THE DL ON KNIVES
Recently I spent an afternoon at my younger brother’s house getting ready for a night out at Keith Urban’s concert. Dad assigned me the job of making everyone dinner and so all time crowd pleaser spaghetti bolognese was on the menu. I packed everything needed and brought it to Eric’s place where I set to work on preparing dinner. Little did I know that it would be a gamble with my life.
Hear me out.
If you’ve read about me and about this website you’d know that my brother isn’t exactly a Michelin star chef. However, I assumed (incorrectly) that he would at least have some decent knives.
So in the process of dicing my onions, celery and carrots I nearly lost all my fingers and it occurred to me… not many people really have the right idea when it comes to buying affordable knives that stay sharp and go the distance.
Here’s your guide to set yourself up with this kitchen essential.
There are only three kinds of knives that you really need in your kitchen. A chefs knife, a utility knife, and a bread knife.
A chefs knife is your staple knife that can be used for anything from disjointing cuts of meat to slicing veggies. It is generally 20 centimetres in length and about 4 centimetres in width at the base of the blade which has a curved contour into a pointed tip. Using the knife really depends on the individual. I love gripping halfway between the blade and handle. This feels like I have more control over the blade and I’m better able to maneuvre around whatever I need to slice.
A utility knife has a similar shape to the chefs knife, however about only about half the size. It can be used for slicing small cuts of meat or any other general kitchen task where a chefs knife may me too big or where you don’t need to slice through a bone joint. As the utility knife is smaller you’re able to use it as a quasi pairing knife for intricate cutting, peeling, and dicing.
This one is pretty self explanatory. A bread knife is used for slicing bread. It’s characterised by the coarse serrated edge which helps grip the crusty surface of the bread and slice without much downward pressure which would result in crushing the loaf. Fun fact… you can also use the bread knife to help cut the slippery skin of a tomato! Bread knives are of a similar length to the chefs knife and are a consistent width all the way along - between two(2) and three (3) centimetres.
What to look for
Anatomy of a knife
There are three key parts to a knife, the blade, the bolster and the handle.
When you’re looking at a prospective the blade (self explanatory) shouldn’t stop at the handle. Rather, it should extend to the end of the handle which then is moulded around the steel. The pointed end of the blade is called the tip and the square edge that drops down from the handle is called the heel.
Blades can either be stamped or forged.
Forged blades are made from a single piece of stainless steel and are known to stay sharper for longer, won’t rust, and won’t react with acidic ingredients.
Stamped blades are made by cutting along a template into sheets of rolled steel. This blade is much softer than a forged blade so it won’t stay sharp for as long. However, a decent manufacturer will treat the metal so that they become harder.
The bolster is the point that brings together the handle and the blade. They may include a finger guard that drops to the heal of the blade to protect the user from the blade’s sharp edge. If the knife you’re looking at doesn’t have a bolster, it’s likely that the blade is stamped rather than forged.
As mentioned when discussing the blade, the handle should be moulded around the blade. This is actually called a full tang. The steel from the blade incorporated within the handle acts as a core which serves a stronger, more durable and evenly balanced tool in the kitchen. A quality knife will balance on your index finger if you (safely) place it against the finger guard and handle and lift off the chopping board.
How much to spend
You don’t need to spend a fortune on your set of knives. Each instrument shouldn’t cost more than about $35 - $40. Here’s my top picks from Kitchen Warehouse:
Make sure you’re comfortable using the knife
The most important thing to remember when buying a knife is that it feels comfortable in your hand. If you’re comfortable using the knife you’ll be in more control and you’ll have so much more fun making a meal!