Do you need to spend a lot of money on a set of knives?

Well, if you are in the profession, it would be highly recommended that you invest in some tools that will with stand the constant abuse and use for 8-10 hours a day.  Like a car mechanic, they also invest in tools that withstand such daily hardships.

For the average foodie or home cook that will use their knives an hour per day tops, you don’t have to invest a lot of money. Now if you ask a knife salesperson, they will absolutely tell that your knives have to be forged steel, full tang, bla bla bla. False!

Let me ask you a question. Does a $200 hockey stick make you a better hockey player? Score more goals…make your shot more accurate? 

Do a $150 pair of basketball shoes make you jump higher…run faster…give you a more accurate jump shot? No…I didn’t think so, although we all seem to get sucked into thinking somehow it does.

Same for knives in a manner of speaking. Now do I think a chef’s (French) knife should be able to bend like a Kuradori? No…It is meant to be stiff and rigid for a reason. You do get what you pay, so I’m not suggesting you go to the dollar store and purchase knives, however the $200 knife will not cut any better than the $30-$50 knife.

What you should have in your knife set at home?

1. Paring knife. Blade is 3-5 inches in length. Not flexible. Used for peeling, small cuts and decorative work

2. Boning knife. Blade is 6-9 inches in length and should be somewhat flexible. Used for trimming of meats, boning of fish and chicken.

3. Chef or French knife. Blade is 10-12 inches in length. Should be stiff. Used for cutting of vegetables and general kitchen use.

4. Serrated knife. Blade is 10-12 inches in length and maybe flexible but does not have to be. Used for cutting breads.

5. Carving knife. Blade is 12-16 inches in length, slender and very flexible. Used only for carving of meats.

 A few knife terms

* TIP. The end of the blade where the point is.

*BUTT. The backend of the knife handle

*TANG. The length of steel that continues back from the blade into the handle. Full tang knife is made from tip to butt. Some less expensive knives save on steel and only give you 1/2 a tang, covering the rest of the handle with plastic. 

*CHOILE. Underneath the handle just before the start of the blade. It would almost appear to look like a safety guard of sorts.

Things you need to know.

There are a few things about knives that won’t change no matter a $200 or a $30 knife.

1) Make sure the knife you purchase feels comfortable in your hand. Don’t over compensate for something by buying the “biggest, baddest” knife on the shelf. It won’t help you. Make sure it “fits” your hand well and the weight is comfortable. I always have a tough time purchasing a French knife because I have large hands. When I “rocker” the knife, my fingers hit the cutting board and I don’t get a clean cut. If this a problem for you, ask for a knife with a large choile.

2) Keep all your knives sharp and well maintained. This will not only ensure accurate knife cuts but less opportunity to slip and cut yourself. I use a “steel’ to buff off the burrs on my knives several times throughout the day. Once they are sharpened professionally, there should be no need to have them done again if you maintain them well. 

3) Most importantly, keep them sanitized at all times. Make sure there is no risk of cross contamination. Always keep your knives cleaned and sanitized before, between and after each use. I personally do not put them through a dishwasher because it increases the chance of cracking the handle cover. I always have a small bucket with sanitizer (changed regularly throughout the day) and constantly wash my knives. The beginning and the end of the day, I wash with warm soap water and then sanitizer to thoroughly clean. 

Happy cutting and remember to keep those fingers out of the way.

Chef Paul 

Fresco Cafe and Catering

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