When you're chopping herbs on a cutting board for your favorite chicken pot pie recipe, there are usually a few small pieces that you can't quite grab with the rest of the bunch. Although your first inclination may be to drag that chef's knife over the board to scrape the remaining bits into your pan, stop yourself. This technique, although certainly effective in getting every last bit of thyme into your recipe, is probably dulling the blade of your knife.
This is a common mistake among home cooks, and it can also be a costly one. According to Micah Leal, Culinary Professional at Husk in Charleston, the better alternative to scraping across your cutting board with the blade is to turn the knife upside-down. "I will sometimes use the back of the knife to move everything I’ve been chopping to where I want it to be on the board," he says. This is a simple-enough kitchen trick: Use the back of the knife to get the rest of those herbs, and you'll avoid that constant back-and-forth scraping that takes a toll on your favorite kitchen utensil.
Not only is this a good practice to avoid having to re-purchase knives every few years, it can also make your kitchen a safer place to cook. “Most of the knife accidents that happen in the kitchen are caused by dull blades—you have to work harder to cut through something when the blade isn’t sharp," Leal says. "And, that inevitably leads to a slip or something worse, resulting in an injury.”
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You may also be interested in how to hone a knife like a chef:
Keeping your knives fresh and sharp is easier than you might think. A few good rules of thumb: Always hand-wash your knives, and don't leave them coated in gunk in the sink. Use wooden cutting boards instead of glass ones, and never store them without some kind of protection. Knife guards are an inexpensive way to avoid damaging the blades and their tips, Leal confirms. "[Guards] protect both you and your blades, so the knives don’t bump into other metal objects in your utensil drawer." He also suggests taking dull matters into your own hands, instead of waiting for that inevitable slip. "Watch YouTube videos about sharpening your knives; it’s easier than you might think and it makes a world of a difference in the kitchen."