Slice ‘n’ Dice - Raw Food Cutlery and Cutting Boards
Posted on June 01 2010 | (1) Comments
Category:Raw Ingredients and Equipment
Whenever I talk about raw food, I always mention how simple it is to prepare. Most of the work is done for you – by Mother Nature. Fruits, vegetables, fresh herbs, and spices don’t need a lot of doctoring to taste good.
They do, however, generally need to be sliced, diced, cubed, slivered, julienned, etc.
No problem! Basic knife skills are easy to learn. With just a little bit of practice, you’ll effortlessly tackle even challenging raw food ingredients – such as coconuts and pineapples. The secret -- whether you’re a professional chef in a 5-star raw food restaurant or a home cook who is just learning the joys of a raw food kitchen – is that the most important tools you have are good quality knives and a sturdy cutting board.
Accept no substitutes! The right tools make raw food preparation easy...and safe.
Where Raw Foods Get Cut
Like any tool, knives need proper care. You should never cut ingredients on a ‘bare’ table or counter, whether it's glass, marble or metal. In addition to damaging the table, you'll damage or at the very least dull the blade. Instead, always use a cutting board when prepping raw foods that require the use of a knife.
Wood or bamboo cutting boards are ideal for the demands of raw food cooking. Since there are no meats in raw food recipes, you don’t need to worry about a porous material like wood getting contaminated. This is just one more reason raw food recipes are such a joy to prepare.
By the way, plastic cutting boards can chip and leach into food. Plastic cutting boards can also be so hard that they’ll dull your knives!
If you’re first outfitting your raw food kitchen, I recommend that you start with a large, sturdy cutting board with a non-slip bottom. It should have some weight to it so that it doesn’t move around when you’re chopping raw foods with thick skins.
I recommend that you designate a ‘fruit’ side and a ‘veggie’ side so that flavors don’t intermingle. I discovered this could happen when I served my Mango Carpaccio one night. This raw food dessert recipe from my cookbook makes the flavor of mango the star of the show.
Unfortunately, earlier in the evening, I had sliced the ingredients for my raw food Veggie Sub Sandwich on the same cutting board. My sweet mango dessert ended up tasting like onions! Yuck!
Lots of cutting boards have a gutter and I suggest that you make that the side you use for cutting fruit. The gutter will catch any fruit juice that escapes so you don’t miss a single drop of goodness.
You can supplement your big board with a small, lightweight cutting board that you’ll use for smaller tasks...such as cutting up fruit for a raw food smoothie. All cutting boards should be cleaned immediately after use with a damp sponge and mild dish soap.
Raw Food Kitchen Knife Collection
An 8-inch chef’s knife is your essential tool for slicing, chopping, and mincing harder fruits and vegetables. The brands I like the best are Wustof and Mac Knives. As an alternative, you can also consider an Asian-style santoku knife.
To round out your raw food kitchen knife collection, invest in a 5-inch serrated blade or paring knife...or both! The serrated blade is especially useful for slicing gracefully through succulent raw food summer fruits that would be crushed under the weight of a chef’s knife. A serrated blade also easily slices the nori (seaweed) shell of sushi rolls.
Which is the best of these knives for you to use in preparing raw food recipes? The answer is whatever knife you find the most comfortable to use. The size of your hand and grip will determine the best fit.
So while it’s possible to buy knives online, I recommend that visit a store that sells knives so that you can hold them and see which ones feel best in your hand.
Treat your knives with respect and they’ll be steadfast raw food kitchen companions for years to come. After getting a good workout slicing mangoes or shaving beets, knives need a little TLC.
To clean your knives, use hot water and dishwashing soap. When washing knives by hand, be sure the sharp edge is pointing away from your body and your fingers are far from the knife edge. Don’t forget to give the handle a good wipe-down, too. A dirty handle can be slippery, and that’s one word you never want to use about a sharp knife.
Knives should be cleaned promptly for a couple of reasons. If you leave a knife soaking in water, the handle, especially if it’s wooden, will absorb the dirty water and become harder to clean thoroughly. But there’s also a safety issue: knives can slip under the surface of the water where they are hidden from view, lying in wait to cut you unsuspecting finger.
Keeping Your Cutting Edge
A knife block or magnetic knife holder is an excellent addition to your raw food kitchen. If you don’t have room for those things, consider getting ‘knife guards.’ These slip on protective covers keep your knives sharp and your raw food kitchen safe.
In addition to proper storage, your knives need regular sharpening to keep their edge. I use a multi-edge manual sharpener. I recommend the Chef’s Choice brand. I find this much easier to use than a traditional whetstone. And a nice thing about the multi-edge manual sharpener option is that it can be used on serrated and non-serrated blades alike.
I always appreciate multi-taskers in my raw food kitchen as they help save on space.
See Raw Food Knives In Action!
If you’d like to go from reading about raw food knives and cutting boards to seeing them in action, I hope you’ll visit my library of video clips. In some of these mini-tutorials, I introduce you to raw food kitchen basics, including equipment and techniques. In others, I walk you step-by-step through a simple raw food recipe.
Seeing is believing, in terms of the simplicity of raw food preparation. But it’s the tasting that will really win you over!