learning how to cut correctly and safely always should be the number one lesson one should learn. This was also what I had learned when I went for my first class in cooking school. And I am happy I did.
You should always cut away from your body; this is the correct way, especially with a dull knife. This should be the only way one should cut and is the best way to avoid cutting yourself.
Let’s face it. You probably had once or twice without realizing been cutting the wrong way. If you were unlucky, you might have ended up cutting yourself, hopefully not too deep or anything. Surprisingly, this is something that happens to many of us much more often than you might think. This is not always because people don’t know how to use a knife, but in most cases, because they are not paying attention, are too busy with something else, or are in a hurry and therefore just want to get this thing done fast. I was one of them. I used to work in a big restaurant chain where we had to do daily mise en place in the morning. I remember I had started cutting and my colleague next to me doing the same, we were chatting as we always did and all fo a sudden I felt this pain on my thumb, sparing you the details i had cut myself and it happened so fast. Luckily the cut was not too deep, or at least not deep enough for me to get stitches or anything, so I patched it up and continued working. But the second time was different. I had frozen hamburger patties stick together, and I wanted to get them apart. In normal circumstances, I would use a small potato knife, push a little in and twist it. But because this was my very first day as a chef, I was nervous. And so I took a demi chef nife and yes…it slipped, I had put too much pressure on it, and I cut myself quite deep. I will save you the details, of course, but the ambulance had to come, and I was not able to do anything for the next two months. This was the moment I thought to myself. I guess this is the reason we get that first lesson.
Learning how to cut from the right person.
This sounds so obvious, but believe me, this is one of the main reasons that most people are not learning correctly. Yes, you can learn by watching someone else doing it, but how do you know if this person is doing it correctly? So, in case you are not going to any school or anything, make sure to learn it from a professional, it can be a chef or simply someone who has a lot of knowledge. In case you have no time for that or cannot find anyone who can teach you, there is still youtube. There are so many videos out there that teach you everything you need to know. So you have no excuse!
Using the right knife for the right task.
This is something I have been discussing in other articles and is a perfect fit now in this one. Not using the right type of knife is, in most cases, the number one reason for accidents to occur. By using the wrong knife, you cannot correctly cut through things. This means you need to put much more pressure to cut through, and this leads to accidents. Picture this, you are trying to cut through a bone with a small thin knife, and on top of it, you are cutting towards you. Although you know that this is not the right knife, yet you are too lazy to change, or maybe you don’t have another knife at your disposal right then. To me, this means, you are literally asking for trouble. So, please take the time to switch and use the right blade and at least try to be very, very careful if in case you do not have anything else.
Holding that bone properly.
I am not going into detail on how to hold something correctly in the kitchen. This is for another article. But I will, however, still go over one example. Even though you are cutting away from you, you still need to be careful about how you hold the items. For example, let’s say you are trying to cut off some meat of a bone, and you are cutting away from you. I have seen many people holding the bone at the other end, which eventually leads them to cut in their fingers. Sounds very simple, yet happens way too often. Hold it on the side you are starting from, this way you there is no chance for any accidents.
This is something that you can use if you don’t feel comfortable yet cutting with a sharp knife. I started this way until I felt confident I could handle it. It does not mean that you need to go in the same direction as me even if you are comfortable, but I personally don’t really like gloves when I am working. So, it comes down to personal preference. There are various types of gloves out there. Most commonly used is a stainless steel cutting glove. This is mainly used in meat factories and or butchers.
Holding your knife correctly.
You are probably wondering why I am adding this? Well, the more you are learning how to handle a knife correctly the least you will cut yourself. There are two ways of holding your knife correctly, the handle grip, and the blade grip each of them are very common and you probably saw both of them quite often. I would recommend to try both of them and see what fits you best. I always have been the handle grip myself but when my hands were hurting I would switch. So learning both of them would only benefit you.
Some useful tips
Don’t ever cut in the palm of your hand using it as a cutting board: You probably saw this many times, in fact, my grandmother used to do this and so did my mother who learned from her. But it is something you should try to avoid. One little push too much and it’s done.
Keep your blades sharp: You see keeping them sharp means less pushing means fewer accidents.
Don’t ever lick anything from your knife: I know it’s tempting, but please don’t.
Make sure your cutting board is secured: A very neat trick is putting a wet kitchen towel under your cutting board and voila!