When it comes to enjoying your experience in the kitchen, the correct knife can make all the difference. The knowledge you possess when making this important decision can make the difference between enjoyment or regret.
Kitchen knives come in all sizes and shapes. Each small copper knife variation results in a different use. There are long ones, short ones, wide ones, narrow ones, curved ones, angled ones and the list goes on and on. They are made from carbon steel, stainless steel, stamped steel, ceramic or even plastic. The better knives are balanced so as they are being used they do not feel awkward. By awkward I mean they feel heavy or light at the pointed end. Proper balance eases the strain on the user. Grips or handles have made great advances further easing the strain on the user. Sharpness is also a key factor in easing the strain on the user. The type of edge used for a particular cutting or slicing project is very important.
The size and shape of the knife determines its primary use. The cook’s or chef’s knife is used for the heavy duty cutting needed in the kitchen. It is normally a longer, heavy constructed knife that will handle the abuse of the overzealous cook. Slicing, dicing, and chopping are some of the primary uses of the cook’s knife. The slicing knife is for use in slicing food such as ham or large cuts of meat. The Bread knife normally has a thin serrated blade. The serrated blade allows it to easily slice through a loaf of bread or a tomato without crushing or tearing. The steak knife is normally a smaller version of the slicing knife, designed for individual use. The knife used most often by any cook is the paring knife. It is a small knife that is easy to handle and can be used for cutting, peeling and dicing fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, etc.
The way knives are constructed determines several things. There are several types of material used in the manufacturing of the blade material.
Carbon Steel blades are made from iron with about 2% carbon. This blade is easily sharpened and holds its edge well. The down side of this is they tend rust if they are not dried immediately after washing. Over time they obtain a dark color considered to be the sign of a quality knife. The higher the percentage of carbon to iron, the better the blade.
Stainless Steel blades are made from an alloy of iron with 10-15 % chromium, maybe some nickel and molybdenum with only a very small amount of carbon. This type of material cannot be sharpened as sharp as the carbon steel blade, but it is very resistant to staining and discoloration. Some people think the discoloration imparts a flavor into the food.
High Carbon Stainless Steel blades combine the best of both worlds. They do not discolor like the carbon blades, but they can be sharpened to a keen edge that is long lasting. They do not impart any flavor into your food.
Titanium alloy blades are lighter and more flexible than steel blades. The carbon in the alloy allows them to be heat treated so they will hold an edge well. They do not impart any flavor into your food, either.
Ceramic blades are made from ceramic. They are extremely hard and will hold their e