As with any craft, cooking requires the right tools are required to ensure each job is completed correctly. When it comes to cooking, tasks such as deboning fish, chopping a leg of mutton, or mincing herbs all require a specific knife to be effectively executed.
You could take an axe to that mutton leg or crush herbs with a butcher’s cleaver, but why compromise when there’s an array of specialized kitchen tools that will do the job easier and faster while leaving a smaller mess to clean up?
Different Kinds of Kitchen Knives
As their name suggests, kitchen knives are specialty blades used for cutting in a kitchen environment. Their dimensions, the materials they’re made out of, and their shapes are all conducive to working with a wide variety of food items.
It’s a testament to its versatility that most times you reach for a kitchen knife, you’re going to want a chef’s knife. This is the mainstay of your kitchen arsenal and, if you maintain its sharpness, it will slice, chop, and cut almost every edible thing under the sun. It has a long and wide blade, which is curved so that it can be rocked while cutting.
Chef’s knives aren’t good at slicing through bones, and that’s where the cleaver comes in. Weighty, big, and thicker than the average knife, it passes through bones with one decisive strike, leaving it intact and without harmful splinters.
The boning knife separates meat from bones and leaves both intact. It is thin and able to follow along curved paths. It is the most flexible kitchen knife.
The paring knife is meant for work more delicate than the chef’s knife can handle. Its tiny blade can be controlled with more finesse and is useful for tasks like decorating a garnish or peeling the skin off of a tomato. If a paring knife is too small for you, there’s always the utility knife, a smaller version of the chef’s knife.
The last important type of knife to take note of is the bread knife, or the serrated knife. It applies the principle used to saw wood to bread and other foods a straight edge would have problems holding on to.
Other than these there are carving knives, slicing knives, peeling knives, filleting knives and many more, but the knives mentioned above will get you off to a good start.
Materials Used to Make Kitchen Knives
The blade is a knife’s most important component, and its edge is used and worn out in the cutting process. It should be as sharp as possible for as long as possible and different materials used in creating the blade have different sets of properties that affect this.
Steel is the material of choice for the majority of knife manufacturers. It falls into two broad categories – high carbon and stainless. The former is harder, has better edge retention, and is arguably easier to sharpen correctly.
The latter is softer, has better rust resistance, and won’t leave a metallic taste when cutting. Knives made from ceramic are also gaining popularity. They are the hardest of all and but also the most brittle, so take care not to drop one! Still, they are sharper than a carbon steel knife and will keep their edge longer.
As for handle materials, these include steel, wood, and plastic. Steel handles can either be welded onto the blade or are made from the same piece of metal, which provides superior balance. Wooden handles are classic and very attractive, but need special care. Plastic is cleaner and easier to maintain than wood. After a while it can become brittle, though. Whichever handle material you go for, make sure that the handle itself is ergonomic and fits firmly in your hand.
Kitchen knives are tools used daily to enrich our lives with nutritious and tasty meals, most of which are far healthier than fast food. Mastering the use of a kitchen knife is a life skill that will make you a more well-rounded person. Knowing more about kitchen knives is the first step on what can become an unforgettable culinary journey.