When we started our cooking journey, we were full of confusion and frustration as we began our search for the best cookware and essential kitchen tools for cooks (maybe still we are). When you start with no knowledge, the learning curve is immense. Smart and simple cooking requires the right tools for the job. Having the most essential cooking tools (especially knives) in your cupboard will make your life so much easier. Knives are one of the most important tools in a kitchen, arguably second only to the stove. Choosing the right type of knife (of the right weight, construction, materials) and the right brand for you is crucial. But which knives should you have in your set? What do they all do, and how do they differ from one another? Let’s check it out.
Types of Knives
Knives are the most important tool in a kitchen. But, there are different types of kitchen knives that are designed for various purposes and it can be difficult to know which knives are essential for your kitchen. How many of these knives are really necessary in a home kitchen? Maybe you’ve just purchased a knife set and realized you don’t actually know what each is meant for. Maybe you’ve had a knife set for a while and you’re starting to wonder how the ones you never use might make your life easier. In any case, understanding the different types of kitchen knives and how to use them can open up a whole new world. Preparing food is easier, faster, and safer when you have the right tools, but with so many different types of knives on the market, finding the one that suits your needs can be tricky. Without the right knowledge, it’s all too easy to buy a selection of specialist knives you hardly ever use. This guide will tell you everything you need to know. You’re becoming little chefs. Let’s get cutting Foodies!
Anatomy of a Kitchen Knife
Butt: The name given to the end of the handle, at the very bottom of the knife.
Tang: The tang is the unsharpened part of the blade which connects the blade edge to the handle. The tang is vital to the overall balance, weight, stability, and strength of the knife. The best knives are often considered to be those with a ‘full-tang’: one which runs from the end of the blade all the way to the butt. In some designs, the tang also functions as a handle.
Handle: Sometimes called ‘scales’, the handle is the part of the knife grasped by the chef during use. It can be made from a number of materials, and may be straight or designed with finger grooves and other ergonomic features that make it easier to hold.
Bolster: The bolster is the raised area between the blade and the handle. It puts a small space between the chef’s hand and the blade, to stop the fingers from slipping down onto the blade during cutting work. It also provides additional weight to help balance the knife.
Heel: The heel is the lower edge of the blade, furthest from the tip, next to the bolster. It’s often the widest part of the blade. This part of the edge is most commonly used when the chef needs more strength or pressure to cut through thicker or tougher foods.
Blade: The blade is the name given to the part of the knife which is used for cutting. It’s usually crafted from steel, although it may also be ceramic, titanium or even plastic.
Spine: The spine is the blunt upper side of the blade, opposite to the cutting edge. The thickness of the spine gives strength to blade: as a rule, the thicker the spine, the stronger the blade. It’s also important for providing balance to the overall knife.
Edge: This refers to the sharpened part of the blade, which is used for the majority of cutting work. The sharpness of the knife is dictated by how finely the edge is ground, and this will depend on both the quality of the knife and how often you sharpen it. It may be serrated (as with bread knives) or it may be straight.
Tip: The front part of the knife’s edge, just beneath the point, is called the tip. It’s the part of the blade which is normally used for delicate chopping and cutting work.
Point: The very end of the blade. This is usually sharpened to a fine point, and can be used to pierce or score the surface of food.
A chef knife, sometimes called a chef’s or cook’s knife. It is one of the most versatile tools. Any professional chef will tell you this is a must-have. It should feel like an extension of your arm. It’s a go-to for chopping and dicing vegetables, fruit, and herbs. As well as cutting a variety of other ingredients like meat, poultry, and fish.
A utility knife is a similar shape to a chef knife, but smaller and slimmer. Some utility knives also have a sharp tip which tapers up towards the spine, to allow for more intricate work. It is good for chopping smaller foods and vegetables, like shallots. It shares many of the qualities of a chef knife, but it can be a useful tool when working with smaller food items, as the utility knife allows for more precise cutting work.
A paring knife has a short, slim, evenly sized blade with a pointed tip. It tends to be light, to allow for easy handling during delicate work. The small but mighty paring knife is used to cut, chop and slice fruits and vegetables, but they can also be used for a multitude of other kitchen tasks. Despite their small size, paring knives will make light work of harder foods, like potatoes.
A bread knife has a long, evenly sized blade, with a sharp serrated edge like a saw. This sort of knife is designed for use on softer items. It is the perfect tool for sawing through all sorts of different breads, including crusty bread, baguettes, bagels and bread rolls.
A carving knife is a long, slim knife, tapering to a sharp point. Sometimes called a slicing knife, a carving knife is one of the longest kitchen knives in the kitchen. Its narrow width means that it produces less drag as it cuts through food, allowing it to create cleaner, more uniform slices. When it comes to serving meats like poultry, pork, lamb or beef, a carving knife is the best tool for the job, as it will produce thin, neat, evenly sized slices. It can also be used to tackle larger fruits and vegetables, such as melons or courgettes, which can be tough to slice through using smaller or broader knives.
Cleaver or Butcher Knife
They have a flat, rectangular-shaped blade. They come in a variety of sizes, depending on their intended use. They’re one of the broadest, heaviest knives, and sometimes feature a hole near the spine of the blade so they can be hung up when not in use. A cleaver is used to chop up raw meat, either as part of the butchery process or to divide it into smaller portions before cooking. The large, heavy design means that it can even cut through bone, making it one of the best knives for raw meat prep.
A boning knife is a slim blade with a very sharp edge, usually tapering upwards to a fine pointed tip. It’s fairly short and is usually rigidly constructed, although more flexible blades are available for delicate meat. It is the best knife for cutting meat bones and trimming cartilage to create the perfect joint or cut before cooking. The pointed tip and slim blade make it a great choice for cutting around the bone without ruining the surrounding flesh.
A filleting knife is a long, slim knife with a flexible blade. It has a very sharp edge and a finely pointed tip for piercing through skin, and to allow for intricate bone-removal work. It has a similar appearance to a boning knife, but the blade is thinner and more flexible. It is perfect for removing bones without damaging the delicate flesh of the fish. They differ from other knives in that they’re often used to cut through food horizontally, rather than vertically and this allows chefs to cut around the backbone of whole fish to create perfect fillets.
Santoku knives, meaning ‘three uses’ are great for precise cutting, dicing and mincing. One of the most popular types of kitchen knives in their native Japan, santoku knives have long, slightly tapered blades with a drop point to allow for more precise, intricate cutting work. They usually have dimpling along the blade to prevent food from sticking to the metal. They’re particularly useful when preparing sushi or other raw fish, as the dimpling on the flat side of the blade helps to stop delicate items from sticking to the metal. The large, broad blade can also be used to scoop up and transport chopped food after cutting.
They’re designed to be lightweight and easy to handle. Tomato knives have a rounded blade with a sharp, serrated edge. Tomato knives are designed for cutting and slicing tomatoes, which require a specialised cutting tool owing to their delicate skin and soft, fleshy centres. The serrated edge of the knife cuts cleanly through the skin without crushing the soft interior, allowing the chef to create neat, even slices or segments.
A peeling knife has a short, rigid, and slightly curved blade. It will usually have a straight, extremely sharp edge. It is primarily used to peel vegetables, potatoes and fruit, and it’s also sharp enough to easily slice through tough skins.
More like scissors than knives, kitchen shears are used to cut herbs off their vines, chop salad greens, and open up the packing on processed foods. You can also use shears to cut pieces of meat into bite-size chunks.
Featuring long, straight blades, slicing knives are designed for slicing cooked meats like smoked hams, roasted turkeys, or sirloin steaks. These knives typically have a long blade with a rounded tip.
Cheese knives are specially designed to cut through dense, sticky, and hard cheeses, and they’re the perfect tool for restaurants that offer charcuterie boards. Cheese knives come in a variety of designs that match with specific types of cheeses.
Featuring a dull and rounded edge, buttr knives are typically served with breads in order to spread butter, jelly, or other toppings.
Resembling a dinner knife, albeit smaller, dessert knives are served with dessert as a fresh alternative to dinnerware that has been dirtied while eating an entree. They are used for cutting through soft items like cakes and cheesecakes.
Dinner knives are versatile knives that are served with entrees. They are typically used for cutting soft foods such as fish and cooked vegetables, or for moving food.
With a typically serrated edge, steak knives are served with steak and other pieces of meat that are too thick to cut with a dinner knife.
Now you’re more conscious Foodies. Can we say welcome to your new skill? I trust you, I’m pretty sure, I do. Day by day we’re getting more well-informed. I always say ‘All for one and one for all!’. I’m here for you. Don’t forget it and keep following. See you next week guys.
Love you more ❤.