This may come as a surprise to many, but a number of people do not know how to hold a knife properly — even you. So how do you define “proper” if you’ve been using knives for, say, years, and has only cut yourself a few times?
Here’s the thing: you might find your “comfort zone” once you have the knife in your hand, but the truth is there is that other hand you should take note of. Yes, it is usually the hand without the knife that gets victimized.
There are many factors to consider when holding a knife, and one of them is the size and the design. If you’ve seen Julie and Julia — and I bet you’ve seen this in some cooking-related shows as well — holding a knife means having the instrument become one with your hand. That means finding the right grip that will give you that single motion that actually does the job. This is to say that hacking motion with your arms is not right; if you’re slicing carrots and your entire shoulder is moving you’re already overdoing it. Hold the knife by the handle, grip it firmly, and let it do its work. Sometimes a small hand-and-wrist movement is enough for small pieces. Use elbow grease when needed.
In order to prevent any cutting accidents, try this trick: take a celery stalk. Cut off the leaves and then divide it horizontally, in half. With your knifeless hand, place your middle finger on the end of the stalk near the knife and then your thumb at the other end. The mechanics is that the middle finger will act as your hand’s shield as your thumb pushes the stalk forward with the rest of your fingers merely guiding the stalk.
The positioning may seem awkward at first but after a couple of tries it makes sense. Instead of your knife and your fingers moving along the stalk, you move the stalk in order keep the knife from coming at your finger. Now your fingers do not have to run for its life as the knife comes; you are pushing the food that is meant to be chopped!