Tomatoes are one of the most common vegetable garden plants in the U.S. If you're devoting energy this summer to caring for a tomato plant, don't waste your hard work by cutting the ripe vegetables with the wrong tools. Using the first knife you find in your kitchen to slice a tomato can leave you with a misshapen, pulpy mess, or worse—an injured finger. But if you know what you're doing, you'll end up with even tomato slices that look just as good as they taste.

According to The Kitchn, the best way to slice a tomato is with a serrated knife. Tomatoes are firm on the outside and soft on the inside, so if you try cutting them with a chef's knife, especially one that isn't very sharp, you risk crushing the fruit instead of slicing through that outer layer right way. Serrated knives are designed to "bite" into the surface of foods, which makes them the perfect match for tomatoes. They're also the best knives for slicing bread, another food with an exterior that's tougher than its interior.

In addition to being tough, tomato skins are also smooth—a.k.a. slippery. If your knife isn't sharp enough to penetrate a tomato when you apply pressure, it could slip and potentially slice open your finger. That means a serrated knife is also the safest choice for the job.

To cut a tomato into slices, place it on on a cutting board and hold it on its side. With your fingertips curled under to protect them, sink the serrated blade into the tomato, making gentle back-and-forth motions to saw all the way through it. Repeat until you've prepared the tomato into slices of your desired thickness.

Once you have perfect tomato slices, you can add them to burgers, sandwiches, or dress them with a little salt and olive oil and eat them raw. Here are more tips for optimizing your skills in the kitchen.

[h/t The Kitchn]