Knife Skills

Knife Skills

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I was originally going to write this for next weeks #TuesdayTips but since we have many new subscribers and members on our Kid Made and Kid Approved Facebook group, I thought, lets break down Knife skills that will be needed for the rest of your life. Next week I’ll cover what types are used for what but let me recommend a kid friendly knife set I bought for Matthew.

Ever since Matthew was little, around 2 or 3, he wanted to do more older kid things in the kitchen. As a mom, I was terrified. As a chef, I was terrified, but as a teacher I knew that in order for him, as well as other kids, to gain the skill, they would need to practice. The more you practice the better you get right?

So I overcame my fear and now at the age of 8, Matthew loves using his knifes to cook. While he has graduated to what he refers as his axe knife, Santoku Knife, which is featured below. He still uses his knife set from when he was little for most veggies, heck I even use them on occasion. It is a greater starter knife set for little ones. They won’t get hurt and it helps to teach the motion of cutting.

Even as chefs, the first thing we learned was knife skills. We practiced on different kinds of vegetables and fruits, even in Pastry. Don’t worry it didn’t go to waste. You can store the cut fruit and veggies to be used. I suggest starting with softer fruits like bananas or strawberries for the younger kids. The first part to be taught is making a bear claw with your non dominant hand.

Knife Safety

As you can see from the pictures above this will stop yourself from cutting your fingers off. Number #1 rule with using knives is don’t hurt yourself. The second rule is how the knife is held. In the picture below is how a knife should be properly held.

Honestly, Its a constant reminder, even for Matthew, to hold the knife properly. You will have full control and avoid any accidental injuries like a slip of the knife.

Number #3 rule before we for on those knife skills is learning how to walk with a knife in your hand. This one is for the older kids, but its important to avoid injury. I see so many adults making this mistake as well.

So moms, dad, grandparents and guardians, listen closely. When you walk around the kitchen with a knife, meaning from where they are stored, to your station, to the sink. Walk with the tip pointed down. The reason being is that if you trip it doesn’t impale you, it will go straight into the floor.

If you go by the kitchen rules, you know that wearing proper footwear, is important, as it will protect your feet from incident like the one I just mentioned. Kitchen safety is utmost important, especially around kids. Do not cut corners.

Knife Skills

Now that we have covered knife safety, it is time to explain what knife skills are. Knife Skills are how you cut the produce to ensure quality with uniformity. This helps helps your food cook evenly and look nicer.

Now there are different types of cuts which you will need to know what it is because in recipes, there are terms. In order to understand we must know how to. Directions are very important in learning to cook. While recipes are mainly a guide, in the beginning, it is best to follow a set recipe to fully understand. The more you practice the better you get, sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Large Dice

It measures 3/4 inch × 3/4 inch × 3/4 inch. This square cut is most often used for vegetables like potatoes, and sometimes fruits such as watermelon

Medium Dice

The medium dice measures 1/2 inch × 1/2 inch × 1/2 inch, and is a smaller version of the large dice. This is generally a good choice when recipes don’t specify the size of the dice and the ingredient list just says “diced tomatoes.”

Small Dice

The littlest of the dice cuts, the small dice measures 1/4 inch × 1/4 inch × 1/4 inch and is produced by slicing the allumette into 1/4-inch sections.

Julienne

The julienne cut measures 1/8 inch × 1/8 inch × 2 1/2 inches and is basically the allumette cut once more lengthwise. You will most often use this cut for carrots, celery, or potatoes, and see the thin strips used as a garnish. 

Fine Julienne

The fine julienne knife cut measures 1/16 inch × 1/16 inch × 2 inches. It is also the starting point for the fine brunoise cut. This cut is often used for garnishes.

Allumente

Measuring 1/4 inch × 1/4 inch × 2 1/2 to 3 inches, the allumette is sometimes referred to as the “matchstick cut.” It’s also the starting point for the small dice.

Batonnet

The batonnet is creating a rectangular stick that measures 1/2 inch × 1/2 inch × 2 1/2 to 3 inches. It is also the starting point for another cut, the medium dice.

Brunoise

The brunoise knife cut measures 1/8 inch × 1/8 inch × 1/8 inch, which makes it the smallest of the dice cuts. Brunoise is usually used for garnishes.

Fine Brunoise

The fine brunoise knife cut measures 1/16 inch × 1/16 inch × 1/16 inch.

Mince

Smaller than a fine brunoise, the mince is less precise since it is supposed to be finely cut. We most often mince garlic, or other aromatics, when we want the flavor to be distributed more throughout the dish. 

Chiffonade

This cut is mainly used for vegetable leaves and fresh herbs, in particular, basil. The leaves are stacked, rolled, and then sliced perpendicularly, creating thin strips.

I'm the mom to Matthew, which we run and own Matthew's Kitchen. I'm 27 and studying to be a pastry chef. I love to cook and bake but my passion is in the pastry arts. Matthew is a 5 year old who began cooking when he was 1. Through the years he has not only gained valuable skills but has grown his palette. Together we want to share our passion for food with you and your family
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