At the core of every chef, is a great set of knives. Now when we say “set”, we don’t mean the run of the mill knife block you got from Canadian Tire; we are talking about a curated set of knives picked for you, by you. After all, when you are working on your culinary masterpiece, your knives become an extension of your arm, so why not use the best tool for the job? The world of kitchen knives is a vast one and at first glance, overwhelming. Once I dove a little deeper I realized that kitchen knives are not a one size fits all situation. Not only do different styles of knives have different uses (obviously), but they differ in weight, material, and hardness. You don’t have to be a professional chef to have a knife collection that is right for you.
Here’s what you need to know when it comes to purchasing, maintaining and using your kitchen knives to their fullest potential.
The “best” knife doesn’t exist
The most important fact to remember about knives is that there is no such thing as the “best” knife. Shopping for knives is just as subjective as shopping for fashion, and what works for one, may not work for another. The most important thing is finding a knife that suits your needs.
Do your research
Are you looking for a Japanese or Western-style knife? What are you looking to cut, slice, or chop? Do you have a preference when it comes to the type of steel and the hardness of the blade? As you find answers to these questions, your options will become a lot clearer. Do the research online, and don’t be afraid to ask someone more knowledgeable for help!
Knife sets are a waste of space
While the temptation is real to simply invest in a knife set, I promise it is never the right choice. All that will happen is you’ll have a bulky, heavy block cluttering your beautiful countertops full of knives you don’t need and will never use. It is much better to choose your knives individually and get exactly what you need.
A petty knife is better than a paring knife
In the kitchen knife world, it is generally accepted that a paring knife is a staple for your collection. What if that was wrong? A petty knife is considered by some to be more versatile than a paring knife; it can accomplish the tasks of a boning, fillet, and chef’s knife all in one.
Everyone needs a cleaver
A cleaver is so much more than its reputation would lead us to believe. It is more than just a prop in a movie, and you can do a heck of a lot more than just the dramatic chop on the cutting board. Use the cleaver to chop, mince, or smash whatever you are cooking up for dinner. As a bonus, a cleaver is an excellent tool to shuttle ingredients from the prep area into your pot or pan.
Storage is important
Like many aspects of the kitchen knife space, not many agree on the best mode of storage for your knives. The ongoing debate continues to be block storage versus magnetic bar versus an in-drawer system. Regardless of where you store your knives, they MUST be stored clean and dry to prevent rust, staining, and corrosion.
Hold your knife properly
If you don’t know what the pinch grip is you should look it up on YouTube… go ahead, I’ll wait. Personal protection when using sharp tools is extremely important. Holding your knives properly will not only protect your fingers it will give you more control over the blade and the overall result.
Glass and knives don’t mix
Experts agree that the best cutting boards are made of wood, rubber, or plastic. Glass boards are for display only! To maintain the integrity and durability of your knives, avoid using them on glass surfaces.
A sharp knife means a happy life
Starting to feel some resistance when you are using your utensils? Not getting that smooth slice? It is time to sharpen your knives! Find a sharpener that is comfortable to control and don’t be afraid to use it when needed. The more diligently you take care of your knife collection, the longer it will last.
The best way to compare is to think of the difference between cutting and filing your fingernails. Sharpening your knife is like cutting your nails, you are removing a layer of steel to expose a new one. Honing is closer to a nail file because it simply realigns the existing edge, rather than creating an entirely new one. Honing is used as a quick fix, and is not an alternative to sharpening.
Now that you have at least the basics, you can begin curating your personalized knife collection. Having the right tool for the job will help to elevate your cooking abilities, and overall user experience.