A question that I am often asked is, “What brand of Kitchen Knives do I own?”
I have three brands/sets that I own and use. I suggest visiting a store like Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table to try them out. Unlike a regular Department Store, kitchen stores may have someone that is a little more knowledgeable with the various knife sets.
- Victorinox (Rosewood Handles),
- J.A. Henckels, and
- WÜSTHOF Classic
My first knife set was a J.A. Henckels knife set. This is a good all-around knife set for the home cook.
During culinary school, we used Victorinox (Rosewood Handles). They are sturdy and durable and hold up well in a commercial kitchen. Since the handles are wood, you need to make sure they are kept clean so bacteria doesn’t build up.
After culinary school, I upgraded my knife set to WÜSTHOF. For me, I just like the feel of the knives a little better than the others. The handles are sleeker and easier to hold and maneuver than either of the other two.
What specific knives should I own?
A good knife set will include the following. You can purchase these knives separately if cost is an issue and build a set or purchase them together as a set.
- Paring Knife
The paring knife is the most used and versatile knives that you will own. A paring knife is basically a small utility knife. It is smaller and more maneuverable than a Chef Knife. It is typically used for peeling or chopping smaller fruits and vegetables. Also, for making intricate cuts, mincing and dicing and even testing the tenderness of cooked meats and vegetables.
The blade should be between 3 to 3 ½ inches in length and be slightly flexible. You should be able to get a comfortable grip on the handle to ensure maneuverability.
- Serrated Utility Knife
A utility knife is considered a mix between a paring and chef knife. Serrated utility knives have a saw-like, scalloped edge. They are typically 5″ in length. They are used for cutting through foods with a hard or tough exterior and soft interior, such as an tomato or avocado.
- Chef Knife
The Chef knife, also known as a cook’s knife, is the most important tool in the chef’s kitchen. It is typically used for slicing and disjointing large cuts of meat and for chopping or mincing vegetables. It is designed to rock back and forth on a cutting board.
The blade should be between 6 and 14 inches long, with the most typical length being 8”. Typically a Chef knife has is broad, 1 ½ inches wide at the widest point. The blade has a tapered shape and a fine sharp edge. The longer the blade, the faster it is to slice, chop or mince. However, a shorter blade is typically preferable for someone with small hands. I have smaller hands and own both a 7” and 8” Chef Knife.
- Boning Knife
A boning knife has a thin, sharp, flexible blade. It is use to remove the bones from meat. The curve of the blade allows you to cut meat and fish away from the bones and joints. The flexible blade allows for thin, precision cuts.
The blade is typically 5 to 6 ½ inches in length, although there is one brand that I know of that is 9 inches in length. The blade is typically very narrow.
- Fillet Knife
A fillet knife is in the boning knife family. It is used for deboning and filleting fish. The style of the blade allows for control while filleting. Like the boning knife, it is very flexible. The flexibility of the blade allows for smooth, precision movements along the backbone and under the skin of the fish. It also helps with removing fish bones.
Filet blades are typically 15 to 28 inches long for large fish, with 7 inch being typical for the home cook. The trailing point blade design allows for easy piercing, slicing and skinning.
- Bread Knife
A bread knife has a thick-blade. Like the serrated knife if has a scalloped, saw-like edge to the blade making it perfect for slicing crusty loaves of bread.
The blade is typically 8 to 9 inches in length. The serrations in the bread knifes are very deep. This makes it an excellent tool for slicing bread, but not as effective at slicing through other food products.
- Serrated Slicing Knife (used for slicing Ham)
A serrated slicing knife is used for slicing cooked meats, typically a ham.
The blade is long and straight, with a rounded tip. The serrations are very shallow unlike the bread knife to prevent tearing the meat while slicing. The hollow edge creates small air pockets between blade and food in order to reduce friction and drag.
- Honing Steel
A honing steel, sometimes called a sharpening steel. A honing steel will smooth out the edge of the blade after you sharpen the knife on a whetstone. It helps to revive the edge after repeated cutting, slicing or chopping.
A honing steel can be up to 1 foot in length, with a 10 inch the most common.
It is also good to own: A Sharpening Stone or Whetstone, Kitchen/Utility Shears, Poultry Shears, a good set of Steak Knives and Cheese Knives. I also have a Meat Cleaver, but I don’t use it as frequently as I used to, as I typically purchase meat that is already cut into the portions I need. A Carving Set is also good to have unless you are using an electric knife.
I typically prefer forged, full-tang blades. Full-tang means that the blade extends into the handle and provides balance. A full-tang blade is considered superior and durable. This is the mark of a high-quality knife and they will last longer.
Maintaining the sharpness of the knife is key to getting defined cuts and will help with safety when using the knife.
Here is an article on how to hone and sharpen your knives.
I hope you found this information on Kitchen Knives helpful. Don’t forget to go back to the The Finished Dish’s Home Page, scroll down on the right side and subscribe. You will be emailed each time I post a new recipe.