Are You Using That Kitchen Knife Properly? How I Learned to Save Time (and My Fingers!)
I’ve occasionally been known to spend a happening Friday night puttering around my kitchen making things like laundry soap and homemade deodorant. I’m a party animal. What can I say?
Still, I surprised myself by happily spending two hours taking a free online “mini” knife skills class until I finally realized it was almost midnight!
Truth be told, I’ve never thought much about the way that I cut food.
Sometimes I’ve frustrated myself, struggled to do a job properly, nicked myself in the process, or ended up butchering what was an otherwise lovely tomato or butternut squash in my amateurish process.
Tonight I learned how to:
- properly hone my knives to keep them sharp between actual sharpenings. I actually skipped straight to this in the last lesson because I had never, ever done it before (honestly, I was scared to try it), and it had been bugging me lately how dull my knives were. Sharper knives = easier, faster cutting.
- hold my knife correctly, for better maneuvering, smoother cuts, and not wrenching up my back or shoulder by doing it wrong
- hold the item I’m cutting more securely so that I can get precise cuts, without cutting off a pinkie in the process
- tackle large or tricky items, like pineapples and squash, with ease
- dice onions more finely and without making my eyes water
- make prettier looking julienne cuts for salads
- a few tricks for slicing more evenly and more quickly
- cut using a more flowing, circular motion instead of a rough, chopping motion, which feels more pleasant and makes the task go much faster
- the only three knives that most cooks ever need and how to figure out which ones to buy
When Craftsy asked me to review a class, I initially had my eye on something more complicated and gourmet, like making homemade Italian-style fresh pasta or the perfect pie crust. Their suggestion of trying out their free mini-course on knife skills sounded a whole lot less fancy and impressive.
Nonetheless, I agreed to it (as well as an artisan baking class that I’ll tell you about later this month), and as I prepared to take the class, I got to thinking that realistically, I would make homemade pasta maybe twice a year. Tops.
But I use my knives every single day. Why not get better at using them?
The surprising thing was… learning to chop and dice and slice like a pro actually made me feel like I could make something more gourmet out of any old meal, and in less time than usual.
Brendan, the teacher, has been a chef instructor for 8 years, with a specialty in knife skills (honestly, I didn’t even know that was a thing, but listening to him showed me just how much I didn’t know about knives or how to use them!).
He made it look so easy, and the further I went in the class, the better and faster I could feel myself getting with practice. I bet in no time these new skills will actually become habit and will seep their way into all of my food preparations.
I even noticed halfway through my time tonight that every time I picked up my knife wrong, I noticed right away, immediately corrected, and found that it felt more familiar each time I did it.
Want to take the class yourself? It’s free, y’all!
Sometimes I write sponsored posts (and this is one – thanks, Craftsy, for supporting Keeper of the Home!) where I’m promoting a product that you could go and buy.
The really awesome thing about this particular post is that this mini-class is absolutely free to anyone, whether they’re my reader or not.
They’ve made some of their high-quality online courses free so that people can check them out, see if you like how they work, decide if you think they’re worth it, etc.
I’ll admit, I was impressed. The area where you go to watch your videos is totally intuitive and easy to figure out. It’s all streaming, so you don’t have to download anything.
I thought it was clever that they have a 30-second rewind button so that if you want to quickly go back and hear something a second time, it’s a quick click of a button. My favorite feature was the notes bar, where you can type in notes as you’re watching, and then just hit enter to save them to your account. Brilliant!
I kept typing notes during the first video in particular, where Brendan talked about different types of knives and what to look for in a good knife, since mine are terribly old and dull (and yes, pretty cheap) and I know that with just one or two really great knives, I could make my cooking so much more efficient.
I’m motivated now to keep my eyes open for a good deal on a quality knife, especially a chef’s knife, and then probably a serrated, followed by a paring knife. With those three, you can do pretty much anything and it suits my minimalistic style to have only a few knives with which I can handle pretty much any task.
Want to spend an afternoon or evening being
super coola bit of a geek like me and learn to wield a knife properly? You totally can. Here’s the link to take the class:
Complete Knife Skills with Brendan McDermott (free mini-class)
All together, it’s 5 lessons, the 1st and 5th of which are fairly short (less than 10 minutes), and then the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th are a bit longer (more like 30-40 each). You can watch them whenever you like, and I found that if I stopped to go do something or had to refresh my computer, it saved exactly where I was in the video so I just picked up where I left off.
I’m thinking of letting my almost 10-year-old daughter work through this class as well. She loves to help in the kitchen, but I want to make sure that she’s using a knife safely (which he emphasizes over and over, pointing out exactly how not to hurt yourself– I confess, I had to laugh at several of his examples of doing it “wrong” because it was exactly how I do it!). If you’ve got an older child or teen that’s learning to cook, this would be a perfect introduction for them.
As a nutrition major in college, we did a lot of cooking. It was there I learned proper knife use and care. It is worth the time to learn to do it right–it will make food prep easier and more efficient. I too use my knives daily and most often reach for the chefs knife. If I owned just one knife, this would be it because it’s extremely versatile. I have the Cutco Space Saver set, which has just five basic knives that will cover virtually any day to day cutting task. It is pricey, but a good investment (much like a good blender).
I wish I could afford to get the Cutco set, it sounds so awesome, but I do think that it will make a huge difference just to buy one really high quality chef’s knife, so that’s where I’m going to start.
Oh yeah, I couldn’t afford the set now either… it was a pre-marriage, pre-babies, pre-expensive college buy. I’ve found some good deals on eBay for individual knives when I purchased a chefs knife as a gift for my sister last year. Maybe you could find a good one there.
Yes! I’m in the middle of this one too, and it is great! I can’t wait to go through it more thoroughly and pause and practice. Haven’t had a chance yet with the littles, but it is making a difference already 🙂
Is the artisan baking one the pizza one? If so, it is THE BOMB. Amazing. I have made better-than-Pizza-Hut pizza by following his recipes and method, and I have a pizza-picky-hubby. The recipes definitely work best with white flour, but if your family’s splurge/fun food night is take-out pizza anyway, why not learn to make it yourself at home? You could then use organic toppings, your choice of pepperoni, add better quality cheeses, etc. (Cheaper too!) You could also play around with adding some whole wheat flour and see what happens… 🙂
Oh, that pizza one sounds awesome!! But no, this one is more for artisan bread, rolls, etc. But I’m going to go look for that pizza class. My hubby already likes my homemade pizza but he would be in heaven if I could make it even better. 🙂
Thanks for posting this! I’ve “taken” a few Craftsy classes and didn’t know this one existed, but I totally need it too.
Oh, that’s fun that you’ve taken other Craftsy classes. I’m excited to try my next one. It’s especially nice that they offer these mini-classes for free!
I love this! Can’t wait to try it out!!