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How do you move your chopped vegetables?

rubenhan Feb 29, 2012 03:19 PM

Hi, everyone.

I have a question to other seasoned cooks. How do you move your chopped vegetables and others to another container or pan?

Consider the following scenarios.

1) I just chopped 2 onions, 20 garlics, and 2 carrots. I want to add them to my frying pan. I add them straight from the chopping board by lifting the board directly above and pushing the ingredients onto the pan. Some veggies start falling outside of the pan making some messes.

2) I just made the base for a marinara sauce with canned tomatoes. I need to move them to my blender to make a smooth sauce. I grab my pan and try to pour them into the blender. Well the surface of the pan is larger, so some of them drips outside of the blender.

In both situations, I couldn't really use a funnel, because the ingredients are too big. If I try to move them by spoon or even ladle, it just takes too long when I'm busy cooking. Although the ingredients that I spill aren't that much, but I still find them a little wasteful and messy.

I'm wondering how other cooks deal with this issue.

Thank you.

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  1. b
    bamagirl30 RE: rubenhan Feb 29, 2012 03:24 PM

    Situation 1- I hold my cutting board near the pan and keep it almost level while corraling the veggies into the pan with my knife. Usually no mess.

    2 - get an immersion blender. They are cheap and indispensible. I use mine ALL the time, plus I am pretty paranoid about the whole hot liquid-blender issue. And I hate cleaning the blender with a Passion.

    2 Replies
    1. re: bamagirl30
      rubenhan RE: bamagirl30 Feb 29, 2012 03:33 PM

      1) Even then, if I have copious amounts of veggies, some of them just spills out. In my example, that's a lot of chopped veggies, and if I lean the board, most of them will end up in the pan but 5% will end outside.

      2) I do have immersion blender. I'll try that next time.


      1. re: rubenhan
        visciole RE: rubenhan Mar 1, 2012 03:36 PM

        Don't lean the board. Keep the board flat; then aim/corral/angle with the knife, as bamagirl30 said. Works with everything except asparagus, which loves to roll, roll, roll!

    2. w
      wyogal RE: rubenhan Feb 29, 2012 03:27 PM


      4 Replies
      1. re: wyogal
        BananaBirkLarsen RE: wyogal Mar 1, 2012 02:49 PM

        This! For the first one at least, although I would be in eternal awe of the person who transported boiling tomatoes with their bare hands.

        For the second scenario, dare I suggest... spoon?

        1. re: BananaBirkLarsen
          wyogal RE: BananaBirkLarsen Mar 1, 2012 07:11 PM

          That was for the chopped vegetables. I use an immersion blender, I forgot about the second part, see below. I posted again.

          1. re: wyogal
            BananaBirkLarsen RE: wyogal Mar 2, 2012 01:02 PM

            Yes, I figured that you only meant that for the first part. But I like the image of some brave chef carrying handfuls of cooked tomatoes across the room to the blender! :)

            1. re: BananaBirkLarsen
              Hank Hanover RE: BananaBirkLarsen Mar 2, 2012 02:52 PM

              I think carrying the blender bowl over to the pan and then ladling in the tomatoes might work without making too much of a mess, but, yes, a REAL man would just carry those hot tomatoes by hand. It's a good kitchen show off trick....really impresses people.

      2. e
        escondido123 RE: rubenhan Feb 29, 2012 03:29 PM

        #1 Take the pan to the board.
        #2 Immersion blender or mill/blend your tomatoes from the can before you put them in the pan.

        5 Replies
        1. re: escondido123
          rubenhan RE: escondido123 Feb 29, 2012 03:42 PM

          1) I don't understand what you are saying. The pan is getting heated on the stove. So I don't want to move a heated pan unless it's necessary. Also, even if I move the pan to the board, I still have to transfer all the chopped veggies either by having the board above the pan and pushing them in or move them little by little by hand.
          2) Most cooking recipes call for whole peeled tomatoes and cooking them crushed on the pan and then blend. If I preblend before cooking, wouldn't it change the taste? (I don't know if it makes difference) Also, I have to blend onions and others inside the tomato sauce. So I still have to transfer the ingredients to the blender. But next time I'll try using the immersion blender.

          1. re: rubenhan
            escondido123 RE: rubenhan Feb 29, 2012 08:24 PM

            I1) Moving the pan to the board for a few seconds while you sweep the chopped ingredients into it should make no difference. But if that concerns you, get a wide bowl large enough to hold the chopped ingredients, sweep them into it using your hand and then dump them into the pan. I don't find this particular action that tricky.

          2. re: escondido123
            1sweetpea RE: escondido123 Feb 29, 2012 03:50 PM

            Mise en place bowls. Cut one vegetable and move it to a bowl. Repeat, using varying sizes of bowls as needed. As long as all bowls are smaller than your pan, you should have no difficulty transferring the contents to the pan with no escapees. My cutting board is large and too unwieldy for just tipping or scraping items into a pot or pan.

            My immersion blender is a godsend. I love my regular blender for cold liquids or when a velvety puree is desired. The immersion blender can also blend to complete purees, but I like having a few lumps left in a tomato sauce or pureed soup.

            1. re: 1sweetpea
              hotoynoodle RE: 1sweetpea Feb 29, 2012 07:25 PM

              Mise en place bowls


              ugh. more stuff to wash. i just use my hands, then scrape up any stray bits with the knife.

              i have never used a blender for tomato sauce. if i need to move hot liquid form a pot to a blender or food pro i use a big ladle and then can scrape out any remnants with a big rubber spatula.

              1. re: hotoynoodle
                ellabee RE: hotoynoodle Mar 1, 2012 03:45 PM

                Mise en place bowls would be my answer to the OP (for scenario 1). If you use a dishwasher, not that big a deal. If you don't, you have to factor in the time to wash a bowl vs. the mess and stress saved by making mise en place a habit. [For pure speed, non-mise can be the winner, if efficient use is made of recipe steps -- chop while something is simmering, coming to a boil, etc.]

          3. w
            wyogal RE: rubenhan Feb 29, 2012 03:53 PM

            .... and for the sauce, I agree with the immersion blender. I have also used a canning funnel (wide mouth) which is quite handy for this type of thing, to put stuff in a blender. I use a ladle at first, then just dump the last little bit in. But, an immersion blender is really the best.

            1. s
              sedimental RE: rubenhan Feb 29, 2012 03:56 PM

              Cooking is messy :)

              I have a stainless steel "scooper" thingy I use sometimes for small items and dry items.

              Sometimes I use a light weight flexible plastic cutting mat ( I have various sizes). These are really good for juicy and sloppy items that stain like tomato, beets, fruits, etc. I just pick up the mat and it flexes into a U -shape to "pour/slide" into the pan. Nice!!!!

              2 Replies
              1. re: sedimental
                sunshine842 RE: sedimental Mar 1, 2012 11:12 PM

                +1 - if I have lots of veggies, a cutting mat makes this child's play.

                You can also use a flexible cutting mat to make a funnel for the blender.

                I buy mine at Ikea -- they're about 1/8" thick and cheap.

                1. re: sunshine842
                  Hank Hanover RE: sunshine842 Mar 2, 2012 02:55 PM

                  Whew!... I was beginning to think I was the only one. Looks like Greygarious is on the bandwagon, too.

                  It just seemed obvious to me.

              2. DuchessNukem RE: rubenhan Feb 29, 2012 03:56 PM

                1) Flexible plastic chopping board -- curve up edges and tilt.

                2) Large spoon for the majority, then dump at the end.

                And lots of sponges and towels. I'm a sloppy cook.

                1. c
                  CanadaGirl RE: rubenhan Feb 29, 2012 04:01 PM

                  I use a big bench scraper and a couple of trips if needed.

                  1. coll RE: rubenhan Feb 29, 2012 06:53 PM

                    I have a big (12 inch or more) chefs knife, and I use that as a conveyance vehicle, after using it to chop.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: coll
                      ipsedixit RE: coll Feb 29, 2012 08:17 PM


                    2. weezieduzzit RE: rubenhan Feb 29, 2012 07:11 PM

                      1. bench knife/scraper
                      2. immersion blender

                      1. n
                        nvcook RE: rubenhan Feb 29, 2012 08:43 PM

                        When I saw this post, the first thing that came to my mind was, "with the top of the knife blade, not the sharp edge." So you don't dull it.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: nvcook
                          gourmanda RE: nvcook Mar 1, 2012 06:55 AM

                          Exactly! This is what I do...I use a large Santoku for all of my chopping and slicing and I use the non-blade side to scoop the vegetables into my hand and place them in the hand. If it's a great quantity then I will pull out my metal bench scraper.

                          For spaghetti sauce, I have never had reason to blend it. It just would never occur to me whether using fresh or canned tomatoes. Sometimes though with canned I use scissors on them while they are in the can (usually drain the juice out, cut the tomatoes then drain away the watery juice) so that they cook down more quickly.

                          1. re: gourmanda
                            rcallner RE: gourmanda Mar 2, 2012 04:39 PM

                            I have SO sliced my hands (lightly, just enough to really enjoy lemon juice) when scooping with my very sharp Santoku knife.

                        2. Hank Hanover RE: rubenhan Feb 29, 2012 11:51 PM

                          I use flexible cutting boards something like this: http://www.amazon.com/Norpro-Slice-Fl...

                          I just pick up the whole thing, bend it and pour the veggies into the pan.

                          1. Sooeygun RE: rubenhan Mar 1, 2012 05:52 AM

                            1. bring pan to board or hands or stainless scoop or bench scraper or mise en place bowls (veggies are chopped on a butcher block, can't carry that to the pan :)) Depends on whether I doing prep ahead or as needed, whether Mr S and I are sharing the kitchen, etc.

                            2. pour, using rubber spatula to push and guide so it doesn't spill. Actually for this specific recipe in the OP, I would also use the immersion blender, but if I'm pouring from wide to narrow in other cases, would use the rubber spatula.

                            1. iL Divo RE: rubenhan Mar 1, 2012 09:00 AM

                              depends on my mood.
                              scooped up with both hands.
                              bench scraper
                              coddled up on chef knife

                              1. Njchicaa RE: rubenhan Mar 1, 2012 09:21 AM

                                Bench scraper and immersion blender.

                                1. b
                                  bitchincook RE: rubenhan Mar 1, 2012 09:57 AM

                                  I use paper plates, the cheap white kind. I cut vegetables and use the back of the knife to transfer them from the cutting board to a paper plate. If I am cutting a lot of vegetables, I'll use multiple plates. They work great for non-liquid mis en place. The plates are flexible, so it's easy to transfer the contents to a pan without spilling. And the plates also function as a place to rest my cooking utensils without making a mess on the counter. In the end, they go into the trash, so there is no need to find room for them in the dishwasher.

                                  One caveat: if you are chopping garlic, put it on top of other ingredients, as it gets sticky and tends to weld itself to a paper plate if it's there by itself. If I am chopping only garlic, I'll use a small glass plate for the mis en place.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: bitchincook
                                    hotoynoodle RE: bitchincook Mar 2, 2012 12:27 PM

                                    that seems so wasteful.

                                  2. BerkshireTsarina RE: rubenhan Mar 1, 2012 09:58 AM

                                    My bench scraper is small but mighty --- and is constantly in use.
                                    Unless I'm prepping complicated, like Chinese food, where I array it all on a round metal pizza pan, the bench scraper does the job.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: BerkshireTsarina
                                      jmckee RE: BerkshireTsarina Mar 1, 2012 11:29 AM

                                      I have an item Graham Kerr used to market called a "bash and chop." It's essentially a bench scraper that lays flat. http://www.organize.com/basandchopcu....

                                      I use it as a scooper to get the stuff off the board and into the pan or a holding bowl if I'm chopping before I cook.

                                      1. re: jmckee
                                        weezieduzzit RE: jmckee Mar 1, 2012 01:15 PM

                                        I also have the Graham Kerr one just like that. It works great for me since my hands are much to small to use the knife I chopped with. I'd either spill veggies on the way or have to make many trips back and forth until I got it.

                                    2. j
                                      janniecooks RE: rubenhan Mar 1, 2012 12:29 PM

                                      In the first scenario, I prefer to clear the cutting board between ingredients--two chopped onions takes up a lot of space! As each ingredient is chopped it goes into a bowl - one bowl for each addition or group of additions. If sauteeing the onions and carrots together, they go in the same bowl. The last ingredient into the pan would be the last ingredient chopped and it either gets scraped from the board into the pan by a knife or a bench scraper, or into its own bowl if the board is needed further.

                                      In the second scenario, I have used a ladle to transfer hot liquid to a blender, because I don't like the mess. But I'm with the other posters who suggested using an immersion blender. Since getting one I can't imagine a scenario where I'd want to transfer to a blender.

                                      1. Chemicalkinetics RE: rubenhan Mar 1, 2012 03:00 PM

                                        I almost always move the chopped foods with the blade of my knives to their destination (let it be a pan or a bowl).

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                          escondido123 RE: Chemicalkinetics Mar 1, 2012 03:06 PM

                                          I tried the switching to the other side but found it awkward at best---and the blade does such a better job of scraping everything off the board.

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                            KarenDW RE: Chemicalkinetics Mar 2, 2012 12:43 AM

                                            I usually don't move food on a knife, as a matter of practice - I work in a community kitchen and have spent the last four years training people to NOT put a knife anywhere near a workbowl! You never know who else's hands might be heading to the same bowl.
                                            So, usually use either bare hands or a bench knife to moved chopped anything.

                                            1. re: KarenDW
                                              Chemicalkinetics RE: KarenDW Mar 2, 2012 06:11 AM

                                              " You never know who else's hands might be heading to the same bowl."


                                              Fortunately or unfortunately, I always work with myself and a knife is just so convenience for transforming foods.

                                          2. tcamp RE: rubenhan Mar 1, 2012 03:36 PM

                                            For scenario 1, I don't have a problem with moving my cutting board over to the pan and scraping in. However, none of my cutting boards are that big. I am not above stopping mid-chop to dump 1/2 of the cut items into the pan, then continuing to chop the rest. Most things I make aren't that sensitive. If the quantity of chopped material is small, I am likely to scoop it up with the knife and my hand, then transfer to the pan. I should try using the dull side of the knife. Note to self.

                                            For scenario 2, I would use my immersion blender. After a disasterous attempt to pour potato-leek soup into my blender after a glass or two of wine, I obtained the immersion blender and use it religiously.

                                            1. greygarious RE: rubenhan Mar 1, 2012 04:32 PM

                                              I have a flexible cutting mat for really large amounts, but most often used a plastic cutting board I bought ages ago at a supermarket. It has no manufacturer's info - I think it was one of those things where they feature a different item of dish or equipment every week. Wish I had gotten a second one because mine is now cracked (my fault - I was hammering on a bone). It is about the size of a piece of typing paper and has a slot cut out on one short end so it can be hung and picked up easily. On the opposite end, both of the corners bend upward slightly, forming a 4" wide chute for pouring. That contour is enough to channel everything into the bowl, pot, or pan.
                                              I have looked for the same design in stores and online, to no avail.

                                              1. r
                                                ricepad RE: rubenhan Mar 1, 2012 05:22 PM

                                                1) I use a Chinese cleaver most of the time, and the broad blade doubles as a bench scraper.

                                                2) Before I got my stick blender, I used a ladle to transfer hot stuff to the blender.

                                                1. cowboyardee RE: rubenhan Mar 1, 2012 05:36 PM

                                                  1) There really aren't that many situations where I'm chopping a large amount of veg AND it all has to go into the pan at the same exact time. If everything has to go into the pan at once, we're usually talking about a much smaller quantity of food. So I preheat the pan, halve and skin the onions, maybe remove the garlic skins, cut up an onion carry the cutting board over and push that into the pan. Cut up another onion (takes about 15 seconds once the onion is skinned) and repeat. Working on your knife skills so that you can break things down quickly and efficiently can help this process.
                                                  1a) I don't use it every time I cook, but a nice, big Chinese cleaver is especially nice when you have to efficiently move around a lot of prep.
                                                  1b) If you don't want to wash mise en place bowls, sheets of aluminum foil work for most dry prep.

                                                  2) An immersion blender is one fine solution. Using a big spoon or ladle, a steady hand, and practice is another. Or one of the nice things about a cheap flexible plastic cutting board is it can double as a very large funnel - just curl it up a bit.

                                                  1. KarenDW RE: rubenhan Mar 2, 2012 12:48 AM

                                                    re: 2) a large PLASTIC measure, i.e., pint/500 ml, or quart/1L, serves me well for scooping hot liquids. Never glass; I've broken glass into liquids or ice before; so even more wasteful when I have to discard an entire batch of something due to glass shards.
                                                    A canning funnel (with truncated bottom) is very useful for directing thick or chunky liquids.

                                                    1. f
                                                      FoodPopulist RE: rubenhan Mar 2, 2012 01:34 AM

                                                      I have used the following methods for moving chopped vegetables:

                                                      Carried on the blade of a knife (usually for small amounts)
                                                      Carried with hands (usually for amounts no bigger than a handful)
                                                      Carried on a chopping board and swept into the pan, usually with a hand or a knife
                                                      Carried in a bowl (usually when I have more ingredients than fit on the board)

                                                      But mostly, I don't care about being messy. If I drop something, I'm probably not even going to clean it up until after I eat what I am cooking, so long as it is not an impediment to cooking.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: FoodPopulist
                                                        MrBigTime RE: FoodPopulist Mar 2, 2012 06:25 AM

                                                        My personal motto is "If you're not making a giant mess, you're not cooking a delicious meal!" Also, I usually have a fairly hungry dog hanging around the kitchen ready to cleanup any shrapnel that makes it to the floor. I usually use my sanktou knife for transferring from cutting board to pan, however if I'm feeling feisty I'll dig out the dough cutter (is that the proper term?) from the utility drawer. Most of dough cutters I've seen have a handle that sticks out from the blade on both sides, making it difficult to "sweep" the blade along the board, however this one (which popped up when I googled dough cutter to see if that was the right name) is flush, and I bet that it works pretty well: https://www.google.com/products/catal...

                                                        Mr. BT

                                                      2. BiscuitBoy RE: rubenhan Mar 2, 2012 06:28 AM

                                                        6" taping knife...a little more scooping area than my knife, plus it looks cool on the magnetic knife rack, plus I'm a bit of a toolhound:

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: BiscuitBoy
                                                          BiscuitBoy RE: BiscuitBoy Mar 2, 2012 06:30 AM


                                                        2. f
                                                          flashria RE: rubenhan Mar 2, 2012 06:36 AM


                                                          how about this??! I must get one myself.........

                                                          1. jen kalb RE: rubenhan Mar 2, 2012 06:56 AM

                                                            It seems to me that slowing down and being more careful doing these operations is the solution for you. I would start out by not filling your cutting board too full of stuff before you try to move it. Or use a larger board, if you have to chop a bunch of things together. Since of the ingredients you mention onion usually starts cooking first (I would go onion, carrot then garlic.. A smaller mound of veg vs. the size of the board will give you more control. Dont try to dump off the board, that will make a mess, use your knife or hand to move the veg into the pan. You may spill a couple of fragments, but it should not be a disaster.

                                                            With the pan to blender, I think its also a question of control - you want a smooth pour, not all at once. If the pan is too big to control you can ladle out some of the contents into the blender jar.
                                                            Move your pan and blender jar close together for this so you dont have to carry the ladle across the room. You can also use a spatula or spoon to direct the pour from the bowl into the blender.

                                                            1. c
                                                              cheese girl RE: rubenhan Mar 2, 2012 08:08 AM

                                                              Bench Scraper! Saw Sara Moulton using a huge one on her show. As for sauce transfer, use a ladle until most is transferred, then pour remainder into blender.

                                                              1. Caroline1 RE: rubenhan Mar 2, 2012 04:03 PM

                                                                How I move my prepped veggies from the cutting board to the pan depends on how much I have to move. For not-too-large amounts I simply use the flat of my 10" chef's knife. For larger amounts I use a handy-dandy sized dough scraper. I don't try to wrestle with the cutting board. I've lost that battle too many times. Which is not to say I'm above moving the pan closer to the cutting board! Sometimes, if I'm making something where I need a couple of CUPS of mirapoix or some similar quantity of diced/chopped multiple ingredients, I put each diced vegetable into the same bowl as I finish, then transfer from the bowl to the pan. When I do stir fry, I segregate the vegetables into long cooking and fast cooking bowls so I can add them to my wok at different times. I don't know how to say "mise en place" in Chinese, but in Chinese cooking it is critical!

                                                                For blending, as others have said, if you have an immersion blender, it's the ONLY way to fly. I only make one thing I can think of off hand that I have to use my Waring jar blender for and that's mushroom soup because my hand blender takes waaaaay to long to get it as smooth as I like it. So when I make mushroom soup, I make sure I saute and simmer the mushrooms in a pan that has a great pouring spout!

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