knife guide

Part one of our knife guide walked you through the main kitchen knives that every good home cook needs, plus some speciality knives that will really help raise your game in the kitchen.

Now that you know your knives, it’s time to get your chopping techniques mastered!

CHOPPING METHODS

These are the three most commonly used methods that will come in handy in the kitchen – just remember to keep your fingers away from the blade at all times and you’ll be chopping like a pro in no time.

1. Cross chop: This simple method is great for finely chopping lots of herbs, garlic or vegetables. It’s easy and safe – holding the knife firmly in one hand, place the tip of the knife on a board at an angle of 20º, then keeping the fingers of your other hand rigid on the lower half of the blunt-side of the blade, raise and lower the handle of the knife, keeping the tip of the knife on the board. Sweep your ingredients back into the middle with the blade as you go.

2. Tap chop: Only use this method on veg with flat, stable edges. Place your fingers over the top of your veg, tucking in your fingertips so they’re out of the way, then anchor your thumb at the back. As you chop down with the knife, move your tucked fingers back along the veg towards your thumb. The joint of your finger should guide the blade and control its position, keeping your fingertips safe

3. Rock chop: Great for chopping thicker-skinned peppers, chillies and tomatoes. The trick is to create a controlled rocking motion with the blade, from the tip down to the heel of the knife. As with tap chopping, position your fingers on top of the veg, making sure the tips of your fingers are tucked in and out of the way.

Watch Jamie demonstrate:

KNIFE SHARPENING AND MAINTENANCE

To make sure you’re getting the most out of your knives, keep them in tip-top condition by maintaining them with a steel sharpener after every use.

If your knives are really blunt, using a steel alone probably won’t be enough. In this case, you might need to use a clamped sharpener – this shaves a fine layer of metal from the blade to get it super sharp again.

Check out Jamie’s knife-sharpening technique:

KNIFE TIPS AND ADVICE

  • Always use sharp knives. A blunt knife is actually more dangerous than a sharp one, as you’ll need to put more pressure down on the blade, meaning you’re more likely to slip.
  • If your knives are really blunt and you don’t have a clamped sharpener of your own, ask your local butcher if they offer a knife sharpening service – often they have mechanical grinders on site.
  • Storing your knives in a knife block eliminates the risk of cutting yourself on a rogue blade when you reach into a drawer.
  • It’s best to stick to wooden chopping boards when using your knives. These are more hygienic than plastic boards, which are likely to harbour bacteria in cuts.
  • Unless your chopping board has rubber feet, it’s a good idea to place a damp cloth underneath it when in use – this will help stop it from slipping around.

If you missed part one, you can find it here.