Knives: Kitchen Safety and Simpler Cooking! 1. Which knife is which? 2. How do I store my knives? 3. My knife cuts fine; isn’t it safer if it isn’t too sharp? 4. The truth about knife safety and why sharper is better. 5. Demonstration of chopping and why technique matters. 6. Cutting Boards: What, where, how and why? 7. Question and Answer
1. Which knife is which? Most Common Types of Kitchen Knives: (and really all you need if you aren't a chef) Paring Knife Chef's Knife Steak Knife Bread Knife Boning Knife
Paring Knife A paring knife is a small knife with a plain edge blade that is ideal for peeling and other small or intricate work (such as de-veining a shrimp, removing the seeds from a jalapeño, or cutting small garnishes). It is designed to be an all-purpose knife, similar to a chef's knife, except smaller. Paring knives are usually between 6 and 10 cm (2½ and 4 inches) long. A paring knife makes sense when the chef's knife is just too big or bulky for the job that you need to get done.
Chef's Knife The chef's knife is an all-purpose knife that is curved to allow the cook to rock the knife on the cutting board for a more precise cut. The broad and heavy blade also serves for chopping bone instead of the cleaver making this knife the all purpose heavy knife for food preparation. Chef's knives are most commonly available between 15 cm and 30 cm (6 and 12 inches), though 20 cm (8 inches) is the most common size.
Steak Knife Steak knives are table knives. They are useful only for cutting prepared meats like chicken dishes, steaks, of course; pork and fish. DO NOT use a steak knife as a chef's knife, paring knife or bread knife. This is a good way to own stock in bandage companies!
Bread Knife Bread knives are a type of serrated knife that is usually between 15 cm and 25 cm (6 and 10 inches), with 20 cm (8 inches) being a common length. The serrations on the blade make it ideal for cutting bread and other foods with a hard surface and soft interior. An offset serrated knife uses an offset handle to ensure the cook's knuckles will not touch the cutting surface when the blade has cut all of the way through the food.
Boning Knife A boning knife is used to remove bones from cuts of meat. They have a thin, flexible blade, usually about 12 cm to 15 cm (5 or 6 inches) long, that allows them to get in to small spaces. A stiff boning knife is good for beef and pork, but a flexible boning knife is preferred for poultry and fish. For salmon, tweezers that are disinfected and used only in the kitchen are useful. Press softly with your forefinger on the salmon and when you feel a bone, remove it with the tweezers.
2. How do I store my knives? A knife block is a common way to store knives safely and close at hand in the kitchen, but it is NOT sanitary. This is an angled block of wood, steel, or other material, with slots for inserting knife blades, and sometimes other accessories, like kitchen scissors (as seen on the left). Further, if knives are not placed into a knife block with care, it can dull the blade faster. Many knife blocks, particularly those made of wood, cannot be cleaned on the inside. Magnetic knife bars (seen on the right) and in-drawer holders are becoming popular as more sanitary alternatives. Or, keep the box that your knives come in and store them in their boxes.
3. My knife cuts fine; isn’t it safer if it isn’t too sharp? What is too sharp? And what is too dull? How are you making this determination? Fingernail test: Lightly tap the blade on your fingernail and if it snags a bit, it's sharp enough. In short, no, it is not safer to keep a knife that is just capable of getting the job done. That is actually very dangerous. If you didn't know this, no, you aren't alone!
4. The truth about knife safety and why sharper is better. A dull knife is no good because: 1. It requires more pressure to work and causes strain on your hands. 2. The more pressure you exert, the more likely you are to “slip” on your food and land on your finger, causing injury. 3. A dull knife cuts VERY slowly, causing cooking to become a chore. 4. A sharp knife is easy to use, easy on your hands, cuts faster and makes the process more enjoyable meaning that you'll enjoy cooking at home and spend more time with your family!
6. Cutting Boards: What, where, how and why? A surface that protects your tables and countertops from damage and keeps your knives from becoming too dull. Non-porous surface to guard against cross contamination (plastic). Stay away from wood or natural materials for meats for sanitation purposes. Use wooden ones if you like, but only use them for vegetables. Never use glass or stone – they dull your knives and if they slip and fall from the counter, they can cause injury to you or your family. Plastic and other non-porous cutting boards are easy to clean and give when you cut making them ideal. Protect wooden cutting boards with mineral oil and cut marks in the wood are fine, again, just don't use them for meats. Some cutting boards have rubber grips on the bottom to keep them from sliding – GREAT idea to have those.
Caring for your Cutting Board <ul><li>Caring for your cutting board is easy. </li></ul><ul><li>Plastic: Rinse and place in the dishwasher </li></ul><ul><li>Wooden: Scrub with soap and water, pat dry, sand lightly with light sandpaper, rinse, dry and oil with food-grade mineral oil ( never olive or veg oil) </li></ul><ul><li>Bamboo: Same as wooden without the sanding </li></ul><ul><li>Glass and Ceramic: Just don't use them. Be safe! </li></ul>
Review Know your knives. Chef's knife is most versatile, paring knife is for the little jobs. Sharper is better and safer. Store the right knife properly and you'll rarely have to sharpen it. I suggest seeking out professional kitchen stores to sharpen your knives. If you use a sharpening stone, be sure to wet the stone or oil it to reduce friction (avoiding injury) and move the knife away from yourself in slow, precise movements. Store your knives in the boxes they come in or on magnetic knife bars. It's cleaner, safer and will keep your knives sharper for longer. Prolong the life of your knife! It's the best investment in your kitchen! Cutting boards – don't let them slip, don't use glass or other hard materials that will dull your knife or cause injury if they fall to the ground. Don't use wood for meat, only veggies. Plastic is the most versatile and easiest to clean. Wooden cutting boards are preserved with mineral oil. Bamboo is harder than wood, still better than stone or glass and environmentally more sound b/c it grows fast and saves trees.
About Angela McKeller An award-winning recipe writer that has appeared on The Food Network (a popular food channel in the United States on national television), Angela is passionate about teaching people easy, safe cooking that will inspire more families to gather around the dinner table and bond through the “kooking” experience. Host of a free podcast on iTunes, “Kick Back and Kook!”, she interviews some of the best culinary arts experts from all over the world and shares some of their favorite recipes with you! On her website, soon you will be able to find her couture aprons without the couture price! Also, herb-infused extra virgin olive oils that save you on buying herbs and save time in the kitchen. Coming soon! At www.kickbackkook.com you can sign up for her newsletter to keep up with all things “kooking”, including when her cookbook, “Passion on a Plate: EASY and Affordable Gourmet” will be available. Angela teaches online cooking classes, private in-home cooking classes in Atlanta, corporate team building events and has been recognized as an expert food blogger. Become a fan on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/pages/Kick-Back-and-Kook/157688507389?ref=share Follow her on Twitter @kickbackkook . Thank you so much for taking the Knife Skills Class. Please pass this on!