In most kitchens, the chef's knife is the workhorse. If you're buying kitchen knives one at a time, this is the place to start. It is used for a wide range of tasks including slicing and chopping vegetables and chopping meat.
As you might expect, there is a learning curve involved. Many people are not used to using such a large knife regularly in the kitchen. An ideal chef's knife has a blade about 8 to 10 inches long.
As a general rule of thumb, measure the distance from the inside of your elbow to your wrist and this will be the best blade length for you. When you're shopping around, be aware that the lengths given are just for the blade, not the entire knife. For example, if you see a chef's knife marked 8 inches, it means the blade is 8 inches long.
Add the handle and you're talking maybe a foot or so. Blade width is a key consideration. Proper technique for chopping or dicing is to hold the food in the hand without the knife, with the fingers bent and the side of the blade resting on the knuckles.
This can be problematic if the blade is too narrow. Also pay attention to the heel of the knife. This is the part of the blade that extends from the handle to the blade.
The heel is what keeps your knuckles from touching the cutting board or butcher block. If you have thick fingers, you'll want a deep heel. As useful as it is, a chef's knife isn't perfect for everything.
You'll need something else for things like peeling fruit or handling very dense meat. That said, once you get used to using it, you'll find yourself using it a lot. With excellent balance and a sharp edge, this knife handles everything from carrots to potatoes with ease.
The handle is 4.72 inches long and over a foot in overall length. It has a deep heel to protect your knuckles when you're chopping veggies for dinner. The handle is a bit boxy to help index the knife properly in the hand.
general purpose knife With a blade length between 4 and 7 inches, it is between the size of a chef's knife and a paring knife. The blade is thin and narrow, giving it great flexibility and making it ideal for a variety of tasks, including chopping herbs, chopping meat, and preparing vegetables. If you want to create charcuterie boards for entertaining, this knife will be your new best friend.
Sometimes called a "sandwich knife," it's an all-purpose tool and a great knife for general food preparation. However, it is not suitable for mass chopping or carving of larger meats, such as roasts or whole birds. You sometimes hear a utility knife referred to as a pocket knife.
While similar in purpose, they are actually two different styles of more or less the same knife. Traditional pocket knives are simply the Japanese version of utility knives. The design is more triangular and has a deep and defined heel.
Western-style utility knives have a narrower shape. The two styles have been somewhat blurred over the years, and you'll sometimes see a model that's a mix of the two. The main consideration when buying a kitchen utility knife is length.
I tend to like them a bit longer, so prefer the 6" model. However, many people prefer shorter 4 or 5 inch knives. Honestly, it's all a matter of personal preference.
There is no real advantage to having a longer or shorter knife other than simple reach. skin-peeler All of the slicing and chopping described so far has been done with some sort of cutting board. However, there are some chores that are best performed while you hold the item in your hand, such as peeling an apple.
Attempting this maneuver with a chef's knife is a dangerous proposition, to say the least. Enter the paring knife. It's the perfect tool for working with small fruits and vegetables, including peeling said fruit, as well as dividing oranges and removing the stems from strawberries.
Paring knives are small, usually with a blade length of 4 inches or less. I've found that a 3.5" blade is my favorite thing about a paring knife. When dealing with something as small as a garlic clove, it's more than enough to get the job done without being a hassle.
The thing to look for when shopping for a paring knife is the size and shape of the handle. If you have particularly large hands, you'll want something with a full-size handle. Otherwise, the knife may get lost in your grip.
Handles that are too narrow can also cause hand cramps after prolonged use. boning knife As the name suggests, this is the knife you'll use when dealing with large cuts of meat. With a long, thin, semi-flexible blade, it's not meant to cut through bones, it's meant to go around them.
It's great for removing fat and skin from meat, such as pork tenderloin, before cooking. You can also use it when carving a Thanksgiving turkey as well as breaking down a whole chicken. Since you'll be dealing with blood and juices when carving meat, it's important that the boning knife has a good support.
This is what keeps your fingers from slipping from the handle onto the blade. For the same reason, make sure the handle has good traction so you can maintain a solid grip. The blade on a boning knife is usually about 5 to 7 inches long.
If you do a lot of roasts or big birds, choose longer, just to make your life easier. serrated knife Of all the knives on our list, this one will probably see the least amount of use in the average kitchen. But, by the same token, the jobs it was designed to handle cannot be easily done any other way.
Sometimes called a "bread knife," the serrated blade is really good for slicing a loaf of toast. It will cut through the tough crust without crushing the whole thing into a pancake. Serrations are also a good choice when cutting something that is resistant rather than malleable, such as tomato skins.
The basic idea behind sawtooth is divide and conquer. All the little points and the gullet, the space between the points, divides the work of cutting and distributes the forces involved. The end result is the ability to cut material without applying a lot of downward pressure.
Since this is a less frequently used knife than other kitchen utensils, I wouldn't recommend spending money on it. In fact, if your serrated knife has become dull, you can throw it away and buy a new one, because it can take a decade or more to happen. Of course, it's not impossible to sharpen a serrated knife, but it's more labor-intensive than many people might want to tackle.
Choose something with a roughly 10-inch blade, as this will give you enough cutting edge for bread and other foods. Remember that you'll be sawing the knife back and forth, so you'll need enough blade length to make the process easier.
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