Every day, in millions of households around the world, people are cutting food. Bread, fruit, meat, pies, meat pies—and, unfortunately, sometimes a finger gets trimmed as well. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With fruits and vegetables in particular, there are a few simple techniques you can use to help you quickly cube, mince and chop you favorite in-season fruit without losing a digit.
One simple step: keep your knives sharp. Dull knives don’t slice through fruit and vegetables as easily as sharp ones. They cause you to press and saw more intensely and have a greater chance of uneven cutting or having the knife dangerously move around. Good quality knives can be improved by using a honing steel—that long, round device that chefs on TV whip back and forth around the knife to re-align the blade. Technically you are “honing” the blade, not actually sharpening it, but the effect is the same. Here’s how to wield it.
Invest in a couple cutting boards that are flat and stable, so your surface isn’t shifting around when you’re chopping broccoli. Boards with rubber edges can help everything stay put. And when a board becomes warped, think about swapping it out for a new flat one.
Change your approach
You don’t prepare and cook all your vegetables in the same way, so why cut them the same? Learn the best and easiest ways to cut a variety of fruits and vegetables, and you’ll be well on your way to cutting fast and fearlessly. Here’s a start:
- Mango: Start by peeling the mango. Then slice it in half along the longer direction, avoiding the pit, and trim the remaining areas around the pit. Then cut the remaining flesh into smaller pieces as you like. Here’s a video that should help.
- Avocado: First cut it in half lengthwise. You’ll hit the pit in the middle, so just rotate your knife all the way around it. Then twist the avocado open and remove the pit by digging the knife into it and pulling it out. Slice through the avocado halves, only cutting the flesh, not the skin, then spoon out the slices. Here’s a video of how to cut an avocado.
- Watermelon: It’s watermelon season, so it’s a great time to learn a convenient way to cut it into cubes. The rind is thick and can be hard to get through. Essentially you start by slicing off the bottom, so the fruit lies flat and won’t roll around when you cut the rest. Then simply cut off the rind, from the top down, then cut slices, which you then cube. This article from Bon Appetit shows us how to do it well.
- Pineapple: The approach to cutting pineapple is similar to watermelon. Chop off the top, then turn it on its flat head and cut off the outer skin. From there you can cut slices, or chunks, whatever you prefer. Here’s a step-by-step guide.
- Melon: Melon and cantaloupe can be tricky because of their tough outer layer. First, use a sharp paring knife to pierce the rind and circle the fruit to cut it in half. Then scoop out the insides, and cut long slices to the thickness you like. From there you can cut chunks, by slicing off the rind, then cutting small pieces by using the rind as a sort of protective layer. Or you can just eat the slices as they are. Check out this video for more.
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