A Quick Guide to Handling Knives Safely in the Kitchen
It goes without saying that knives can be a danger in the kitchen, and can cause serious injury if not used and looked after properly.
Accidents can always happen, but there are some steps you can take to make sure that you’re handling your knives as safely as possible.
Here are some of our top tips for staying safe when using knives and preventing any accidents or injuries.
In this guide:
- The Intro
- Keep Knives Sharp
- Chopping Boards
- How to Handle
- The Right Knife
- Take your time
Keep Your Knives Sharp
While you might think that a duller knife poses less of a danger, the opposite is often true. Dull knives require more force to use, so they can easily slip while you’re using them (you’re also naturally a lot more careful when using sharper knives!).
Keeping your knives sharp is just good practice in the kitchen anyway to ensure that they’re as efficient and easy to use as possible.
The quickest and easiest way to keep them in good shape is by frequently using a sharpening steel, which hones the edges of the blade. However, a honing steel will only do so much, and eventually, you’ll need to properly sharpen the blade of the knife, using either a knife sharpener, whether this is an automatic or manual sharpener or perhaps a whetstone.
Use a Chopping Board
Firstly, it’s essential to use a chopping board. It goes without saying that chopping directly on your work surface is much more likely to cause the knife to slip and cutting smaller ingredients in your hand is a recipe for disaster!
Not only is using a chopping board obviously a lot safer, but it’s also going to produce more consistent results and protect your work surface too.
If it doesn’t feel like your chopping board is secure on the worktop, try using a damp towel to secure it in place.
Hold the Knife Properly
When you’re using your kitchen knives, it’s important that you have a firm grip on it to ensure it doesn’t slip. Try using your index finger and thumb to grasp the bottom of the blade, with your other three fingers wrapped under the handle to give a little extra control.
Always make sure to keep your hand well out of the way of the blade, curving your fingers away from the knife while you’re holding an ingredient in place, or guiding the end of the blade for precision.
Use Proper Techniques
Always make sure that you’re slicing away from your hand when using your kitchen knives, as this means that if the knife were to slip, it should avoid cutting you.
Be sure to always bring the blade down in one smooth motion through the ingredient. Again, this isn’t just good practice for preventing an accident, but it’ll produce better, more consistent results too.
When it comes to mincing ingredients, always keep the tip of the knife on the chopping board and move the handle up and down quickly, but carefully.
And where possible, try to cut your ingredient to give it a flat edge, so you can lie it on its side to make chopping it much more stable.
Select the Right Knife for the Job
While some knives will perform the majority of tasks pretty well, you definitely still want to take into account what it is that you’re going to be using them for.
This should usually be fairly straightforward (use a small knife for more intricate tasks such as fruit and veg and larger ones for big cuts of meat, for example), but you’ll also want to take into account things such as the flexibility of the knife and what kind of edge it has.
In addition, only use the knives as they’re intended to be used, avoiding the temptation to use your knife to get into cans or tough food packaging, for example!
Store Knives Correctly
As well as keeping things nice and organised, this also means that the knives are safely out of the way when you’re not using them (especially important if you have children).
Having your knives all kept loose in a drawer also increases the chances of you cutting yourself as you reach in to grab one too.
Also, be sure to keep your knives clean before putting them aware after use, although don’t ever leave them in a bowl of soapy water, or you risk cutting yourself as you reach in to take them out.
Take Your Time and Concentrate
No matter what you’re using a knife for, one of the most important things is to take your time and keep your focus on the job at hand.
Make sure that there are no distractions in the kitchen and don’t rush things, even though the kitchen can sometimes be a stressful environment!
Failing to take care to use your knife properly can potentially lead to some pretty nasty injuries, but following these tips should help you stay safe, as well as to achieve better results in the kitchen, whether at home or in a professional setting.