As home cooks, our knives are one of the most valuable, instrumental tools in our kitchens. Buying a cheap set of knives, encased in plastic, which ironically, you would need a knife to open, is just a waste of money. Knives are the one tool where you get what you pay for.
Invest in good quality knives, which have durability sharpness and an excellent reputation.
Buying a knife should be very personal. Brands and designs vary tremendously. Some cooks like heavy knives, I actually do not, as I do not have a strong grip.
I strongly recommend buying a knife which is made from one piece of steel and has a full tang (this is where the knife handle is attached). A full tang adds weight and balance to the knife, which is helpful when cutting or chopping hard substances. Finally, the tang must be riveted.
Make sure the handle is made from plastic. A good quality knife will be water-resistant and heatproof.
You should always hold a high-end knife before buying. Try different grips and make sure it is comfortable to hold.
CARING FOR YOUR KNIVES
When cutting anything make sure the blade lands on something soft, such as a wooden or bamboo cutting board, rather than your stone or granite counter tops. It is actually the continual striking that dulls a blade, not the cutting.
Knives with wooden handles will swell; carbon steel blades will rust and stain; that is why I recommend a stainless-steel knife. Regardless of the handle, make sure to wash and dry your knife as soon as you are finished using it. Sometimes this is after we have finished eating our meal.
Also, be careful NOT to jostle knives, sitting in the sink; this could damage the blade.
I hand wash all my expensive cutlery. And I do not leave them sitting in the bottom of the sink to get damaged.
To check whether a knife is sharp, hold the edge towards the light against a dark surface. Any sparkles of reflected light upon it indicate blunted or burred areas.
Stainless steel blades are harder than carbon steel ones and keep their sharpness longer; but they also take more steeling to re-sharpen them once they lose their edge. Carbon steel blades are softer and blunt more quickly, but can be sharpened with a few strokes on a steel.
I only use my sharpening steel for the thinner blade knives, such as a boning knife. For my chef knives I use a hand-held double-slotted sharpener. The wedge-shaped file tends to keep the knife’s blade angle accurate.
AccuSharp 001C Knife Sharpener
About every 10-12 times I use the knife, I run it through this sharper, only four strokes, then wipe the blade with a dry cloth, which removes any metal shards. Then the knife is as sharp as brand new.
Chefs and manufactures argue on the proper way to store high-end cutlery. However, all agree, NEVER just throw your knives in a drawer. This will absolutely ruin the blades.
I use two different storage methods in my kitchen, both have been effective for over ten years.
I purchased this exact block. I did not want my steak knives in the same block and I like the flexibility of placing my most frequently used knives in this block – which sits right next to my prep area.
J.A Henckels International Hardwood Block
Buying Henckels knives is expensive. Having this block allows me to complete my custom set, gradually.
I also use a magnetic strip, which is attached to the wall for my less used knives, including a set of steak knives (which are not Henckels).
These strips are very inexpensive and can be easy hung up with just two screws. Mine has lasted over 10 years.
Regardless of which storage method you use, always dry your knives before putting them away.
Rotating Knife Block
A new option for storing your knives is this rotating, magnetic knife block.
Designed by Henry Leggett, an American custom cabinet builder, this 10-lb base block is made from marine grade plywood and will not tip over.
It can hold up to 20 knives, even those with a blade length of 20″!
Because it rotates, you have 360º access to all your cutlery.
And there are slots in the top for a set of steak knives and your honing rod.
Easy to clean – replenish with any butcher block oil.
Made to last a lifetime – this is the last knife block you will ever buy.
My knife of choice is Henckel Professional “S” Series Knives. They are not the highest-end knife sold by Henckel, but they are more than suitable for an avid home cook. My two chef knives, I’ve had for over 10 years.
I also purchased a Wolfgang Puck three-piece knife set, however, they have begun to tarnish and are not as durable as the Henckel. Although I love the 5-inch Santoku! Small and very lightweight, it makes chopping really small items easy – such as garlic cloves.
I’m thinking about buying an electric knife sharpener. Currently, I am doing research and will post about it in the future.
Furthermore, NEVER buy the knife block which contains flex rods. I purchased one of these and the rods broke. My knives would not stay in place and eventually, the rods fell out of the bottom. Total waste of money.
Making an investment in a good set of knives will make your life in the kitchen so much easier and will reduce risk of injury too.
Tell me what brand of knives you use in the kitchen and what is your “go-to” work horse?