A set of kitchen knives makes the basic kit list in any kitchen. While you can invest a substantial amount buying a smart kitchen knife set, it’s worth doing a bit of research into what you really need, considering your cooking habits in addition to your budget. Many people find building up an individual collection of knives to suit their own specific needs is more useful to them than a kitchen knife set – although these are useful if you’re starting from scratch.
What to look for in kitchen knives
There are a number of features to consider when buying your kitchen knives. Most important of all is material. Blades are created from a number of materials, each with different properties. Stainless steel is easily the most popular. It’s affordable and simple to sharpen at home. Carbon steel is a lower maintenance alternative – it needs less sharpening but is more expensive. Ceramic is prized by professional chefs for its light weight but exceptionally durable finish. Titanium is similarly desirable for the same reason and even more costly!
The sharp end
You’ll also need a range of different cutting blades. Scalloped and serrated edge blades are used for bread knives, thanks to their ability to cut the crust and bread inside cleanly. Straight edged blades are the all rounders of the kitchen knife set and should be sharpened regularly to maintain keenness. A useful alternative is a straight edged blade with fluted indentations along the side. These form tiny air pockets as you cut that stop food clinging to the blade, ideal for cheese and for very delicate slicing.
Most kitchen knife sets come with a range of good all rounders, knives that cope with everyday kitchen tasks, to which you can add specialist kitchen knives depending upon your cooking habits. Among them you will usually find a small paring knife for fruits and vegetables, a serrated edge utility knife, a large bread knife, a flexible bladed carving knife and a cook’s knife for larger chopping jobs.
Specialist kitchen knives
Task knives are those specifically designed for certain jobs, such as meat cleavers, filleting or boning knives. If you prepare or eat a particular ingredient regularly, it’s worth investing in a knife designed to make that job easier – meat lovers should consider a good set of steak knives, healthy types a grapefruit knife and those who entertain would surely find a cheese knife handy. In the same way, oyster knives and pizza slices are more than decorative. Their design means they make their particular job easier to accomplish.