Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Time to talk equipment - Knives

I'm going to change it up a bit and start to introduce some information on equipment....mostly what I use in my kitchen...hopefully some of you will find these posts useful.

So the first installment will be about knives, I'm often asked the question "What knife set should I buy?"...well my answer is none!!  The problem with sets is that you end up paying more than you need to and it contains a lot of stuff that you just don't need.  Useless items just cause clutter and clutter is the last thing you want in a kitchen.  So here are what I recommend when asked about knives.

These 4 items will take care of about 95% of your cutting needs...A good 8 or 10 inch chef's knife, a 6 inch flex boning knife, a 3 1/2 inch paring knife and a honing steel.

The honing steel....remember this doesn't sharpen your knifes, it just straightens out the cutting edge on them. You should get in the habit of giving your knife a few swipes across the steel every couple times you pull it out for use.  Also keep in mind that the safest knife is a sharp one, so you should either purchase an electric sharpener or take and get them sharpened at least once or twice a year..every 6 months is a good time frame.  A dull knife requires more force to use and that is when accidents happen.  I use a 10 inch Wusthof steel and it runs between $25-50

The chef's knife....this is your workhorse and will get the majority of the use.  Now there are a wide range of brands and prices when it comes to a good quality chefs knife.  A thing to remember is that high price does not always mean high quality!

Here are 2 examples of what I have..the top one is a very pricey Wusthof ($200+) and the bottom is a super affordable Victorinox ($35)  I can tell you that they both work very well, but the Victorinox is the one I almost always use...its ultra sharp, holds its edge very well and is very comfortable in the hand.  Plus at only $35 if i were to do something stupid and bust the tip off it is very easy to replace.

The paring knife....when the job calls for a small knife you grab the paring knife. Mine is a 3.5 inch Wusthof ($40)  This thing is amazingly cutting with a razor blade.  Victorinox also makes a nice 3.75 inch paring knife that comes in around $8, i own one and its great, just not as nice as the Wusthof.

The flex boning knife....this one doesn't get used much but comes in very handy when you need it.  whether you are breaking down a fish or boning out a ham or segmenting a whole chicken.  My choice here is the Victorinox 6 inch ($20)

A few other seldom used knives that you will want to have on hand are a good bread slicer, again I go with the Wusthof Classic 10 inch ($120)...the price is a bit high but you are paying for a quality product here.  The last knife in your set should be a slicing knife, this will be used when you are carving up any cut of meat..from steaks to a turkey.  The granton edge does the best job for cleanly slicing the fibers of the meat for a clean cut with very little tearing.  For that task I turn to the Victorinox 12 inch granton edge slicing knife ($53).

Storage!!....since you are piecing a set together with the best for the job knife you need a storage solution.  some like the magnetic strip, I'm not a big fan of that for a few its easy to damage the edge if you take it off the magnet wrong, also a less desirable solution if you have little hands around your kitchen.  So I use a generic knife block from Ikea that costs me about $12

I will end here by talking a little bit about knife care...which is a very important part of keeping your tools in good working order.  Rule #1...NEVER put a knife in the dishwasher!  I can't stress that enough. All you need is a good long handles soft bristled brush and some dish soap to get the job done.

I purchase my dish soap in a very large a gallon i think and just keep filling up a condiment bottle that sits on my sink.  Don't let food particles dry on your knife and wash them as soon as possible after you are done using it.  Never put a knife in a sink full of water, its dangerous to find and also for someone who doesn't know it is in there.

So there you have a little info on how to go about getting a good set of working knives for you kitchen that will make cooking much more enjoyable and safer.  If you would like any more information or recommendation just leave a comment below!


  1. Great info! Today I learned I knew nothing about knife care!

  2. Jon, great read. I would add 1 for sure knife to your list (a 10" serrated bread knife for slicing bread) and a maybe knife (7" Santoku in addition to a traditional chef's knife or as a substitution. Santoku is a better "chopper" for fine dicing of vegies.). I would avoid an electrical knife sharpener as they tend to: a) have the wrong grind for the blade and b) have the wrong grit and put scratches into the blade. Better to use a tri-stone system ( Amazon: Smith's TRI-6 Arkansas TRI-HONE Sharpening Stones System) and learn to "do it right". Great Job, Jon!