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Mar 15, 2009 02:18 PM

Is there an easy/safe way to chop a lot of carrots?

The only time (so far) I've made Hazan's Bolognese I made a huge batch that necessitated chopping several cups of carrots. Carrots are so hard that chopping them small enough without cutting myself takes quite a while as I'm careful while doing it. Do you have a trick for chopping a large amount of carrots in a safe and efficient manner? Thanks.

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  1. This is why they invented the Cuisinart. They really are a good investment.

    7 Replies
    1. re: SFDude

      I have one. I've just been concerned about getting pieces too small or not uniform. Am I being overly cautious? Thanks, Dude.

      1. re: c oliver

        Many people haven't learned to use a food processor properly. It's not so much a question of caution as of technique. You can't just dump whole vegetables in the bowl, turn the machine on, and expect uniform pieces. To achieve that, first, cut the trimmed, peeled carrots into about 1-inch lengths. Yes, I know. People say why bother to cut them if if you're putting them in the processor anyway. But that's the secret to evenly-sized pieces. And don't put in more than 2 cups of carrots at a time. Pulse 2 or 3 times for a coarse chop; 4 or 5 for a moderate one; 6 or 7 for a moderately fine one. For a fine chop, you can process for 10 seconds nonstop (for about 2 carrots) or up to 20 or 30 seconds for a larger amount.

        I have fairly good knife skills, so don't bother with the food processor if I'm only cutting up one or two carrots or onions. But if I'm doing a whole bunch, it still faster for me to cut the vegetable into smallish chunks and process in batches than to do it by hand.

        1. re: JoanN

          I think JoanN has it bascially right; the exact technique probably depends on your food processor. For mine, the critical element is not overloading it. In addition, for something like a bolognese, there can be a fair amount of variation in size without any bad effects as long as there aren't any large chunks.

          1. re: SFDude

            Thank you both. No, Joan, I think the cutting into short pieces makes perfect sense. And I agree with both of you that not overloading is key. At least it always has been for me with other things. I'm now looking forward to chopping those THREE cups of carrots :)

            1. re: c oliver

              I don't cut mine small but I don't overload but a large piece in with my push piece and it goes down nicely and slices. Same with the next piece. Still way faster than hand chopping. I do probably 5" but I don't put too much in at once. Every processor is different. Use what works for you best.

              1. re: c oliver

                Only 3 cups? Want to try our family secret? We use a crinkle cutter. The "secret" part is that crinkle cutting makes carrots taste better. ;)It's particularly nice when I make holiday carrots (steam carrots with diced apricots and raisins, then toss with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon). I hear you on the chopping and sore hands. I had four hand surgeries and have been good as new now for more than 10 years. Before that, it hurt to chop veggies.

                1. re: kattyeyes

                  Nice recipe. I may have to try that.

      2. The recipe I read called ( for only 2/3 c of chopped carrots. That is not much. ANd rom reading the recipe, it is not clear that they end up as visible objects in the sauce after it has simmer for at least 3 hours. So to save tons o' time, I would just coarse grate them.

        2 Replies
          1. re: Quine

            If the carrots are going to cook to disintegration anyway, then you can just throw them into a blender for a coarse chop if you don't have a food processor.

          2. You need to learn the "claw" method of holding the carrots or anything else for that matter. You cannot cut yourself that way. Basic knife skills. Google and there will be videos that will show you much better than I can tell you.
            Another thing, cut the carrot in half lengthwise so it has a flat area to lie on and won't roll around.
            Learn the claw and you will never be afraid again.
            I'll see it I can find a good video and come back to you.

            18 Replies
            1. re: billieboy

              Thanks. I know and use the method. And I cut them the way you say. It's just that they're quite hard --- or may be just the fact that I have quite weak hands.

              1. re: c oliver

                or maybe your knife isn't sharp enough? I have a ceramic knife and it just glides through the carrots if I halve them

                1. re: c oliver

                  OK good luck...BTW for anyone else interested I found a good video by Chad Ward who is an honest to God expert. Has a good book on kitchen knives.


                  1. re: billieboy

                    That's an excellent video. I knew the "claw" but not the "pinch." I think that will help. Thanks, bb.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      At the end of that video you can click on to some of his others, like dicing onions etc. He is an excellent teacher.

                      1. re: billieboy

                        I saw that and saved it. He's also quite easy to look at :) (My husbands' been out of time for a few days!) That pinch technique will give some needed stability. I really do have weak hands; this should help. I'll report back.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          C Oliver. Stop! Stop right there! If you have small (like many women do) or weak hands;Don't try to use a large chef's knife!!!! this is a mistake many women make. heck, in school and in kitchens I worked in, I was yelled at for using the Non-traditional Pinch grip. But it is now accepted as a grip that is more secure.

                          After over 45 years in the business (I had to be over a certain age before I could really "man" a knife in the family place) I learned: I have a smaller hand then men, I have a different hand grip size. Many good knives have grips that are too large for me to comfortabliy use or control of any period of time.
                          The balance, weight and grip all matter. Use a knife comfortable to YOU, one you feel secure holding and that does not tire you, WHy use a 12 or even a 10 inch chef, if a 8 in one works?

                          remember, it is the knife that is an extension of your hand, not your hand trying to control a "official" knife, and controlling you.

                          1. re: Quine

                            Actually my hands are the size of many men --- pretty long but thin. And also had carpal tunnel surgery decades ago and never worked to recover a ton of strength. Also have kind of a chronic tendonitis in my right thumb (lord, I'm a mess!) So my hands are weak. But, yeah, perhaps I should try out some smaller chef's knives and see how they feel. Thanks SO much for weighing in.

                            1. re: Quine

                              I have fairly severe arthritis in my right (dominant) hand, and I find that my biggie 10" chef's knife is a life saver. I need to exert lots less pressure than with my smaller knife.

                              1. re: Quine

                                I too have arthritis in my right hand, but I still find, as I have found for the last fifty years or so, that what works best for me is fitting the knife to the job. If I'm slicing onions or zucchini or even big fat carrots, I NEED my 10" chef's knife. The blade never leaves the cutting board but just "rocks" through whatever I'm slicing, the weight of the knife helps do that, and my hand isn't tortured by trying to lift a smaller blade to get it high enough to cut thick things. But I'm also a firm believer in "To each his own."

                                1. re: Caroline1

                                  All of these replies are helping me. Thanks. The pinch technique feels stronger.

                            2. re: billieboy

                              I used the "pinch" technique for the first time and, although yes a little awkward the first time, it gave me ALOT more stability. And I think that compensates for some of my weakness. Yay!.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                Can you describe the pinch technique for those of us dial-up Luddites who can't play video on our computers? TIA!

                                1. re: greygarious

                                  I can. The knife's back or spine is gripped between thumb and forefinger. This is just after the bolster of the knife and above the heel. You are pinching on the spine and your fingertips extend onto the sides of the blade.
                                  The heel is the rear-most part of the blade where you can exert maximum down-force.

                                  1. re: Scargod

                                    Excellent. I couldn't have figured out how to describe that. It also felt to me that my hand and remaining fingers became more a part of the handle, giving me if not more strength then at least more stability.
                                    BTW,gg, I could play the video but it took at least twice as long as it should because of the long pauses I usually get with things like that. But anything is faster than my old dial-up.

                      2. re: billieboy

                        Agreed billieboy! And be sure you're holding the knife correctly (hint, if you don't have a callous at the base of your index finger . . .) Lastly, practice leads to speed and perfection!

                        1. re: billieboy

                          Don't even try the cut a carrot in half deal, just slice off a piece (small slice) of the long side where is is thick. *Then* you have a flat stable side that you can now proceed to slice, cut, halve lenghtwise etc. If you have a real long skinny carrot, cut it in half top/bottom wise, so the thin piece you can chop easier and do the flat side making on the thick part. This works very well for all round wobbly veggies.

                          1. re: Quine

                            and actually.... that is what i do. It's too much of a pain to actually cut the carrot (or any veg) in half. But practice, practice, practice. I developed my knife skills on my own, then decided to go to a class at sur la table.... and found that I didn't even need it, lol.

                        2. When I make curries for 20 to 100 people, I use the food processor for onions and tomatoes. I would use it for carrots as well. Pulse some cut up chunks, making sure to not puree.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                            Oh, boy, someone finally is giving me permission to do this!!!! Sam, now YOU'RE my favorite. (I say that to each of our daughters - now 30 and 32 - and say shhh, don't tell the other one.)

                            Do you cook for 20 to 100 for pleasure??? I can just see your having some big yard and everyone gathers for an afternoon of cooking and libations :)

                            1. re: c oliver

                              The last Director General of our institute was a friend of mine from our post-doc days. They had the huge yard, tent awnings, long sturdy folding tables, plastic chairs, big kitchen inside and an even better one outside with industrial stoves and pots. His wife (a far better cook than ma and a well published tenured prof in a Canadian university) and I would often cook for multitudes. Then a lot of people have gotten married, and I've cooked for a lot of those receptions. Have always had a set of cooking colleagues as line cooks for these bigger occasions. At my place the numbers are way smaller so I can do it all - and use the food processor for a lot of tasks.

                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                Sign me up. I'll be your kitchen slave. Haven't been to Colombia yet. Nor has my husband and he spent alot of time in Latin America. After "meeting" you I asked him and he hasn't either. He's VERY good at cleaning up afterwards and setting tables :)

                            1. re: purple goddess

                              Is "V-slicer" a mandoline? How would I get chopped carrots from that? Or maybe it's some other device I don't know about.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                yes. A mandoline. Ours turns carrots into julienne and then you load up the delivery slot, with all the julienned sticks, much like matchsticks all in a row, and then run them through again on a thin blade. Viola, diced carrots!

                                1. re: purple goddess

                                  Ah. VERY interesting. Thanks for sharing that tip.

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    Another option, depending on what you are using them for, is just to grate them.

                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                      I think the grater or FP will be the way I'll go.