How to choose the right kitchen knives?

A tomato that has become a puree, meat reduced to lint or full of bone fragments: stop mistreating your food and learn how to cut it with the appropriate kitchen knives. Shape, materials, maintenance: after reading this article, you will be the samurai of the kitchens.

A knife remains a knife, as long as it cuts. After, the length of the composition of the handle, it is only a question of aesthetics.

Yes but no. Because when it comes to detailing your prime rib in front of your little friends, only armed with a paring knife, you will look very smart.

What about fruit cut with a steak knife? Yes go ahead, it’s ideal to transform them into a puree in 2 steps 3 movements.

Promise, it’s as easy as it sounds!

So put that knife down right away and let’s take a little cutlery lesson together. You can tell it to yourself at the next dinner (“what, you don’t have Santoku to detail your salmon?!” #Grosnul).

Knife anatomy

Below is the anatomy of a kitchen knife  :

  1. The extreme point of the knife
  2. Blade: Goes from the extreme point to the hilt.
  3. Wire: Sharp part which can be single (sharp on one side), double (sharp on both sides), with cells (ex: Santoku knife), saw (ex: bread knife). The finer the angle of the wire, the longer its cutting power.
  4. Back: Part opposite to the wire
  5. Guard: Opposite the point, it stops where the handle begins. It protects the hand when cutting.
  6. Ferrule: Connection between the handle and the blade
  7. Ribs: Parts surrounding the tang and used for the grip
  8. Rivets: Hold the ribs to the silk. On quality knives, the number of rivets indicates the length of the tang. But beware of low-end knives which only put them on to look pretty!
  9. Bristle: Extension of the blade in the handle. Full tang = goes to the end of the handle. Half-tang = goes up to half of the sleeve.

Difference between a forged blade and a cut blade

The forge consists in bringing a steel bar to a very high temperature to work it by exerting strong pressure. The knife is then cut using a press. In this way, it is made from a single piece of metal and has no solder points or sockets.

Conversely, the cut blade comes from a flat steel plate.

What material to choose for the blade of your kitchen knife?

There are 4 families of knives:

  • Steel knives


European standards require manufacturers of steel knives to have a minimum chromium content so that they do not oxidize.

Some manufacturers, like the German Zwilling or the Spanish Arcos, have developed improved steels (respectively Friodur® and Nitrum®) which are stainless, sharper and require much less maintenance. It is not for nothing if they are chosen by the professionals!

  • The ceramic knives

In addition to their aesthetic appearance, ceramic knives are more and more present in kitchens because they offer excellent cutting power. The second strong point is maintenance, which is almost non-existent. Indeed, ceramic knives do not need to be sharpened for several years. Be careful though: ceramic is a very solid and very brittle material. Protect it from impact and be careful never to use it on a hard surface.

It is to the Japanese brand Kyocera that we owe the first ceramic knives, created 25 years ago. Its know-how and excellence naturally pushed it to the forefront of this market.

  • Stainless steel knives

Lightweight stainless steel knives offer a good compromise between cutting performance and resistance to corrosion and oxidation.

  • Damascus steel knives

Very rich in carbon, Damascus steel knives are made of thin layers of steel folded back on themselves a number of times. This creates a very strong and extremely sharp knife. Damascus steel knives can be recognized by their unique pattern obtained by this layering work. While they are the best, they are also the most expensive on the market.

Differences between knife handle

If the knife blade is the first selection criterion, the handle should not be neglected. In fact, depending on its composition and method of manufacture, use and maintenance will not be the same.

Professionals will turn to Damascus knives with a handle fixed by direct injection kitchen knives. After being melted, the plastic is cooled and solidified around the tang of the knife, thus forming a single block. This way, there are no hollows in which food residues or bacteria could hide. Knives intended for professionals are differentiated by a colored handle or by the presence of a colored pellet, thus indicating their usefulness in meeting HACCP hygiene standards. Usually made of ABS or polypropylene, the plastic handles of professional kitchen knives are resistant to heat and detergents. They also have an anti-slip coating so they can be handled safely, even with wet hands.

Knives with a wooden handle are undoubtedly the most aesthetic, however, their maintenance can quickly turn out to be restrictive. Indeed, wood absorbs water. You must therefore wash them by hand to avoid prolonged contact with water and wipe them dry immediately.

The knife with a compress wood handle represents a good compromise compared to the previous model since it does not absorb moisture. Both individuals and professionals can wash it in the dishwasher without fear, it will not swell with humidity.

Presentation of the different types of knives 

Flexible or rigid blade, straight or curved, with cells and without… you can quickly feel lost in the face of knife shelves! Let’s see here the different models and their usefulness so that you can make an informed choice according to your needs:

  • The tomato knife

Arcos tomato knife

To cut a tomato without crushing the flesh, opt for the tomato knife with notched wire. He can cut all fruits and vegetables with fragile flesh such as plums or mirabelle plums.

  • The paring knife

Deglon paring knife 

The blade of the paring knife is short and sharp. It has a smooth wire that allows peeling and cutting small foods. Versatile, the paring knife is a must have in your drawer.

  • The universal knife

Kyocera universal knife

The blade of the utility knife is longer and wider than that of the paring knife. This allows him to cut, chop, mince, peel larger food.

  • The chef’s knife

De Buyer chef’s knife

The chef’s knife can be recognized by its long blade. If it is ideal for cutting and chopping pieces of meat with clarity, it can also do a meticulous job chopping fruits and vegetables or aromatic plants.

  • The Japanese knife , or Santoku

Santoku knife Arcos

The Santoku is the Japanese equivalent of the chef’s knife, except that it has dimples on the blade. These allow air to enter between the blade and the food, which comes off on its own.

  • The fish knife , or fillet of sole

Sole fillet knife, Arcos

Equipped with a long, thin, and flexible blade, the sole fillet knife will follow the main fishbone to lift the fillet without damaging the flesh. It can also be used to spoil meat or foie gras.

  • The boning knife

Global Boning Knife

The boning knife has a long, thin, curved blade that allows it to follow the bones to clean them and separate them from the meat.

  • The butcher paper

Arcos Butcher’s Sheet

Also called kitchen cleaver, the butcher’s foil has an XXL format and a significant weight in order to cut the carcasses in the blink of an eye by the action of leverage. Thanks to her dish, she can mash foods so that they release all their flavors.

  • The slicer

Deglon slicer knife

Roasts, prime rib, poultry: the slicer will slice the meat cleanly so that it retains its texture and its juice.

  • The bread knife

Deglon bread knife

Easy to recognize, the bread knife has a notched wire that allows it to break the crust and cut the crumb without crushing it. It is also very practical for cutting a sponge cake without breaking it too much.

  • The ham or salmon knife

Ham or salmon knife 

The ham knife has a long, thin and flexible blade. Shaped like a honeycomb, it allows you to cut thin slices of ham or salmon, which come off the blade by themselves. Once the head is sharpened, the slices can be pierced and served immediately.

Knife maintenance

When we talk about the maintenance of a knife, we immediately think of sharpening. Or sharpening. But what exactly is it?

The maintenance of a knife is done in two stages:

  • The sharpening (or sharpening)

When the knife loses its cutting power, it’s a safe bet that the cause is the dull wire. To make it effective again, you have to start by sharpening it. This action consists of removing steel by rubbing the knife against a whetstone to restore it to the correct angle. The grain of the latter will determine the speed of execution and the amount of material removed.

  • Affilage

Then comes the sharpening which gives the edge of the knife its cutting power by straightening the wire. Sharpening is done with a gun. This can be round or oval and more or less long. Regarding the size, the rifle must be larger than the knife so that the latter can slide on it over its entire length. The oval-bit shotgun fits wide blades, while the round-bit shotgun will be more effective for thin-bladed knives. Handling side, there is nothing rocket science! The edge of the knife should form an angle of 30 ° with the gun. Go back and forth, alternating the sides of the knife.

Maintaining a knife is essential for safe use. If the wire is dull, you will force the knife more than necessary, which could lead to accidents.

To preserve the sharpness of your knives, do not throw them all together in the dishwasher basket or in the cutlery drawer! These repeated micro-shocks, invisible to the naked eye, slowly but surely damage the edge of the knife.

To remedy this, wash your knives by hand after each use and without an abrasive sponge. If your dishwasher has a tray where the cutlery is laid out flat, be sure to leave enough space between each knife.

Once your knives are clean, all you have to do is store them in a knife block. This way the blades will not collide.

Finally, be careful not to use your knives on a hard surface. No glass plate, marble countertop, or slate board! A wooden, plastic, or cellulose fiber and resin cutting board is much more suitable because it will not create an impact on the knife.

Anatomy of a knife, choice of the material of the blade, and the handle, shape, and maintenance: you are unbeatable on knives! Small test: with which knife to lift a fish fillet? And to detail a sponge cake?

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