Posted by Abby on 4/10/2013
A good set of knives for an average kitchen should include:
- An all-purpose utility knife (5"-7"), which can be used for a variety of foods.
- A chef's knife (8"-10"), used for chopping, dicing, and cutting.
- A vegetable or paring knife (4"), for peeling, cutting, and trimming small items of food.
- A bread knife (serrated), used for bread, fruit, tomatoes.
- A cleaver, used for meat. Only buy one of these if you need to chop serious pieces of meat, otherwise it will probably just be taking up space.
- A fillet knife, used mainly for fish. Only buy if you plan on filleting fish.
- A carving knife, used for getting thin and even slices of meat.
- Sharpening steel, knife-honing stone, or electric honer.
When buying knives, hold each knife in your hand. You want to be sure if feels comfortable in your hand, just like if you were to buy and car, you would want to take a test drive!
Look at how much steel is in the knife and where it is located. Look for signs of welding, mainly in the hilt of the knife (the handle). This is a weak point in the knife and should be avoided so they don't bend or break. The best knives are made from a single piece of steel, hand-forged. Forged knives are more expensive, but worth the buy.
Feel the weight of the knife. A lightweight knife is good for speed and accuracy, while a heavy knife requires more work for chopping light ingredients. The opposite applies for solid, hard foods, a heavy knife would be ideal.
Quality knives tend to have good balance, not too much weight on the blade or the handle.
The handle should be solid and well joined. is not evident (such as covered in plastic), or there is evidence of a weld or join, then it is not a good sign. If there are any gaps it will increase the weakness of the knife, and can also trap small portions of food and build bacteria.
Good knives are often made of non-stainless steel (carbon steel), which gives a good edge, but should be taken care of to avoid rust. Stainless steel is what many cheap modern knife blades are made of, but then tend to become dull fast and take a long time to sharpen again. Forged blades are betting than stamped blades because the forging makes the knife stronger.
The last tip is once you purchase your knives, be sure to store them carefully. A block, roll (cloth pouch), or a storage box are ideal. Magnetic strips are fine for a place where there is no children and installed where the knives cannot easily be knocked off the wall. Storing them loose in a drawer or tool box is not recommended.