Knowing Your Knife and How to Use It

When cooking, it is important to surround yourself with the right equipment. Most people know this, and yet many kitchens are filled with sub-standard pans, utensils or kitchen knives. If you want a good knife set, you have to pay a little more and some people aren’t willing to do so. However, as kitchen knives are one of the most vital tools you can have in your kitchen, advertising kitchen knives to consumers needs to emphasize how important they are.

There is a difference between cheap knives and chef knives, and it’s not just the price! If consumers spend as little as possible on knives, the chances are that they will break, go blunt easily or slip whilst in use. Often, consumers will often find that cheap knives will also come separately, however, more expensive and better quality kitchen knives (commonly used by chefs) will come in sets according to usage. These will usually include a bread knife, chef’s knife, carving knife, paring knife, and peeling knife.

Buying good quality kitchen knives can make the difference between chopping meat and vegetables correctly and with ease or not. Blunt knives can not only be difficult to cut with, but they can also increase the risk of knife related kitchen accidents. Good quality kitchen knives offer great balance, better materials, higher quality cutting precision, elegance, solidity and sustained sharpness.

Knife Blade

The best chef’s knives are made of high-carbon stainless steel, which is a very hard metal that keeps its edge for a long time and won’t discolor or rust like ordinary carbon steel.

To be sure, knives made from ordinary carbon steel aren’t necessarily inferior. Some chefs love them, because the relatively softer metal makes them easier to sharpen. Of course, they go dull more easily, too.

Chef’s knives are measured in inches, with lengths of 8″ to 12″ being the most common. A longer blade lets you make longer single-stroke cuts when slicing. The so-called “German” style of chef’s knife tends to have a more curved section at the front of the blade, which is good for chopping in an up-and-down “rocking” motion.

The “French” style is straighter, with a more triangular blade, which is good for a “slicing” type of motion where the knife is drawn straight back toward you.

Knife Handle

Unless you’re very unlucky, the part of a chef’s knife you’ll have the most contact with is the handle, so you’ll want to make sure it’s comfortable and fits your hand. It shouldn’t feel slippery or cause you to have to grip excessively hard.

Chef’s knife handles have traditionally been made of wood, but wooden handles present certain problems. For one, because wood is porous, knife handles made of wood can harbor bacteria that cause food-related illness.

Bacteria can also grow in the tiny cracks where the wood joins the steel or around the rivets. Wooden handles don’t fare well in the dishwasher either, though to be fair, you shouldn’t be running your knife through the dishwasher in the first place. Still, even soaking a knife can cause its wooden handle to warp or crack.

For these reasons, knives with plastic or rubber handles are increasingly popular. Additionally, some handles are made from a composite material consisting of wood that has been treated with plastic resin. That gives them the traditional appearance of wood, which many people find appealing.

Knife Heel

The heel is the widest part of the knife, located at the rear of the blade where it meets the handle. This section of the cutting edge is used for chopping hard items like carrots, nuts or even chicken bones.

Knives with longer blades produce greater leverage, thus generating greater cutting force at the heel of the blade. A heavier knife also increases cutting force, but it’s more tiring to use, too.

Knife Tang

As mentioned earlier, the best knives are forged from a single piece of steel that runs the entire length of the knife. That means the steel extends all the way into the handle. The section of steel inside the handle is called the tang, and if it goes all the way to the end of the handle, it’s called a “full tang.”

In addition to providing strength, full-tang construction offers better balance, making a knife easier to use.

Knife Bolster

The bolster is the thick shoulder of heavy steel located at the front of the handle where it meets the spine, or the top (non-cutting) edge of the blade. In addition to balancing the knife, the bolster also helps keeps your fingers from slipping while you work, thus preventing hand fatigue and blisters.

Not every chef’s knife will have a bolster. A bolster indicates that a knife has been forged from a single chunk of steel, as opposed to being stamped out of a roll of sheet metal. These stamped knives are generally inferior to forged knives. The thickness of a bolster shows how thick the original chunk of steel was and the thicker the better.

The two main types of chef’s knife blade are; stamped and forged. Furthermore, the prices of a chef knife also coincide with the amount of work and effort put in place to produce the blade and its material value. Chef knives are critical and invaluable utensils in a professional kitchen. While purchasing chef knives for your kitchen, it is important to consider them to be a practical and worthwhile investment. A chef’s knife average length is between 8 to 10 inches and they come in a variety of shapes and styles that are suitable for a variety of kitchen chores. Unlike any other set of knives, chef knives are extremely versatile and their individual components can be put to a variety of different uses.  You can find one at


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