For class presentations at Elite Sports Clubs, we have often spent a fair amount of time talking about knife safety for preparing foods. It is a serious matter, as we often have children helping for food preparations. And keeping them safe, and ourselves, should be a primary goal. Purchase the best possible knives that you can as it is an important part of a wonderful meal. A good idea for a gift!
The safe use of knives is imperative for obvious reasons. There are only a few rules to remember, but they are crucial:
- A sharp knife is a safe knife. Using a dull knife is an invitation to disaster. If you try to force a dull knife through the surface of a food product, it’s more likely to slip and cause an injury. Also: if you do happen to cut yourself, a sharp knife will result in an easier wound to attend to.
- Never, ever grab a falling knife. The best way to avoid having to think about this rule is to make sure your knife is always completely on your work surface, without the handle sticking out into traffic areas. Inevitably, however, it will happen from time to time that you or someone else will bump a knife handle, resulting in a falling knife. We all have a natural instinct to grab for anything that’s falling. You must overcome this inclination. Remember: a falling knife has no handle. Just get your hands and feet out of the way.
- Use the right knife for the right job. Many knife injuries occur when laziness induces us to use the knife at hand rather than the correct knife for a job. Place your knife inventory where it is easily accessible so you won’t be tempted to make this mistake.
- Always cut away from – never towards – yourself. Sometimes this is a hard rule to follow. Again, don’t be lazy! If the angle is wrong, turn the product around. Or turn your cutting board around. By the way – if your cutting board doesn’t have rubber feet, you should place it atop a damp kitchen towel to make sure it doesn’t slide while you’re cutting.
- When you have a knife in hand, keep your eyes on the blade. This rule stands whether you are cutting something or carrying a knife. The simple fact is: you’re unlikely to cut yourself if you’re watching the blade, especially the tip. Another idea, don’t talk and cut.
- Carry a knife properly. If you’re carrying a knife through the kitchen, especially a busy kitchen, there are often people, and better, pets hurrying around. You must get used to the idea that the only way to walk with a knife in hand is to carry it pointed straight down, with the blade turned towards your thigh. Keep your arm rigid. You don’t want a family member going to the emergency room with a puncture wound from your knife.
- Never, ever put a knife in a sink full of water. In addition to soaking probably being bad for your knife handle, putting a knife in a sink full of (likely soapy) water is just asking for trouble. Wash your sharp knives by hand (not in a dishwasher!) and put them away immediately.
- Always cut on a cutting board. Don’t cut on metal, glass or marble. This will ultimately damage a knife’s edge.
At what age did you start including your children in the cooking of meals? When did you let them start using knives in the process? How did you teach them about knife safety?
By Rita Larsen, RD; Elite Sports Clubs Nutrition & Diet Counselor