Knife Education - Types of Kitchen Knives and their Uses
Kitchen Knife Education Guide
By Everything Kitchens
Does your entire cutlery collection consist of steak and butter knives? Or have you spent years buying the cheapest, nameless knives from big box stores and are tired of crushing things instead of slicing them? Choosing the right knives for your kitchen may seem like a daunting task when you consider how many knives exist on the market, however, we've broken each knife down to its core functions to make finding the right knife for you easier than ever. In this article, we'll review some must-have blades for building your cutlery collection and others built for specific tasks that will add more versatility to your kitchen.
Chef's Knife | Cook's Knife
The chef's knife, also known as a cook's knife is ideal for slicing, chopping, and mincing both meats and vegetables. Designed with a curved blade that is ideal for mincing and capable of handling a variety of ingredients, you can use this knife for a vast array of prep tasks. Due to its ubiquitous nature, we recommend the chef's knife be one of the first knives you choose when building your collection and suggest it be the knife in which you invest the most.
Serrated Bread Knife
Despite the name, a serrated bread knife is not just for slicing up loaves of bread. The serrated teeth of this blade are specially designed to grip food and keep it in place so that the blade can slide through cleanly without crushing or damaging it. This design makes it perfect for several unique kitchen tasks, from slicing into soft fruits and vegetables to cutting a cake. This unique knife is a great way to round out your cutlery collection, and an indispensable tool for those who work heavily with soft ingredients as well as baked goods.
The paring knife is your best choice for any task that requires precision. Paring knives are smaller than other knives with short, straight blades that are perfect for trimming meat and peeling fruit and vegetables. Paring knives are a good auxiliary knife for home chefs and should make their way into your collection once you have your primary knives purchased.
Often forgotten but a vital part of maintaining a functional cutlery collection, the honing steel is a must-have when you're building your knife collection. Honing steels are designed to be used every time you use your knives and gently bend the edge of the knife back to its original shape, stopping it from curling and dulling. Honing steels are most commonly made from steel or ceramic material, both working equally well to keep your blades in top working condition. We highly recommend getting a honing steel for your kitchen to avoid losing expensive knives to time and wear, a single honing steel can save you countless dollars over the years.
Contrary to popular belief, you should only sharpen your knives once or twice a year, think of it as an annual physical for your cutlery. Sharpening knives actually removes metal from the knife’s edge and creates a new, sharper edge, so over-sharpening will make your knives brittle and prone to breaking. On the flip side, not sharpening knives at all leaves them dull and essentially useless. Purchasing a sharpener and taking the time to maintain your knives once or twice a year will extend the lifespan of your cutlery and ensure that you get the most out of your knives. Do your research, learn more about the blades you have and what sort of sharpening they require, and then give us a call, we're happy to help you find what you need so you can keep the knives in your kitchen performing for years to come.
The Santoku is an alternative to the traditional chef's knife. While chef's knives feature rounded blades perfect for rocking motions needed to dice and mince foods, the Santoku blade employs a forward-slicing motion and features a Granton edge that facilitates airflow. This specialized edge makes slicing through everything from vegetables to meat much easier than with a straight blade. Outside these design variations, the Santoku knife, like its western counterpart, is a great all-around blade for your kitchen and we recommend it for anyone wanting a well-rounded cutlery collection.
When it comes to knives that do more, the Utility knife is in a class all its own - it does anything. Coming in serrated and straight-edged variations, utility knives are designed to handle miscellaneous tasks around your kitchen. From slicing sandwiches to opening packages, utility knives are a go-to blade you'll be reaching for and reusing over and over again. Every kitchen needs a utility knife for those unique tasks that don't quite suit the rest of your collection.
Boning knives feature long, slender blades specifically designed to break down large cuts of meat and make trimming off silverskin a simple task. Boning knives come in two main variations, the flexible boning knife, and the stiff boning knife. A flexible boning knife is great for those who need to perform de-boning tasks while stiff boning knives are better suited for breaking down large cuts of meat into primal cuts. If you're a chef who works with meat, the boning knife is going to make everyday tasks easier and is worth adding to your collection as soon as you can.
Slicing | Carving Knives
Slicing and carving knives are extra-long knives with narrow blades that slide easily through thicker cuts of meat with the help of their Granton edges. While they are designed for similar purposes, these two knives have some key differences. Slicing knives come to a pointed end designed to work around bones while carving knives are rounded at the end and have a flat blade designed for boneless meat like brisket. If you plan on carving up mean throughout the year, we recommend adding at least one of these knives to your collection.
A must-have for any home cook, kitchen shears are dedicated to making your life easier. With sharper blades than average scissors, sometimes even serrated, kitchen shears are designed to have countless functions. From breaking down a whole chicken to opening packages to cutting herbs to tightening screws and prying cans open, a good pair of kitchen shears is an indispensable piece of your cutlery collection. Given their extreme versatility and wide price range, we recommend you don't skip adding this piece to your cutlery collection and invest in getting a pair of shears that will be around for years to come.
Cleavers are going to be the heaviest knife in your kitchen as they are designed to cut through bones and hard fruits and vegetables with ease. Cleavers come in a couple of popular designs; the traditional western cleaver is designed for tough ingredients while the Chinese Cleaver is used more as an alternative chef's knife. The wide blade of either cleaver style is made to do all the work for you, making this knife indispensable to cooks who plan to work with challenging or bulky ingredients. We advise not skipping out on this special piece when building your cutlery collection; a good cleaver can cut prep times as well as ingredients.
If you love to prepare fresh fish you need a fillet knife in your kitchen. This knife has a flexible, thin blade perfect for deboning fish and working through the soft meat to create beautiful fillets. The unique shape of the blade and thin construction ensures that you can slice just beneath the skin and get the most out of your fish in a single pass. Unlike thicker knives which may leave fish in tatters, fillet knives allow you to cut down fish like a professional and are a must-have for anyone who works with fresh or whole fish regularly.
Don't let choosing the cutlery for your kitchen intimidate you, every knife has a purpose and once you know what you need your knives to do, finding the right knife is easy. Our site features numerous cutlery brands that make knives of every style, shape, and function and we're dedicated to helping you find the right ones for your kitchen. Have more questions? Want to learn more about a specific type of knife? Give us a call and we'll help you in any way we can.