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Know your knives

Know your knives

KNOW YOUR KNIVES 

Let’s talk about Knives in your kitchen. Knives are an important part of any kitchen. Although for professionals, you could spend hundreds and thousands of dolIars on a knife, in our eyes, for a domestic kitchen you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars for a good knife. You can get great Cook’s knives (size 18cm to 21cm) ranging from $10 to over $300. For us, the most important thing is that you feel comfortable with your knife.

All purpose knives

The handle of a knife is sometimes referred to as the “scales”. The handle of your knife should be solid and rounded at the edge. You should be able to cut and chop without your knuckles touching the surface. It should be comfortable to hold. You can choose handles with wood, steel or plastic. It is important for handles made with wood or plastic that the steel part is completely covered by either the wood or the plastic part of the handle like a sandwich. It is secured by three handle fasteners. Your handle should be able to withstand heat and water. For wood handles you can oil them with olive oil, linseed oil or Danish oil, this will prevent the wood from drying out or cracking.

Now let’s look at a few things about knives which will give you an idea about the major types of knives and utility of each.

Stainless steel vs Carbon steel

A professional chef might choose a carbon steel knife and a home cook may pick a stainless steel knife. Both types of knives are good to use when you prepare your food.

Stainless steel knives are durable, do not rust easily, and are easy to store.

Carbon steel is a softer material due to the higher carbon content. This means that these knives can be honed to a very sharp edge, this gives the knife a high precision cut result. This knife needs to be sharpened more often and should be washed and dried as you can to avoid the egg from rusting.

 

Paring knife

Is a small versatile knife handy for peeling and trimming fruit, potatoes, and other vegetables.

 

Filleting knife

This is a good knife to use for precise work with raw meat, fish or chicken. It is a very flexible member of the boning knife family. You can use this knife when removing skin from fish, butterflying meats or slicing chicken fillets into thin slices. It gives good control and aids in filleting any type of meat, chicken or fish.

Fillet knives

Fillet knives

Chef’s knife

This knife is very versatile and can handle many different types of foods and textures. It is great for chopping and dicing vegetables, fruit, and herbs. As well as cutting a variety of other ingredients like meat, poultry, and fish. A Chef knife is usually about 20 – 25 cm long. We find we use this knife more than all the other knives.

 

Bread knife

A good bread knife will have a blade of over 20 cm. The serrated edge of this knife helps cut through a loaf of bread as well as ingredients like raisins or olives. A bread knife can be a great knife to slice tomatoes thinly as it gives you great precision without squashing the tomato or used for thought vegetables like pumpkin. A bread knife can also be used to level off a cake or cut through a cake on an horizontal angle or help you with breaking up blocks of cooking chocolates.

Now that you know what to look for when purchasing a set of knives that you feel comfortable with, it is time to have a look at caring for your knives.

Pull-apart food scissors

Note exactly a knife, but a good pair of food scissors are good for cutting chicken around the bones. The scissors can also be used for cutting herbs or snipping bacon into pieces or cutting pizza slices. They generally pull apart for easy cleaning and are handy for most kitchen jobs, including opening packaging.

 

4 most important kitchen knives
4 most important kitchen knives

 

 

How to care for your knife

Once you’ve got a knife that works for you it’s important to take good care of it. Always make sure you use a chopping board that’s softer than the knife blade, such as wood or plastic, to avoid blunting or getting nicks in the blade. 

Knives need to be sharpened from time to time to keep the cutting edge fine. While stone sharpening is the best method, you can also use honing steels or pull-through sharpeners. Eventually, though, they’ll need to be professionally sharpened. Most good cookware shops offer this service. 

Keep your knives clean and store them in a knife block, or use a guard to protect the blade from being knocked and chipped if they’re in a drawer. Don’t leave food to dry on the blade, as some foods contain acid that can permanently stain it. 

Hand wash your knives. Some manufacturers claim their products are ‘dishwasher-safe’ but they still recommend hand washing. Some detergents can be too harsh so if you want to be on the safe side, hand washing is the way to go.

 

Storing your knives

You should never store your knives in a drawer. You might like to use a knife block, a magnetic strip mounted on your wall, wooden knife docks or material pockets to store your knives.

 

Honing steel

You can use a honing still to keep a good fine cutting edge on your knives. There are other things such as a sharpening steel that you can use keep your knife sharp.

 

Honing tool and knife sharpener
Honing tool and knife sharpener

 

Lastly, some tips on knife-care 

  1. Always keep your knife dry and clean!
  2. Hand wash with warm water.
  3. Never put your knife in the dishwasher or leave it soaking in water.
  4. Carbon steel knives require a few extra steps to maintain your blade.
  5. Carbon steel is particularly reactive to high acid products.
  6. Use a wooden or plastic chopping board
  7. Sharpen your knives regularly!

 

Meat Clever and fillet knife
Meat Clever and fillet knife

 

Do you have any personal tips when it comes to choosing a knife or caring for knives? Please let us know in the comments below.

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