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Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

7 Produce Chopping Tips Every Home Chef needs to Know



If you’ve ever chopped up a cucumber or an onion, you know it’s not as easy as it looks as it is on cooking shows or movies. However, you can practice and get better with these tips. They don’t take a lot of your time, but if you’re serious about getting better with a knife in the kitchen, these really go a long way.

Chopping techniques will help you shave tens of seconds off your kitchen routine

1. Learn How to Take Care of Your Knives

Knives are instruments that will last only as long as you take care of them.


Knives are sacred instruments to most chefs; much more valuable than either spoons or forks in the kitchen. Hence, they’re to be stored away from the cutlery drawer. This is also a safety issue since you don’t want to be rummaging inside the drawer only to get your finger cut.

You can try getting a knife rack or even a magnet that is mounted on the wall to store the knives. Keep them in full view and away from any children at all costs.


Cleanliness is of paramount importance in the kitchen and also keeps your knives in good shape. You don’t want to keep slicing with a dirty knife. It’s messy for one, and it’s also not very efficient.

Most knives are dishwasher-safe so you can just throw them in without worrying about the consequences. However, the best way to clean them is to use hot, soapy water to get rid of the food stains. Dishwashers can also knock them around a bit and dent the blade so you’re better off cleaning them by hand.

Remember to dry them off before storing them or they will quickly develop rust.


The phrase “blunt instrument” is used to deride someone’s techniques or methods as unnecessarily brutal and imprecise. Having a blunt knife will do you no favors. Keeping it sharpened will not only make your work easier; it’ll make it a pleasure.

You can invest in a sharpening-steel for regular sharpening or a whetstone as well as a pull through sharpener if you’re more serious.

Choosing the Right Knife for the Job

This is something that trained chefs always do. Choosing the right tool for the job makes it easier. When you’re preparing a great dish, time is of the essence, so why not make every second count? Cleavers are better for hacking, pointed paring knives are better for digging, and a good old chef’s knife is great for dicing and slicing produce.

2. Learn about Different types of Cuts

Since there are so many different types of fruits and vegetables out there, there are different cutting techniques based on what you’re chopping up. Learning these will help you save a lot of time in the kitchen.

The Chop

This is the most widely used technique for chopping produce since it’s so natural. It cuts up fruits and vegetables into regular pieces and doesn’t take very long. Improve your speed by focusing on your wrist motion.

The Dice

This is simply taking care of geometry when chopping. Slice the produce into strips and then further cut those strips into blocks. Now the individual pieces all look like dice.

The Mince

This is quite similar to dicing, but the strips that you cut are much thinner. This will reduce your produce to tiny morsels. This is what chefs usually do with onions.

The Julienne

This technique is also known as the shoestring. It involves cutting the produce into very fine strips which are as thin as matchsticks. It’s common to do this for carrots, celery, and onions.

The Chiffonade

This technique is usually used for leafy greens. Use this technique to shred them down to beautiful ribbon-like strips.

3. Safety First

It’s imperative that you keep yourself safe while chopping.

Curl your Fingers when Chopping

Make sure that you curl your fingers away from the knife while chopping, or wear gloves when you chop. Also, just keep the tip of the blade on the cutting board during the chop so that you’re exposed to as little of the blade as possible at all times.

Choose the Right Chopping Board

It may seem like an odd thing to be picky about, but a chopping board can make the difference between a great chop and a bad one. A good chopping board can last a lifetime, but if you cheap out on one, then you’re going to have problems.

Not only does it provide a good base for you to chop literally anything, but it also helps maintain your blades. If you chop vegetables on a granite surface (like a countertop), you may blunt your knives.

The best choice, by far, is to invest in a wooden board.

4. Dice Onions before Slicing Them

Cutting onions in half before peeling them is the best way to start. Then, you should slice both halves into many pieces vertically so that they’re all attached at the root. Next, put the exposed half face down and chop it horizontally into tiny pieces.

5. How to Peel a Pomegranate

Slice it in two halves, pull apart, and submerge them in water. Thump out the seeds into the water with a wooden spoon and then scoop the pith out of the water.

6. Use all the parts of Broccoli by Chopping the Stem and Head

Make sure to separate the stem and the head first. Then slice them all up into tiny pieces so you can use all the vegetables.

7. Slice out the Centers of Bell Peppers first

Slice bell peppers into neat rings, then slice out the center of each one. Take the clean rings and slice them up into tiny pieces.

By using these easy chopping techniques, you can make chopping produce very easy on yourself.

Kitchen Professor author
About the Author: Rhonda Richardson, Editor

Rhonda grew up with parents who gardened, hunted, fished, canned, and preserved food. Her mother was a professional cook and Rhonda credits her teaching everything from how to make homemade biscuits and gravy to what kind of meals to serve for different occasions. In the kitchen, Rhonda uses a mix of old-fashioned country cooking and up-to-date fads in the kitchen, often experimenting with replacing higher-calorie or fat ingredients with healthier options that still retain the delicious flavors of the originals.

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