Kitchen Knife Guide

Written by on December 2012

Wusthof Knife Block SetWhen it comes to kitchen knives, a few are absolutely essential for meal preparation.  This guide will  help you find the right knives and cutlery for your kitchen.

What are the essential knives for your kitchen?

While there are plenty of different types of kitchen knives for different uses, the most important ones are a chef’s or cook’s knife, a paring knife, a carving or slicing knife, and a bread knife. Also, these aren’t technically knives, but a pair of quality kitchen shears and a sharpening steel are both equally important kitchen tools that are worth considering.

The chef’s knife, also known as the cook’s knife, is the workhorse of the kitchen. This type of kitchen knife comes in varying lengths and has a fine, curved blade. Chef’s knives are particularly useful for slicing and chopping vegetables and for cutting boneless meat. An alternative to the chef’s knife that’s worth considering is the santoku knife or Asian chef’s knife. The santoku serves the same purpose as a chef’s knife, but it’s made for those who prefer an up-and-down chopping motion, rather than the rocking motion traditionally used by western chefs. They have a straight blade edge that allows you to cut down to the flat surface of your cutting board. These are incredibly popular kitchen knives that make quick work of chopping veggies!

The paring knife is for smaller items such as herbs and smaller foods. This type of kitchen knife is especially useful for peeling fruits and vegetables. I use my parer at home for peeling cucumbers, garnishing carrots and other vegetables, and even for cutting cheese. They’re helpful because they’re small and easy to use.

The slicing knife is for carving roasts, hams, poultry, and other meats. Expert chefs say that when you’re carving meat, you should slice each piece with a single, smooth motion in order to achieve the best texture. Sawing cuts of meat like this isn’t recommended. Slicing and carving knives are extra long to make them ideal for this task.

The bread knife is designed to cut through hearty crusts without damaging the soft insides. It’s difficult to slice fresh-baked bread without this type of knife, especially if the loaf is still hot. A bread knife has a long, serrated blade so that you can slowly saw through whole loaves. A sawing motion is best for slicing bread, rather than applying downward pressure on the loaf. This will maintain the shape of each slice without crushing it. A quality serrated edge will let you slice through both the hard crust and the soft inside without tearing them.

Kitchen shears can make working with certain things a snap!  They’re handy for all types of jobs, including cutting open packages that won’t tear, snipping herbs, and trimming fat from meat.  For example, instead of trying to cut up the slippery poultry with a knife, kitchen shears can complete this task much more quickly.  They’re so versatile in the kitchen, you’ll wonder how you got along without them.

Sharpening steels – maintaining the sharp edge:

A sharpening steel, or honing steel, doesn’t actually sharpen, but keeps the blade aligned to prevent the knife from becoming dull. The most useful sharpening steel is one that’s one inch longer than your longest knife blade. These are also usually are offered in a block set.  To properly use a steel, give your knife an even number of swipes on each side of the knife blade. Once on the right and once on the left side of the blade, or 2 times on each side, etc. This will straighten out any burrs on the blade that have been created from regular use and keep your blade properly aligned.  We recommend that you use a sharpening steel whenever use your kitchen knives.  Just be sure to rinse the knife after honing so any metal dust generated is removed from the blade.

A knife block set for substantial savings:

A knife block set is the cheapest way to acquire all of your cutlery basics. A block set will usually save you 20%, compared to buying each item individually.  It’s just like eating at a restaurant; if you order ala carte, you will pay a lot more than if you order a multi-course meal. Many block sets include all the kitchen knife basics we’ve covered in this post to prepare you for all your cooking needs!

MetroKitchen carries a large selection of high quality kitchen knives and cutlery featuring lifetime warranties from brands like Wusthof, Zwilling JA Henckels, Global Knives, Shun, Kyocera Ceramic Knives, and more.

Next in our knife series, we discuss tips to properly maintain and safely store your kitchen knives.  Stay tuned!

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