How to Chop a Parsnip – into chunks

If you haven’t already, please make sure you’re familiar with basic knife safety before starting this tutorial. (link)

Parsnips are a funny-looking vegetable – they’re a bit like carrots but much paler and their shape is kind of exaggerated. Parsnips are quite soft for a root vegetable, and they have a unique flavour. In this tutorial, we’ll be making parsnip chunks.

Just like with carrots, it’s best if you can avoid peeling your parsnips to preserve the mineral content. Rinse them off under clean running water, and give them a scrub with a clean washing-up brush if they need it.

Chop the very top and bottom off the parsnip. When you chop the top off, check for for brown discolouration inside. If there is any, just chop a little bit more off the top.

Hand drawing of a parsnip showing cutting guidelines (grey dotted lines)

(If there are any other blemishes, you can cut a small ‘V’ shape either side of the blemish to get rid of it, just like with carrots.)

The shape of a parsnip makes it a little harder to cut chunks all the same size. Remember, we’re aiming for chunks about 2cm (a little under an inch) on each side. So I would start from the skinny end of the parsnip, like in the picture below.

Hand drawing of a parsnip showing cutting guidelines (grey dotted lines)

When you reach the top of the parsnip, place it on its flat surface to cut it into thirds or quarters, depending how wide it is. Hand drawing of a parsnip chunk showing cutting guidelines (grey dotted lines)

Chunks of parsnip are great in roasts, but they’re good in casseroles and stews too. Because they’re soft, parsnips only take an hour to cook in an oven at Gas Mark 4 (180°C, 160°C in a fan oven). Once they’re cooked, parsnips should be soft enough to easily poke a fork into.

A photograph of roast parsnip chunks on a blue-grey plate

How to Chop a Sweet Potato – into chunks

If you haven’t already, please make sure you’re familiar with basic knife safety before starting this tutorial. (link)

Sweet potatoes are a fun alternative to ordinary potatoes, or just a great vegetable in their own right! They’re softer than carrots and potatoes, so they cook more quickly too.

Although you can eat the skin of a sweet potato, it is very tough and tasteless. So this is one of the very few vegetables I would peel. This means we don’t need to check the sweet potato over for blemishes – they’ll all come off with the skin. Some people like to use a peeler, but I prefer to use a simple kinfe method which I’ve explained below.

Start by chopping the very ends off the sweet potato. Sometimes these will be little pointy root ends, and sometimes they’ll be flat (see picture below).

Hand drawing of a sweet potato showing cutting guidelines (grey dotted lines)

Next, cut the sweet potato in half widthways. This gives you a flat surface to rest the sweet potato on while you peel it. Cut thin strips of skin off from the top to the bottom, making sure to keep your fingers out of the way.

Hand drawing of half a sweet potato showing peeling guidelines (grey dotted lines)

 

Once your sweet potato is peeled, there are a couple of ways to chop it into chunks. The first is, like with potatoes, to just keep halving until you reach chunks about 2cm (a little under 1 inch) on each side. You could also start by cutting slices about 2cm thick, and then chopping each slice into chunks.

 

Sweet potato chunks

Whichever method you choose, try and make sure your chunks are all about the same size. This lets them cook at about the same time, and absorb any flavours from herbs, spices, or sauces evenly too.

These sweet potato chunks are perfect for roasts and casseroles, and take about 1 hour to cook in an oven at Gas Mark 4 (180°C, 160°C in a fan oven). Once they’re cooked, they should be soft and sweet. Beware of overcooking them though – they’ll still taste good but they tend to fall to pieces!

Photograph of roasted sweet potato chunks on a white plate

How to Chop an Onion – into chunks

If you haven’t already, please make sure you’re familiar with basic knife safety before starting this tutorial. (link)

Onions are full of flavour, which gets sweeter the longer you cook them. The chunks we’ll be chopping today are perfect for long, slow, cooking that brings out all the best in onions.

Onions can be a little tricky to chop, because of their round shape and smooth skin. I would recommend using a serrated knife to chop onions; if you prefer to use a smooth knife I would start each cut by piercing the onion with the tip of your blade.

Hand drawing of a brown onion showing cutting guidelines (grey dotted lines)

 

 

Unlike carrots and potatoes, we don’t want to eat the skin of the onion. These dry, papery layers are best peeled off and discarded, and you can pull off any little rootlets from the bottom of the onion too. You might find that this is easier to do after you’ve started cutting the onion; as long as you take off the skin before cooking it doesn’t really matter!

The first two cuts are the trickiest – we want to chop the top and bottom off the onion. Make sure to hold the onion firmly on its side, but keep your fingers out the way!

 

Hand drawing of a red onion showing cutting guidelines (grey dotted lines)

 

 

You should now have a flat surface at the bottom of the ‘ball’, which you can rest the onion on to make the rest of the cutting safer. For these chunks, simply chop the onion in half straight down the middle. Cut each half in half again, then into quarters, and you’re done!

 

 

 

When you’re chopping or cooking onions, you might find that your eyes start to sting, burn, or well up. This is because sulphur-containing compounds that give onions a lot of their flavour can react with the water in your eyes to make sulphuric acid. If it becomes hard to see, it’s important that you don’t try and keep cooking – you’re likely to hurt yourself. You might find that washing your hands, knife or onion under clean water can help your eyes sting less; just make sure to pat everything dry before you go back to chopping.

 

These onion chunks are perfect for roasts, casseroles, and stews. They take about 2 hours to cook in an oven at Gas Mark 4 (180°C, 160°C in a fan oven). Once they’re cooked, onions become soft and the layers fall apart easily.

Photograph of roast onions with sausages on a brown plate
Roast onions are great with sausages!

How to Chop a Potato – into chunks

If you haven’t already, please make sure you’re familiar with basic knife safety before starting this tutorial. (link)

Potatoes are a great source of carbohydrates, and there are a lot of different ways to cook them. The chunks we’re making in this tutorial are really versatile, so they’re a great place to start.

Hand drawing of three potatoes

Like with carrots, a lot of the minerals in a potato are right underneath the skin, so it’s best to avoid peeling it all off if you can. Do wash your potatoes though; use clean water and a clean washing-up brush for scrubbing.

 

Next, check your potato over for any discolouration or blemishes. Pay special attention to green discolouration of the potato – the green colour itself won’t hurt you, but it can indicate there’s something else there you don’t want to eat (more information here and here). Also cut out any ‘eyes’ – these are black spots surrounded by an indentation, that can grow into sprouts. Potato sprouts themselves aren’t good to eat either – cut them out and check that the potato around them hasn’t gone squishy.

Hand drawing showing three things to cut out of potatoes - black spots known as 'eyes'; sprouts (which look like pale buds coming off the potato); and green discolouration

There are a couple of good ways to cut out blemishes from a potato. The first is, just like we did with carrots, to cut a small ‘V’ shape around the spot. Since a potato is round, it’s a little harder to deal with than a carrot, so you might need to make three or more cuts. Alternatively, you might find it easier to cut out things like eyes after you’ve cut the potato a bit smaller.

Potatoes come in a lot of different sizes. The size of chunks we’re aiming for is about 2cm (a little under 1 inch) on each side, so if you have baby or new potatoes, they may not need to be chopped any smaller. For larger potatoes, start by chopping them in half. This gives you a flat surface to rest the potato on while you chop it, which makes it safer. You can then simply keep on halving your potato until the chunks are roughly the right size (see picture).

Hand drawing of a potato with cutting guideline (grey dotted line)

Hand drawing of a halved potato with cutting guidelines (grey dotted lines)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nice, even-sized chunks will cook at about the same time, and absorb any flavours from herbs, spices, or sauces evenly too.

These potato chunks are perfect for roasts and casseroles, which take about 2 hours to cook in an oven at Gas Mark 4 (180°C, 160°C in a fan oven). They’re also great boiled, which takes about 20-30 minutes. Like carrots, once they’re cooked, they should be soft enough to easily poke a fork into.

A photograph of roast potato chunks on a blue-grey plate

How to Chop a Carrot – into chunks

Welcome to the first ever How to Chop a Carrot tutorial! If you haven’t already, please make sure you’re familiar with basic knife safety before starting this tutorial. (link)

Carrots are a great staple vegetable. They’re inexpensive and you can eat them raw or cooked, which makes them perfect for beginners! In this tutorial, we’ll be making carrot chunks, which are great slow-cooked.

First, take a carrot. You don’t need to peel it (a lot of the minerals are right underneath the skin), but you might want to wash it. Use clean water to wash off things like soil, and if you want to be a bit more thorough you can scrub you carrots with a clean washing-up brush.Hand drawing of an orange carrot

Next, check your carrots over for any discolouration or blemishes. These aren’t dangerous, they just don’t taste or look very good. If they are on the end of the carrot, you can just cut the end off. If they’re in the middle of the carrot, first place the carrot flat on a chopping board or plate with the blemish facing upwards. Then make a small cut either side of the blemish, making a small ‘V’ (see picture).

Hand drawing of a carrot showing a close up of a small blemish and cutting guidelines

We also don’t want to eat the very top or bottom of the carrot. (These are often known as the top and tail – to top and tail your carrots means to chop the top and bottom off.) To avoid wasting too much carrot, only chop a centimetre or less from the end of the carrot (see the picture below).

Hand drawing of a carrot showing cutting guidelines (grey dotted lines)

Next cut along the carrot every 2cm or so, or a little under an inch, leaving the thinner chunks slightly longer and the fatter chunks slightly shorter.

Hand drawing of a carrot showing cutting guidelines (grey dotted lines)

The aim here is to get carrot chunks that are roughly the same size. This lets them cook at about the same time, and absorb any flavours from herbs, spices, or sauces evenly too.

These carrot chunks are perfect for roasts, casseroles, and stews. They take about 2 hours to cook in an oven at Gas Mark 4 (180°C, 160°C in a fan oven). You can also boil carrot chunks, which takes about half an hour. Once they’re cooked, carrots should be soft enough to easily poke a fork into.

A photograph of casseroled carrot chunks in a brown bowl