Kitchen Appliance Advice

Kitchen Knife Buying Advice

Knives are the most important tools in the kitchen. You use them more than you use your cookware or your range. A kitchen knife is any kind of knife that is designed to be used in food preparation in a kitchen. While much of this work can be accomplished with a few general-purpose knives, there are also many specialized kitchen knives that are designed for specific tasks.

Kitchen Knife
There are basically two styles of kitchen knives: Eastern style and Western style. Eastern style knives such as Japanese made knives are made from harder steel, the blades are significantly thinner, producing a lighter weight knife and the bevel angles are more acute. That means these knives will hold an edge longer (and also take longer to sharpen or steel) and will be sharper, requiring more maintenance. They are wonderful for cutting where accuracy is necessary such as preparing Sushi or making decorative cuts. Western style knives such as European made knives are made from softer steel (less edge holding but easier to maintain) are thicker (heavier) and have more obtuse bevel angles so that they won't get quite as sharp but the edges will be sturdier requiring less maintenance. They are outstanding at chopping even big bones and all kinds of hard meats.

It is a matter of preference and priority to choose between better cutting performance and more required maintenance (Eastern style) or somewhat less performance but easier and less frequent maintenance (Western style). Obviously a good cook will be a good cook with either style. So it is your interest to choose a light weight knife (Eastern style) or a heavier knife (Western style).

Chopping or dicing or mincing is usually done by shifting the knife like a lever with the front of the blade as a fulcrum. The food is then cut under the rear part of the blade where it is cut. This is the purview of the chef's knife and every cook should have one and learn to use it properly. The chef's knife has a wide blade to allow the cook to control it with the other hand as it rocks up and down. It is one of the basic kitchen knives and the one that most cooks use more often than other types.

Striking knives used in a manner that looks like the way one would use a club. The most common striking knife is the cleaver and it is used to sever bones and joints in meat preparation. The chef's knife is sometimes used as a striking knife to mince food using short choppy strokes with both hands holding the knife.

All other knives are slicing knives. For the most part, they are used in a back and forth fashion, sometimes against a cutting board and sometimes not. The basic slicers that are not used against cutting boards are the paring knife, the filet knife and the boning knife. The paring knife is usually held in one hand while the food to be cut is held in the other. The paring knife then can peel or make decorative cuts or it can be used in countless ways. The filet knife is used to free fish filets from the skeleton and skin. It has a thin blade and is often flexible. The boning knife is used to separate poultry from it's carcass. It is used in short slicing strokes as legs are separated from body or breasts are removed from the skeleton. If you plan to bone poultry yourself, the boning knife makes it easier and faster.

The rest of the slicers are usually used against the cutting board. They can be long slicers and carvers, short utility knives, serrated tomato or bread knives or sausage knives and on and on. Basically, they all have relatively narrow blades so that food will have less of a tendency to stick. Which ones you need is a matter of your cooking style and knife skills.

Knife handles are usually made of wood or a plastic composite. Both are good choices. The only difference is in cleaning and maintenance. Knives with wood handles deteriorate more quickly when cleaned in the dishwasher. I know experts recommend not using a dishwasher for washing knives, but I do it all the time. I'm not keen on washing sharp blades by hand. If you are doing so, please be careful that the blade would not hurt you.

Buying Tips:
Think about what kind of knife do you need to have in your kitchen? There should at least be one chopping knife, one paring knife and one slicer. The slicer could be a bread knife, as an example, which can cut more than just bread. Generally, you want the slicer to have a longer blade than the food you are cutting as a longer slicer is probably more useful than a shorter one if you will only have one. Special knives like the filet and boning knives or cleavers are only good to have if you do this kind of cutting. There is no right or wrong in choosing a knife. It is a matter of personal preference and feel. The better balanced ones will get the job done with more accuracy and comfort. Those with the best blades and high quality steel with take and hold an edge longer. If you prefer hefty knives, the bolstered models will feel better to you, if you prefer light knives, then something else is your perfect option.



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