Kitchen knives – a guide to which does what
Struggling to remember what the many kitchen knives on the market are all used for? Do you really need a whole knife block or is one super sharp knife enough? We’ve done the research so you don’t have to.
Both the quality and the price of kitchen knives vary hugely. And to add to the confusion there are countless models for countless prepping techniques to choose from. Let’s start with the storage. If you own an assortment of kitchen knives, a wooden block isn’t always the best place to keep them. Although the blades are protected, pushing knives into the block can also force in dust and crumbs. A magnetic wall strip or a drawer compartment are more hygienic options.
What should a knife do?
Ask yourself how often you cook and how advanced your cooking skills are. Usually, there’s no need for an arsenal of knives. Three main blades are a great start for entry level chefs. To chop vegetables we recommend a chef’s knife with a wide 20 cm long blade. Make sure the knife is comfortable to hold and that it’s well finished. The fewer parts, the easier it is to clean. A chef’s knife is used for cutting meat or chopping. It’s the king of kitchen knives, hence the huge selection available. Invest in a good steel alloy with chrome and vanadium to make sure your knife will last. Not only can you resharpen it, the blade stays sharper for longer.
The vegetable knife is the chef’s knife younger sister and come with an 8-10 cm blade. This is your go-to tool for peeling and precision cutting of fruit and mushrooms. It’s so versatile that every kitchen should have one.
Like baking bread? You’ll need a bread knife with a double serrated blade. Use a sawing motion to cut through fresh bread rather than squashing it down and tearing it. Clean, even slices are the result.
These three knives belong in every self-respecting kitchen. But now let’s talk about the different materials available.
Steel or ceramic?
Ceramic knives are much lighter than their steel counterparts and come in a huge choice of colours. Although they’re dishwasher safe and stay sharp for a long time they are more likely to break. Any excess force used for leverage or chopping can lead to a sudden crack. And don’t drop them either. Despite being more hard-wearing, dishwasher detergent may damage steel knives so wash them by hand where possible. They can be resharpened as often as you like though and are much less likely to break.
Other knives for gourmets
There are lots more kitchen knives for those keen to expand their collection. A cheese knife has a serrated design and a hole in the blade that prevents the cheese sticking to it. It also has two prongs at the end for picking up the cheese once cut. If you love a cheese board, this is one knife worth investing in.
Do you cook with fresh herbs? Then consider a mezzaluna. Two curved blades are arranged parallel to one another with a handle at both ends. A rocking motion expertly chops fresh herbs in the blink of an eye. Yes, there really is a knife for every job in the kitchen!
Apply the same principle to buying knives as you would to any other purchase: quality is better than quantity. Let us know what your own must-have kitchen tools are!