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The most dangerous vegetables to prepare

Sheryl Nadler
Shine On
June 18, 2012

The most dangerous place in your home might be your kitchen, a recent British survey reveals.

The Telegraph reports that a poll of more than 2,000 Brits revealed two in five have cut themselves trying to imitate a chef they've seen on TV. The biggest culinary culprit? Root vegetables, says the story.

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Erica Trabulsi, a chef instructor at The Culinary Arts School of Ontario says she isn't surprised by the survey results, particularly when it comes to beginner chefs who don't have a tremendous amount of experience handling knives.

"You're at risk if you're not handling the knife properly or … you're not using the proper equipment," she says. "We teach the proper way to grip the knife, which is holding on — not just to the handle, but the blade as well -- with your thumb and your first finger. Gripping the knife blade gives you a lot more control so you have less accidents."

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Trabulsi also teaches her student chefs to always sharpen their knives and hone their knives in between sharpenings.

"In the chance that you actually do cut yourself, it's a lot more of a clean cut if you have a sharper blade," she says.

So which foods topped the Most Dangerous list?

Pumpkin:

"That can definitely be dangerous because it has such a thick skin and it's so large," says Trabulsi. "And if you have a very large one it can be awkward to hold properly."

Butternut Squash:

Even though it's smaller, squash can be tricky to cut for the same reasons as pumpkin, says Trabulsi. You have to apply a lot of pressure to the knife to cut through the thick skin.

Turnips and Rutabaga:

"Cut them into small pieces first and then use a small paring knife to peel off the skin from each of the small cuts, rather than trying to peel off the skin all at once from the whole vegetable," advises Trabulsi.

Jerusalem Artichoke:

Trabulsi says these don't require peeling if you scrub them really well. But if you must, a vegetable peeler is a safer way to go.

Root vegetables aren't the only culprits of knife accidents Trabulsi has witnessed in the kitchen. She says some fruits can be just as awkward and difficult to cut as root vegetables.

Fruits to exhibit caution around?

Watermelon:

"Because it has such a thick skin and because of the size of it, it can make it really awkward to position," she says.

Exotic fruits with hard shells like durian and pineapple can also cause a beginner chef a certain amount of grief, she says. Not only can they be dangerous to cut, it can be difficult to cut them effectively without wasting much of the fruit.

Mangos can also be something of a hazard because their large pits can be tricky to cut around.

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