foods, it is important to consider the blade size, blade edge, and flexibility of the knife to perform the job. This is to avoid any risk of challenges, or injuries when using the incorrect knife. For example, a serrated edge knife is most useful for cutting foods with tough exteriors such as a pineapple More information on different types of knives and there functions can be found here, https://www.escoffier.edu/blog/culinary-arts/different-knives-and-the-best-uses-for-each/
Cut on a Stable Cutting Board
Cutting boards should be dry and non-slip. To prevent a cutting board from sliding, place a damp kitchen towel or rubber mat underneath the board. An unstable cutting board can increase risk of slipping, and result in injuries. Cutting boards made of wood, plastic, or polyethylene material are safer to use, and knife-friendly.
Cut Away from Yourself
A knife should be used in a gentle motion in the direction away from your body; not towards you. Reposition foods at a different angle when necessary to avoid cutting towards your direction.
Keep Knives Sharp; Avoid Cutting with Dull Knives
Forcing a dull knife through foods may result in higher risk of injury. A sharp knife is also essential for producing precise cuts and for working more efficiently. Avoid using your knife to cut items other than food, which can also dull, or damage your knife. Tools such as a knife sharpener or sharpening stone can be used to sharpen a knife. Meanwhile, a honing rod is used to straighten the blade of a knife, and maintain its shape for easier cutting
Knives Should be Carried Pointing Downwards
Hold a knife at your side slightly away from your body with the tip pointed straight down. This arm position should be firm to avoid hurting yourself or others around you.
Never Place a Knife in a Sink Full of Soapy Water
It can be difficult to see a knife in soapy water. A person may place their hand in the sink accidently cutting themselves. Therefore, it is best to hand-wash a knife immediately after use, and store it where it can be seen or in an area labeled for knives. Knives that are left soaking in water, may also result in rust of the blade.
Refer to LHA’s Basic Knife Skills video for more information, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBzyomj3al8