How to Find the Best Kitchen Knives
How to Find the Best Kitchen Knives
Not every kitchen knife is identical. Many times popular brands might sell knives of lower quality but keep steep price tag. However, it is as often that the complete opposite can occur - less popular brands selling higher quality products.
Taking into consideration that kitchen knives are not a thing you buy often, and yet you use it on a daily basis, it is imperative that you make the right choice. You would ideally want a product that handles well, is durable, strong and long lasting. Here are a few pieces of advice about what to consider when buying kitchen knives.
1. Ahead of buying them, identify what sort of knives you require.
Knives come in a large array of shapes and sizes which can satisfy a large array of needs. Therefore it’s important to know what type of knives you require to suit your culinary flair and habit.
A well suited essential kit for an ordinary family kitchen will contain:
- An all-around utility knife (5 inches ~ 13 centimeters) – utilized for a variety of meals; generally used as a first choice knife as it is very versatile in the things it can do.
- A chef’s knife (7.8 – 9 inches / 20 – 23 centimeters) mainly utilized to cut, dice, mince and chop all sorts of foods.
- A knife for salads and vegetables (3 inches / 8 centimeters) utilized to trim, peel and cut small-scale pieces of food which can be held in the hand (used to trim apples for instance).
- A serrated bread knife – obviously used to cut bread, but also other types of food such as vegetables, fruits or desserts.
- A cleaver – utilized for cutting large chunks of meat, or maybe to chop foods like lettuce etc.
- A fillet knife – is a must if you hope to prepare fish the right way – that is, if you don’t make a run to the supermarket and do it the easy way.
- A carving blade – utilized to cut slim pieces of meat, fine steak chunks etc.
- A sharpening tool – you have got to keep them sharp of course.
- More often than not you can get a complete set of knives which contains all of the above mentioned blades. Most of the time complete sets will be more economical rather than buying them one by one. Nonetheless, whether you decide to buy them one by one or an entire set, the same mentioned guidelines apply. Note that when buying an entire set, be it cheap or not, there is the possibility that you may not like how the handle of the blade feels in your hand and then you end up with a bunch of knives you don’t like. So, it’s better to buy one at a time, and if you decide you like it, buy more from the same brand.
2. While you are browsing at the store, feel every knife by holding it.
You want the knife you will be using regularly to have a solid grip and a good feel in your palms. Don’t simply take other people’s word for it – not everyone has the same affinities towards knives. Make an assessment on your own.
3. Check the amount of steel the knife contains and where it is placed too.
Check for joints and fuses, especially around the handle. If there are signs of that you should avoid that product since it resembles a weak spot and knives like that are more prone to bending and breaking. A fine knife will be made entirely from steel with no joining points, hand crafted. On the other hand, a low-quality knife will be topped with a large amount of plastic, have several joining points and are very slim. Note that the former kind can get very expensive.
4. Check how much it weighs
Slender blades are perfect for finishing the job fast and precise, while more massive knives is completely the opposite. Nevertheless, heavier knives can be very useful when dealing with nuts or any other tougher pieces of food.
5. Make sure the knife is perfectly balanced
If the blade is of a high quality it will be nicely balanced, equally weighed on both blade and the handle. As you have probably already seen it, the most common way to check the balance of the knife is to place your finger at the point where the handle ends and the blade starts and see if it stays there in a horizontal position. If it does not fall off your finger the balance is spot on. Be very careful when doing this, as it no secret that only top quality brands pay that much attention to a perfectly balanced knife. It is very likely that a cheap brand knife will fall off your finger almost instantly which may lead to an unwanted injury.
The balance is so important simply because it makes any operation simpler and almost effortless. It has to be exactly on the sweet spot. If that is the case any operation with the knife will feel easier and if will not tire your hand and arm muscles.
6. Check the hilt of the product
A quality knife will have a sturdy hilt, easily cleaned and nicely merged with the blade. It is also a very important piece of the knife where, essentially, the entire weight of the applied force will travel when used. In case it’s not sturdy enough (as in plastic), or there are clear signs of welding joints, it is a clear sign that the product is not good enough. Especially if there are evident gaps you can be certain that the knife is of really low quality, and furthermore those gaps can be the perfect place for bacteria to develop.
7. Check the material of the handle
In most cases the handle is plastic, wood, strengthened resins or other solid materials. A conventional bone handled knife is not recommended as bone gets more fragile after continuous usage. As a result, it can lead breaking the knife while still using it which may cause grave injuries. You should also avoid knives with small density or weak woods and any other similar delicate materials.
8. Examine the material of the blade.
Without a doubt the finest blades are ceramic. Ceramic blades allow for perfect sharpening, don’t lose their sharpness fast, and, most importantly, rust is not a threat to them. The only disadvantage these knives have is that they are terribly delicate and frail which means they can easily break. They are also extremely expensive. Buying a cheap ceramic knife is not advisable.
- Quality knives are manufactured from non stainless steel, that provides a nice edge quite swiftly, however, one should be careful not to let them rust.
- Most of the modern day knives are manufactured from stainless steel. These products have the tendency to become dull in a short time and it take quite a while to get them sharp. Knives made of high carbon stainless steel are a slightly better choice. While they do need to be sharpened, they are rust free. They also last a lot longer.
- Not everyone can afford top quality at any given time, so if you’re on a tight budget it’s a good idea to purchase a cheap stainless steel knife. At least until you’re able to afford a better high carbon one.
- If you have to choose between forged and stamped blades, you should go with the forged ones, since they are superior because their metal is tougher as a result of the forging process.
- There are knives that are claimed to have no need for sharpening. These should be avoided at all costs because not only they can’t be sharpened, they are not even sharp from the start. Additionally, they wear off much faster.
9. Check the diameter of the cutting edge
Also be vigilant of the density level and how smooth the blade is. Quality knives need no polishing to look like they have been polished with no traces of damage to the metal. Furthermore, the cutting edge will stretch through the entire piece.
Avoid using serrated chef’s knives on a daily basis for activities like chopping meat or cutting vegetables because they can be very dangerous and it’s easier for people to drop them which can in turn lead to an unwanted injury. It’s impossible to sharpen them and lest you know how to handle them properly they are more like saws than regular chopping knives. And that makes them really dangerous.
These knives sound good on commercials since they are proclaimed to be an all-around knives that can complete many tasks successfully. However the truth is entirely different and it is not wise to buy them. That’s precisely the reason why quality companies never include such a knife in their sets. The only purpose of a serrated knife should be to slice bread or similar baked foods.
10. Preserve the blade in superb form
f you do acquire a nice quality collection you should also make sure to get a sharpening tool. This is important in order to keep the product sharp and prevent it from going dull and lose its edge.
- It may cost extra, however, a diamond steel is going to provide more slender edge. If the blade is not maintained and carefully sharpened it may become crooked and lose its cutting edge faster. It should also be noted that you need not rush the sharpening process. Do not spend more time sharpening the center of the blade. Taking it slow guarantees an evenly sharpened blade which will be more durable and last quite longer.
- Also, be wary of the surface you use when cutting. Ceramic, steel or glass boards may as well corrupt the quality of the blade. There is also a higher possibility to injure yourself. Instead of such surfaces, use boards made of wood for best cutting results. Whatever surface you decide to use must be kept clean and be maintained properly. Washing it with a water and bleach mixture (10:1 ratio) weekly will preserve the quality of the surface board.
- Most injuries while preparing food are due to insufficiently sharpened knives, simply because a blunt knife requires much more force and effort to complete the job as opposed to a fine sharp blade.
11. Always go for quality instead of popularity and fame
Everyone looks for a good deal, meaning you try to get higher quality product at the lowest possible price. As mentioned before, not always a good brand means a quality product. Regardless of the price, it’s the customer that pays the bill.
Just like many other personal belongings, knives should not be used by several people. Using a knife you aren’t familiar with is a recipe for unwanted injuries.
12. Keep your set in a good place
Get a sturdy knife box or a rolling pouch made of strong material. Certain sets come with a dedicated keeping place, however, professional chefs prefer to keep them in a way that the blades do not come in contact with each other using old aprons. Whatever method of keeping you choose to make sure the knives are secure and there is no chance of them falling out of their place. In a setting with no kids, where there is no possibility of falling, magnetic boards may be used, although they are not recommended.
Keeping your knife set in a conventional toolbox or a cabinet drawers is not a good idea.
13. Make the right choice by checking more stores
Be it a normal or an internet store make sure you have weighed your buying options. Like everything else, the internet can be a great place to locate the ideal product. There is a downside to it, however, since you can’t feel the knife in your hand before making a purchase. You can cope with that by ensuring that the online store has favorable return policy in case you don’t like the product. Knives are bought to last, meaning it is a long term purchase. A good set of blades should last two, three decades or longer. That is why it is of the utmost importance that you make the right choice.
Knives are not something you buy every day, and yet they are used daily. Therefore, take as much time as you need to review all the possibilities on the market and make a sound decision. If possible, do not try to save money by getting the cheapest possible knives. It may only result in money being wasted, since you might need to buy a new set shortly after. And if you do choose to spend a little more, make sure you take regular care of the knives. Clean them, sharpen them regularly and store them properly.