Correct Cuts: Kitchen Knife Safety

I recently smoked 30 pounds of pork shoulder for a relative’s birthday party. Turning those juicy hunks of meat into sandwiches required a bit of work, so I was working diligently to separate meat from bone and chop into scrumptious bits of BBQ. Thoughts of knife safety were running through my head, but on pound 29 I got a little careless and suddenly my knuckle had a sunroof.

Before the stitches were in place, I was thinking about how I could prevent this from happening again. Whether you’re cutting a tomato for a sandwich or slicing a roast, everyone should be aware of proper knife safety. Here are a few tips.

Use the right tool for the job. A serrated knife is used for cutting bread, a boning knife for chicken, and a butcher knife for large cuts of meat. Trying to use a paring knife to butterfly pork chops is a poor choice. Knives are for cutting only, and should never be used as can openers or screwdrivers.

Knife maintenance. Keep the blades sharp and clean with solid handles. Knives should be stored in a sheath, wood block, or magnetic tray. Sharp edges allow for more control and less pressure.

Cut away from your body and always use a sanitary cutting board. Vegetables should be halved and sliced with the flat side down to keep them in place. Keep your hand in a claw position when cutting, with fingers and thumb tucked away from the blade.

Pay attention. Keep all focus on the cut at hand. Don’t turn away to talk or watch TV.  Ensure that no other people or pets can bump into you while working. Take breaks if you start to notice your technique changing or your muscles fatiguing.

Safely transport. Carry knives with the end straight down and the blade facing behind you. Never drop a knife into a sink full of other dishes or attempt to grab a dropped knife from midair.

Preparing a fresh, delicious meal is a rewarding experience. Whether you’re cooking for one or one hundred people, always keep knife safety at the front of your mind.


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