So you got the latest sous vide, and the top icecream maker and the best standing mixier and…. Hold on just one second, show me your kitchen knives, please… Jep I know, I have been there! You got all the pro shit in your kitchen but, you forgot about the most basic and essential tools. Knives! We’ll read on, we got you covered! This is the post that will bring you back to basics!
How much are you willing to spend
Now we know that not everyone is created equal. And although we are kitchen nerds we still managed to live a long part of our lives with only the most basic knives in our kitchen drawer. That is why we decided to divide this post up into two. One recommendation for the ones not looking to spend so much and one for the more enthusiastic part of our audience.
Get the job done
Now many of you are quite satisfied with the knife you already have and are fine with those. The only advice we would like to give you is to invest in one of these. It is essential to keep your knives sharp. Try using this sharpener every once in a while, when you notice that your knives are getting dull. Just this small attention to sharpness will up your game and make the time you spend in the kitchen so, much more enjoyable! We have a bit more on sharpening down at line so feel free to have a look at that too if you need some inspiration.
A bit of a nerd
On the other hand, if you are ready to up your game and take your kitchen knives to the next level, then this section is for you. We tried to collect some information on the considerations that we think are important when you select a knife.
Types of knifes
Chef knife is the most used knives in the kitchen. If you are going to buy only one knife this is what we would recommend you to buy. The common kitchen knife (also known as a chefs knife) usually has about 20 cm blade length and is usually 4 cm wide. This can vary, and it is usually a matter of personal preference.
Paring knives are short knives mostly used for smaller jobs like cleaning mushrooms, peeling, etc. These knives usually have between 7 to 10 cm blade length and are 1,5 to 2 cm wide. If you are going to invest in more than one knife this is the second one we would recommend.
Vegetable knife is usually between 13-18 cm long and is often quite wide. This gives good support and more control when chopping is lightning fast!
Slicing knives are usually longer than the kitchen knife. The width of the blade is on the other hand more commonly less wide. The long blade ensures the chef a more even cutting surface. The long blade also gives the user more control in making straight cuts.
Now the list above is quite comprehensive and if you own all of these knives, then kudos to you! But there are even more knives out there that are specifically intended for more specific tasks in the kitchen. Now if a lot of your cooking focuses on one of these tasks, such an investment might be right for you.
Fish knives from japan are usually thick shorter knives with a rounded tip. these are usually quite strong and manage to cut through thick fishbone. on the other hand, fish knives from our Scandinavian part of the world are usually quite thin and look more like a normal filet knife. The blade is often flexible to allow the chef to slice of fish skin.
Boning knives are also like the Japanese fish knife quite thick bladed knife but often has a quite strong pointed tip to make finer cuts around bones and knuckles. the blade is often average long.
Sushi knives are specialty knives made for slicing thin small even slices of fish. The blades are often very long, like a small samurai sword. They usually become super sharp and are also commonly sharpened from only one side. Depending on if the user is left or right-handed. This is a super nerdy tool, and we want one!
A Cleaver the cleaver is a really cool knife that is actually more like an ax. It can look quite similar to the vegetable knife but is often heavier and has a thicker and more bunt edge that can handle bone better without getting too dull.
The steel used in kitchen knives is a science of its own. It is usually specifically chosen for the purpose the knife is intended to be used for. We will not go in dept of the different steel alloys in this post but, we would like to mention that there are 2 main categories out there. The ones who rust and the ones who don’t. The ones that are rust-free have a tendency to hold the edge for longer and are, as you might have guessed easier to maintain. These knives can, however, be harder to hone and sharpen.
The other type, the ones that do rust, are usually made of what we call carbon steel. These are harder to maintain and it is easier to get chipping and small dents in the edge of the blade. However, they are easier to hone and sharpen knives. We, (like many others) believe they have a tendency to get even sharper than the rust-free. It is also worth mentioning that many knives actually have different kinds of steel alloys in the edge and the rest of the blade. In some knives, this can even be seen as a visible line along the edge of the knives.
When it comes to the handle of the knife we believe that the most important is that it feels well in your hand. This often comes down to the balance of the blade and the knife together. The balance is also quite subjective, so it is important that you try to hold the knife in your hand before you purchase it. Another important part of a knife handle is the ability to prevent unwanted rotation. We tend to hold the knife close to the blade and lock it in with pointing finger and thumb. This usually gives a more controlled grip in terms of rotation and allows you to make more precise cuts. The handle should also be easy to clean and maintain.
As we see it there are basically two schools here. You can either go for a quick honing tool like the one we introduced you to at the beginning of the post. Or you can take up the skill of learning to sharpen your knife on a whetstone. We believe the later gives you more control and has become a kind of meditative process. Now it does require some amount of practice to get this right, but once you do you can enjoy an even sharper knife in your kitchen. If you are going to start using a wet stone we recommend that you start with two stones, one at 1000 grit and another. This is sufficient in most home uses and it doesn’t have to cost too much.
A big part of keeping your knives sharp is actually about cutting on a good surface. We prefer to use heavy-duty butcher block kinds with rubber feet. They tend to stay in place no matter what you are cutting, and the wood keeps the edge sharp for longer.
Storing your knives
By having a proper drawer for your knives you kan ensure that the edge keeps sharper longer. If you keep it stowed away with all other kinds of kitchen tools then the edge will get dull a lot faster. Now we know many of you like the magnetic type. Now while this is practical, make sure that you dry off any rusting knives well before hanging them back onto this, or they will rust!
Now there are instructional videos on this online that are great and we are not going to go into this into much detail. However, we usually start by soaking the stones for a good hour. Then we drag the knife backward over the stone equal amounts of time on both sides of the edge. Start with the coarse stone and move on over to the finer when you have a smooth edge going. You will know you have a smooth edge when you can lightly drag the blade across your nail without feeling any lagging.
Now we personally don’t own a honing rod. But if you do and you like it, good! we usually stick to the whetstone and give the knifes a few sweeps to bring the edge back up to speed.
Japanese knives are in our opinion better than the western. They are generally lighter and more neat to handle and have very specific usages. Of course, this is a subjective opinion, but we would definitely recommend these.
well if you don’t have a knife your satisfied with yet, then look at how many you need and what your budget is. We promise you that a good knife can last you a lifetime and will make the time you spend in the kitchen much more enjoyable! Happy chopping!