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Everything sticks to the knife!

w
writingislove Apr 8, 2012 10:29 AM

I'm a bit of a cooking newbie. Still ruin dinner about 50% of the time. Having said that, I have this issue when I'm chopping or slicing stuff. How do you make your meats and veggies NOT stick to the knife while you're cutting? My parents bought me a set of good-quality knives for Christmas, so it can't be knife quality (I would guess). Doesn't matter what knife I use, this has always been an issue. Is there a way to prevent this, or do you just have to get used to it?

  1. Chemicalkinetics Apr 8, 2012 01:27 PM

    <Still ruin dinner about 50% of the time>

    We've all been there.

    <How do you make your meats and veggies NOT stick to the knife while you're cutting?>

    Actually, it is a combination of the knife blade grind and a bit of skill.

    A draw cut can significantly reduce food sticking to your blade (but I personally hate draw cut):

    http://youtu.be/3pS-mLc1m00?t=2m20s

    Alternatively, if you have a knife with a good grind, then it will also reduce food sticking. Watch this video from 0:55 to 1:30 minute:

    http://youtu.be/FFBQ6fwzm08?t=55s

    Sticking is also not the end of the world. I just wipe the stick on food on the cutting board.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
      w
      writingislove Apr 8, 2012 02:46 PM

      Ah, so helpful! I know it's not a crisis, but I already have enough problems in the kitchen that even the mere annoyance of food sticking is enough to make me lose my marbles sometimes. I'm going to try that draw cut and see if it gets me anywhere.

      1. re: writingislove
        suzigirl Apr 8, 2012 03:20 PM

        I agree, worse things could happen in the kitchen.if you ca't afford new knives( and I can't but I have a sweet, hungry boyfriend) why not try oiling the blades?

        1. re: writingislove
          Chemicalkinetics Apr 8, 2012 04:15 PM

          <but I already have enough problems in the kitchen that even the mere annoyance of food sticking is enough to make me lose my marbles sometimes>

          True, I know what you mean. There are ways to get around this problem. Draw cut is one way, but I always feel less safe using the draw cut -- probably something I need to work on.

          The technique I use to deal with the sticking problem when it occurs is to quickly "wipe" the blade against the cutting board. I think I could have been more clear in my first response about "wiping". By wiping the blade, I mean something like what Martin Yan doing is this video at 3:35 minutes. I don't do it between every slice. I am sure he is not the only one doing this. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a good video of someone else doing it. Here:

          http://youtu.be/0kB_Gl_8v-4?t=3m33s

        2. re: Chemicalkinetics
          dcrb Apr 9, 2012 10:40 AM

          Food sticking on a knife is an annoyance as you say. And if you use a food processor, a lot of product will pack up on on side of the bowl as well. Patience and perseverance will eventually prevail. And ruining a meal? Who hasn't. We all have. That is why you never cook with a wine or beer that you would not drink.

          Seriously, nothing and no one in this world is perfect. You will develop your own techniques for getting things done in the kitchen and they will be good, wonderful, and uniquely you. Enjoy the adventure.

          1. re: dcrb
            Chemicalkinetics Apr 9, 2012 11:05 AM

            <That is why you never cook with a wine or beer that you would not drink.>

            :D It took me a second on that one. Funny.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
              dcrb Apr 9, 2012 11:28 AM

              Sometimes you just have to put yourself in the old timeout corner and settle down. Frustration makes a lousy sauce.

        3. suzigirl Apr 8, 2012 01:52 PM

          Have you tried the hollow-edged santoku style knife? It reduces drag. The ceramic are especially nice. My favorite. What are you using? Just curious.

          3 Replies
          1. re: suzigirl
            Chemicalkinetics Apr 8, 2012 02:01 PM

            When you say "hollow edged", do you mean a hollow grind like this?

            http://www.knifeprocutlery.com/static/images/shop/hollow-grind.jpg

            or do you mean something like this?

            http://www.chefscatalog.com/product/2...

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
              suzigirl Apr 8, 2012 03:09 PM

              I mean the latter, not the hollow grind. It keeps an edge longer in my opinion.

              1. re: suzigirl
                cowboyardee Apr 8, 2012 03:30 PM

                Those hollows can also be called 'grantons.' They reduce resistance while cutting a little bit. Usually though, it's not super effective at keeping food from sticking to the blade - not as effective as the geometry of the knife that Chem linked to above in the second youtube video, for example. A minimal difference at best, for 99% of knives with grantons.

                OTOH Glestain makes a knife that really exaggerates the effect of grantons and it is more effective in terms of keeping food from sticking to the blade.
                http://japanesechefsknife.com/GLESTAIN2.html

                I agree with chem that knife geometry can play a big factor, but you really have to go looking for knives that are made to discourage sticking - most Japanese knifemakers and pretty much all Western makers don't design a chefs knife that really uses geometry as a major way of preventing sticking. The easiest fix is to work on technique. The 'drawing cut' chem linked to above is effective. For other cutting motions, you can use the index finger of your off hand to reach over the spine and keep cut food from sticking and piled neatly. Or practice 'wiping' the blade by kind of tilting it against your cutting board without losing your rhythm.

                Here's a vid that shows using your off hand index finger to help keep food stacked neatly. Look at about 0:35
                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ML5flg...
                That's a little slow and a bit awkward but you can do it faster and more smoothly with practice.

          2. s
            sueatmo Apr 8, 2012 05:45 PM

            If I am chopping celery or carrots, I just keep going. Eventually I'll stop and flick the sticking food off, or "wipe" the blade against the board. If I am slicing cheese, then that's a whole different story. I just have to rinse the blade off in hot tap water in that case.

            1. s
              shezmu Apr 9, 2012 01:21 AM

              "Still ruin dinner about 50% of the time."

              Define "ruin". Dinner still doesn't come out like I want it to often, but it comes out edible most of the time. At least that's what my knife says. :p

              On topic, I splash my knife with a hit of water every here and then when cutting something sticky. Seems to work fine and it seems to make knife clean-up easier for me. Also seems to make the knife *seem* sharper, probably due to less sticking. Could be a placebo though. I should put out that I'm using a stainless knife, keeping water on your carbon knives may be a problem.

              1 Reply
              1. re: shezmu
                TeRReT Apr 9, 2012 04:05 AM

                For rice and sushi they use the water trick, don't see why it wouldn't work for other things, I'd suggest that as well. Potatoes and other starchy vegetables are usually the worst culprit, water keeps the starch from sticking to the knife as much. Keeping the knife moving forwards or backwards at the same time as down instead of straight down also helps to keep the food moving and give it more of a chance of coming off.

              2. s
                sueatmo Apr 9, 2012 09:25 AM

                I would hate to eat the dinners I cooked 40 years ago now! Just keep on cooking. Cooking is a skill. And I note, that many of my children's generation haven't really learned to cook from their moms. So its like they start from scratch in their mid twenties. Five years from now, you will have a solid start on a life skill that you will keep developing throughout your life. And five years from now, your meals will be really good, almost all the time.

                1 Reply
                1. re: sueatmo
                  Chemicalkinetics Apr 9, 2012 09:28 AM

                  <I would hate to eat the dinners I cooked 40 years ago now>

                  Now, I know you are at least 41. :)

                  <And five years from now, your meals will be really good, almost all the time.>

                  I don't recall my meals taste really good after 5 years of cooking. :)

                2. j
                  JavaBean Apr 10, 2012 08:36 AM

                  Hi,
                  Try using a knife with a blade height that is shorter than the food your cutting. Or use a draw cutting stroke. As you draw the knife toward you, use the tip of the knife to cut the bottom portion of whatever you’re cutting closest to you last. Keep the blade moving and elevate the handle slightly to finish the cut.

                  18 Replies
                  1. re: JavaBean
                    s
                    smkit Apr 10, 2012 12:10 PM

                    Good point about cutting with knives that are shorter than the food you are cutting. You can also use different parts of the blade to achieve the same thing (depending upon the knife shape). Towards the tip the blade is narrower than the heel, so you'll have different sticky issues.

                    I like the video of Salty that Chem linked to. He also has three interesting videos dealing with a variety of knives with different grinds to show how it affects food release. It won't help with your current knives, but it is illuminating nevertheless.

                    http://youtu.be/E7XTGYY4yE0 (The Grind
                    )http://youtu.be/LF2VFo1_yrQ (The Grind II
                    )http://youtu.be/FXviazyA0yg (The Grind Continued)

                    1. re: smkit
                      j
                      JavaBean Apr 11, 2012 07:08 AM

                      Thanks for posting those great videos. It’s pretty amazing to see the effects of the different knife grinds on so many different knives.
                      Some additional things that I’ve noticed is foods don’t stick so much with knives that tend to wedge / push the food away from blade, highly polished mirror like blade finishes seem worse than less polished finishes, and grantons don’t seem to help.

                      1. re: JavaBean
                        s
                        smkit Apr 11, 2012 09:24 AM

                        Yeah, a 'wedgy' knife can be good for food release, but they stink when it comes to cutting large dense veggies. I have a hunter that I would say has a wedge geometry and I like using it when cubing meat. The geometry cleaves the meat nicely and sticks less than my thinner chef knives.

                        I also have a kids mini chef knife that I ordered from Japan. The wedge geometry surprised me at first, but when I tried it on a cucumber that my kid would cut, it worked really nice and the slices fell away. It struck me then that it would be better for kids as they wouldn't be trying to pull stuck food off a blade with delicate tiny fingers.

                        1. re: smkit
                          cowboyardee Apr 11, 2012 09:39 AM

                          The current consensus logic over at the knife forums (which is notoriously subject to change) is that there is a kind of mythical sweet spot that balances thinness at a knife's edge (and thus low resistance when cutting) and thicker convex geometry in the lower part (edge side as opposed to spine side) of the knife (thus helping with food release) that makers should strive for.

                          Personally, I suspect there's always going to be a trade-off between cutting resistance and food release, though there are certainly ways to enhance food release without make a knife super thick and wedge-y. The shame of a lot of thicker, western-made knives is that they aren't designed to enhance food release, even though that could be a major upside of their geometry, given their thick sturdy edges.

                          1. re: cowboyardee
                            s
                            smkit Apr 11, 2012 10:49 AM

                            Fully agree on the trade off. I have one of the Ealy's in the 'grind' videos above and it has that type of grind. At first the chunkiness of the blade was off-putting, but I have come to appreciate it for it's food release. I have a custom suji coming in this week too with an 'experimental' grind that also plays with this exact trade-off.

                            1. re: cowboyardee
                              Chemicalkinetics Apr 11, 2012 10:52 AM

                              Agree. Whatever works. The things is that it is a very difficult tradeoff to optimize. Not only everyone has different preference, but every food is different.

                              The grind required to get potato to not stick to the blade is different thatn that of a lettuce, and the grind required to slice through a potato without wedging resistance is different than that of a lettuce.

                              There just isn't a perfect grind for everyone and every foods.

                            2. re: smkit
                              j
                              JavaBean Apr 11, 2012 12:13 PM

                              Do you guys have picture or diagram of less sticky and a more sticky type of grind? I get the gist of what you guys are saying, but a picture would help a lot.

                              1. re: JavaBean
                                cowboyardee Apr 11, 2012 12:53 PM

                                One way to think of it is in terms of the face side of a yanagiba - it uses multiple bevels to form an edge face that functions like it was convex (though it uses multiple flat bevels instead). This allows you to cut fish very thin without risking that it sticks and is then deformed by peeling it off the blade - it pushes food away from the blade surface.

                                Now, a gyuto that has good food release uses some of the same principles; the geometry isn't the same, but it's a lot easier to find a diagram of yanagiba geometry than it is to find a diagram of a gyuto whose geometry emphasizes food release:
                                http://www.google.com/imgres?start=18...

                                ETA: in one of salty's videos, Carter's funyaki performs well in terms of food release. I believe this is because that knife has some geometry in common with a yanagiba.

                                1. re: JavaBean
                                  s
                                  smkit Apr 11, 2012 01:13 PM

                                  Below is an image from KnifeForums of different grinds. The flat grind tends to be sticky and wedge, where the convex on the right less so. In Salty's videos up thread the Delbert Ealy blade that performed very well is sort of like the scandi grind but the last lower part where it tapers to the edge is convexed much like the slight curve in Cowboy's image (but on both sides). It tends to cleave the food more. BUT if the blade gets too thin you lose the ability to have that pronounced curve near the edge. The Ealy blade is a bit 'planky' on top so it doesn't slice like a laser, but it is very good for food release. Once again, the trade off.

                                   
                                2. re: smkit
                                  j
                                  JavaBean Apr 11, 2012 02:24 PM

                                  Thanks guys. We're talking about a convex or clamshell bevel -- like on my yanagiba…duh. That type of gind does push the food away from the blade. But, putting a convex bevel (that extends up the side of the blade) on a double bevel knife requires a sort of thick blade...right?

                                  1. re: JavaBean
                                    s
                                    smkit Apr 11, 2012 02:38 PM

                                    It doesn't have to be thick at all -- not like a yanagi. The convexing is really subtle. Check out this picture.

                                     
                                    1. re: JavaBean
                                      kaleokahu Apr 11, 2012 02:40 PM

                                      Hi, javabean:

                                      Yes and no. I think The truth is that blades that are truly convex from spine to edge are pretty rare. Most "convex" bevels are forged nearly flat (tapered, of course) to relatively near where the final edge will be and then made more convex by judicious and artful grinding.

                                      So, 'yes' if you want enough effecive convexity to run near full-height and push the food off. But 'no' if the convexity is short. The difference is measured in hours standing at the wheel--grind, quench, wipe, look until your spouse threatens divorce.

                                      Or maybe I misunderstood your meaning. What do you consider thick?

                                      Aloha,
                                      Kaleo

                                      1. re: JavaBean
                                        Chemicalkinetics Apr 11, 2012 04:08 PM

                                        <But, putting a convex bevel (that extends up the side of the blade) on a double bevel knife requires a sort of thick blade...right?>

                                        Some level of thickness is required, but it does not have to super thick. Then, there is a trade off between how convex you want vs how thin the overall blade to be.

                                      2. re: smkit
                                        j
                                        JavaBean Apr 11, 2012 08:16 PM

                                        Thank guys. It took me awhile, but I think I finally get it. “wink, wink, nudge, nudge,”

                                        SMKIT, the picture helped a lot. At first, I thought it was some sort of ½ blade scandi grind, but could see the convexing with my reading glasses. The hump is really subtle.
                                        .
                                        kaleokahu, I’ve always affiliated convex grinds to outdoor knives and was envisioning a more pronounce hump that would require a blade as thick as German knife. I’ve done it once to a pocketknife via sandpaper & a mouse pad. I’m not sure it would work on my thinner blades and wouldn’t want to try it a longer blade without some sort of powered tools.

                                        Chemicalkinetics, I get your comments now, and agree there’s going to some tradeoffs.

                                  2. re: JavaBean
                                    scubadoo97 Apr 10, 2012 12:37 PM

                                    Yes good points. I'm playing with a Tojiro Shirogami 150mm petty. Cute little knife that takes a wicked edge and is a bunch of fun to use as well as being inexpensive. Food flies off the blade and I find myself chopping much faster through onions and small vegetables.

                                    1. re: scubadoo97
                                      j
                                      JavaBean Apr 11, 2012 07:59 AM

                                      I’ve read a lot nice things about Tojiro white. I’m curious about the kritisuke knife and hoping they’ll come out with a sujihiki. How's the reactiveness to onions?

                                      I have a Tanaka blue petty. Although it needed some refinements at first, I really like the mini-me gyuto shaped blade. Aside for some slight resistance from the spine, it cuts so effortlessly. I don’t notice any wedging or food sticking issues. Plus the blue steel takes an incredible edge.

                                      1. re: JavaBean
                                        scubadoo97 Apr 11, 2012 02:08 PM

                                        The reactivity with onions is pretty nil. I'm getting no discoloration. Not sure if I let them sit on the board for an hour if they would show some.

                                        1. re: scubadoo97
                                          j
                                          JavaBean Apr 11, 2012 02:41 PM

                                          That’s good to know. I find the Damascus cladding on the tanaka to be a pita. It looks nice, but w/o a patina it does funny things to acid foods. Eventually, I’ll grow tired of trying to preserve it and just let it patina.

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