A well-equipped kitchen is a necessity for homeowners who enjoy dining at home. Probably the most basic tool of all is the kitchen knife.
A good quality knife is one which handles well and cuts readily. Dull knives can be dangerous, as more force is needed to cut with these and thus are more prone to slipping in your hand and causing injuries. Ideally, a knife should have a sharp blade which holds its edge and is nicely balanced and durably made, with a comfortable-to-hold handle.
Forged knives are constructed from a single block of steel that’s heated and then shaped with a hammer or press. Stamped models are stamped from a larger sheet of metal. Modern stamped knives can be of a high quality indistinguishable from that of forged ones, and most cost much less. Many prefer stamped knives for their lightness and flexibility and for their ability to retain sharpness longer than softer, forged types.
Chef’s 8-inch, also known as cook’s knife, can handle most cutting tasks and is the workhorse every kitchen needs. Selecting one which feels handy with just the right amount of weight and balance and a good handle is all-important. It should be sharp enough to readily dismember a chicken or neatly cut tomatoes into thin slices.
Santoku knife is a type similar to a chef’s knife, but with a shorter thin blade and a straighter cutting edge. Indentations help keep starchy potatoes and other foods from sticking when sliced, and they are great for cutting up vegetables.
Paring knives are for more controlled, intricate work in tasks like peeling or coring fruit, cutting up smaller items like herbs, and removing the eyes of potatoes. Blade lengths normally range from 2.5 up to 4 inches, and for many the ideal size would be 3.5 inches, although those with large hands might like the longer blades.
Serrated knives are known for slicing bread, and 10-inch models will handle even the widest loaves. These are also useful for slicing tomatoes and watermelons as well as large cakes. Some serrated models come in shorter lengths which are still good for cutting small loaves but remain versatile for other jobs.
Knife sets are a popular option for those initially stocking their kitchen or wanting a variety of matching knives. Although you may not get to use every piece, many sets usually include a dedicated knife block or rack for safe storage. Some high-quality sets do come out priced less in total than if their pieces were to be bought individually.
- Sharp edge. A good knife is one that’s very sharp out of the box and will hold its edge over time. You should be able to sharpen it once it gets dull, with either a home knife sharpener or by having it professionally serviced.
- Solid build. There is rarely a difference in long-term quality between forged and stamped knives, but some users prefer the handiness of lighter stamped models.
- Comfortable handle. Simple textured plastic or steel handles more easily adapt to a wider variety of hands. Whatever knife you choose, it should fit in your hand without slipping or twisting, particularly when working with greasy ingredients which may make you hand slippery.
- Balance. The best models balance evenly in that they won’t lean to either blade or handle once in hand, making them easier to control with less effort.
- Warranty. Well-recommended knives usually feature a lifetime warranty.