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KITCHEN KNIVES  Some Tips About Quality

How to Choose
Quality Kitchen Knives

(and what the heck all those 
different styles mean to me!)

[ Buying a Set of Knives ] [ Choosing the Right Knife ]
 [
The Chef Knife ][ The Paring Knife ]
 [
The Serrated Knife ] [ Other Knife Types ]

What's in a knife?
Quite a lot, actually. A knife is the most important and most often used utensil in the kitchen. The first question in choosing a quality knife is  "Which knife should I buy?" The second question, usually is  "Which knife should I use?" We'll try to help you answer each question.
For more information email us here

BUYING A SET OF KNIVES

Buying knives is not a small decision because the knives you choose should last a lifetime. Once you own a quality set of  knives, the only time you will have to buy another set of knives is to give them as a gift. Speaking of which, knives are among the most popular wedding gifts.

When you are ready to buy a set of knives, a good rule of thumb is to buy the best quality knives you can afford, because they can easily
last you a lifetime. 

Open Stock or a Set?

Knives are usually much more affordable if purchased as a set. Buying a set will provide you with the general tools to start your knife collection and, often, contains a storage system in which you can keep them safe. Additional, more specific knives can be purchased at a later time.

Most major cutlery manufacturers,  also sell knives in "open stock," which means you can buy one knife at a time. Buying knives in "open stock" usually makes sense if:

  1. You want to add a knife to your collection. Two people may frequently prepare meals together and find it easier to have two paring, utility or chef's knives. ( In our home, we have duplicates
    of several knife patterns)
  2. You may need to replace a lost or stolen knife.
  3. You want a particular knife. For example, a person with small hands may prefer a smaller chef knife than the one provided in
    the set. Or, your cooking style may frequently call for a specialty knife, such as a cleaver.
  4. You want to buy top quality knives but can't afford the full set
    in a single purchase.

Otherwise, a set of knives probably makes more sense. You can
always add more knives to your set later.

Fine Edge or "Never Needs Sharpening"

Most cutlery fall into one of these two categories.

Fine edge knives are the classics of cutlery. They are the choice of chefs and accomplished cooks because they usually have a good weight and feel. The blade is also much sharper which allows for finer more precise cuts. However, fine edge knives do require some maintenance, such as steeling. This is a very minimal task that when performed regularly and properly, will keep your knifes healthy.

"Never Needs Sharpening" knives  are a misnomer (means: not true) but......may be a good choice for some people who cook for themselves and their families everyday. The blades are not able to make as precise of a cut as fine edge knives as they tend to tear the food more than cut
smoothly through it, but they will (more or less) hold their edge through ordinary daily use.
These knives are often an ok choice for the value-conscious consumer.

Keep in mind......THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A KNIFE THAT
                                 NEVER NEEDS SHARPENING

SHARPKNIVES.COM
We are a professional knife maker shop with over twenty years of experience. We recommend Messermeister's two forged series of knives; San Moritz Elite and Meridian Elite.
SHOP FOR THEM HERE

Marks of a Quality Knife

Steel Blades -
      The type of steel used in the blade is one of the most important considerations in buying a knife. Most of our kitchen knives are manufactured from a special blend of high carbon stainless steel that resists rust, stains and corrosion. A multitude of operations and techniques are used to shape blades and create a sharp edge.

A Full Tang
     The tang is the portion of the metal that continues through the
handle and to which the handle is attached. Best quality knives will
have a full tang, which means that the portion of the blade that extends into the handle is visible on all sides of the handle.

A Tapered Edge
    Knife blades are usually ground in one of two shapes: flat & hollow ground. Many knives use a tapered edge so they are easy to hone to
a fine edge. Tapered edge knives are also the easiest to sharpen.

Balance
    Top quality knives feel good in the cook's hand. The appeal is somewhat subjective so it is important to handle the knives you are thinking of buying. The knife should feel solid and easy to handle. Chef knives should have enough clearance to allow a full rocking, chopping motion on a cutting surface without smashing your fingers between the knife handle and board. You may also look for a cambered edge to facilitate the rocking motion. Balance does not mean the blade and the handle weigh the same. It means your knife feels so comfortable it will become an extension of your hand.

Stamped or Forged
    Forging is the process of heating a single piece of metal and then hammering and grinding it into the shape of a blade. This usually involves high heat and tons of pressure. Stamped blades, on the other hand, are pressed out of  solid sheet of metal. Forged knives are typically heavier when compared to stamped knives. The forging
also creates a superior knife in the end.

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CHOOSING THE RIGHT KNIFE

Now that you have purchased your knives, placed them in your kitchen, and are ready to start cooking, which knife do you reach for?

The answer depends on what job you are going to do. Knives are made differently for different functions. You could slice a roast with a paring knife, but it will be much easier and you'll do a better job if you use the right knife. With three multi-purpose knives, you can perform almost every cutting job; while other types have more specialized uses.

THE CHEF KNIFE

The chef knife will have a triangular blade from 6 to 10 inches long
(with the most popular being 8"), usually at least 1 1/2" tall  which
gently tapers to the point. French chef knives will have thinner, longer blades to better slice thick items, while German-style chef's knives
will be wider across the blade and shorter in length for better chopping. The chef knife often seems too large to novices, but with some practice it becomes the knife of choice because it is efficient for large or
multiple jobs.
Use this knife to chop, slice and mince; the side of the blade can be used for crushing garlic and some spices. The chef knife is best used in a rocking motion for chopping. Santoku knives have been very popular
over the past few years. You will see many TV chefs using them. They

are basically, an Asian version of our chef's knife and can be used
interchangeably.

     Another knife to consider in this genre is the Chinese
knife
. While they may look like a cleaver, the Chinese knife is thin,
well balanced and made for chopping and mincing vegetables.
They are often called "the Chinese Chef's knife" and are never used
to chop through bone.
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THE PARING KNIFE

The paring knife has a blade of about 2 1/2" to 4 inches that is only about 3/4" wide at its widest point. It can be used to peel vegetables and fruit, trim meats, and cut pastry dough - any job that requires some delicate cutting work.                         

THE SERRATED KNIFE                      

The long serrated knife is often called a bread knife because it is particularly good for slicing breads that require a back and forth sawing motion.
     Beyond breads, the serrated knife can be good for tomatoes
 and peaches and other fruits that have a skin that can bruise easily. The serrated knife must be sharpened professionally,
and should not be used on a sharpening steel. However, the properly cared for serrated knife should not become dull quickly because it is rarely drawn across a cutting board or other surfaces.

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OTHER KNIFE TYPES

Beyond the three most popular knives, 
you may have a need for one of these:

Utility
These are smaller than a chef knife and larger than a paring knife, usually with about a 6 inch blade.
Utility knives, as the name implies, are used for many jobs and often serve as an extra knife for a kitchen helper to use. Sometimes it is called a sandwich knife, although now, most makers have an offset knife pattern that is more suitable as a sandwich knife.

Boning
The boning knife is used to cut meat off of bones, hence the name. The blades may be 5" or longer and are usually quite narrow. They are available in
straight, curved, stiff or flexible.

Slicing
This is a long, thin knife, up to 8 to 10 inches, that is used for slicing roasts, hams, and turkeys. These are
commonly available in either straight or serrated
edge.

Butcher
This knife is similar to a chef's knife with a blade of up to 8 inches but is usually a bit heavier.

Cleaver
These are used to do heavy chopping and cutting of meats and for cutting through bone. They will either have a straight or slightly curved edge. A Chinese Chef's knife will look like a cleaver in profile but will be lighter because it is used for chopping vegetables rather than meats.

Steak
The steak knife is a dining knife used at a table setting when meats are served. However, it can function in the kitchen as a paring or utility knife.

 

 
Choosing a quality kitchen knife
 
We are a professional knife maker shop with over twenty years of experience. We recommend Messermeister's two forged series of knives; San Moritz Elite and Meridian Elite. SHOP FOR THEM HERE


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