The Technique Switch To Prevent Potatoes From Sticking To Your Knife

If you've ever been frustrated by the fact that food keeps sticking to the side of your knife, you're not alone. This sticking occurs because there is surface tension between the moisture in the food and the smooth, flat side of the knife blade, which is why particularly watery veggies like potatoes are common offenders. Potatoes have the added annoyance of being quite starchy, which combines with the water, gumming up the knife for an extra sticky situation. But since we can't (and really don't want to) change the nature of the potato, we need to change our approach to how we cut them.

When we learn how to chop, most of us tend toward a momentum-conserving, up-and-down motion, but this doesn't work as well for foods where, to avoid sticking, we need to break that water tension. Fortunately, there is an easy method change that can prevent this from happening. Rather than chop the potato, slice it by pulling the knife through it instead. 

Pull, don't chop

One of the keys to reducing the amount of time the blade is in contact with the potato flesh is to keep your knife properly sharpened to make gliding through the tuber easier. This way, on a cellular level, the blade will be able to cut the potato cleanly without getting caught up and further releasing the glue-like starches. You should also use a curved rather than flat blade, i.e. a chef's or paring knife over a vegetable cleaver or Japanese nakiri knife. 

Then, when you have the potato before you on the cutting board, take your knife and pull it towards you, heel end elevated, with the tip keeping contact with the board. This makes it where the actual cutting occurs on the smallest part of the tapered blade, putting it in contact with less of the potato's surface. 

If you're unfamiliar with this method, it takes some getting used to at first, but it is a great way to develop your knife skills beyond basic chopping. And once you've got the hang of it, this simple swap of slicing is an easy solution to a common problem. So the next time you're cutting up potatoes, whether for a mash, fries, or salad, keep this little trick in mind. It will certainly keep the spuds from collecting on your knife, and make the whole process all the easier.