Men's Articles

Choosing The Right Knives


For most cooks, two or three knives are enough: A large to medium-sized Chinese cleaver, a small paring knife and a general cook's knife. Cheap knives are annoying to use and dangerous: the blades are not hard enough to sharpen properly, so you press harder during use, increasing the risk of the blade slipping. Good knives are pricey, but they can be honed to a safe, sharp edge and last a lifetime if cared for. Good brands include Henckels and Victorinox.

Try Before You Buy

A knife should fit your hand, so open the box and pick up the knife.

What To Avoid

  • Too-thin blades that flex when you apply pressure.
  • Knives where the metal of the blade does not extend right till the end of the handle. It will snap off under pressure.
  • Pre-wrapped multi-sets with a boning or carving knife. Will you ever use them?

Keep It Sharp

  • Always chop on a proper cutting board, never on a granite work surface or stainless steel sink.
  • Store in a knife block or on a wall-mounted magnetic strip. Never jumble knives in drawers with other cutlery.
  • Even if the salesperson says a knife is dishwasher-safe, experts say it's better to wash it individually. Salts and acids in machine detergents harm steel knives
  • Sharpen your knives every week. Pull the blade against a whetstone at a 45-degree angle, in one direction only.

Keep Safe Tips

  • Never leave a knife near or hanging over the edge of a chopping board. It can - and will be - easily knocked off.
  • If a knife falls, never try to catch it; step back and let it hit the floor.

What's This?

A chopper or Chinese cleaver

What's It For?

Trained Chinese cooks use it for just about everything, but for most of us it's best for chopping chicken (bones and all) or cutting hard vegetables such as pumpkin - the blade's weight does halt the job for you.

Check For

A chopper should have some weight but not be too heavy to lift. A slip-proof handle is another plus.

What's This?

A paring knife with a short but sharp, pointed blade 6 to 9 cm long.

What's It For?

Peeling and coring fruit and vegetables. Good for cutting cheese and fiddly jobs such as slicing onions.

Check For

Substantial weight. The blade should not be so thin and light that it bends when peeling or coring.

What's This?

A serrated knife. It usually comes with a blade 13 to 25 cm long

What's It For?

The serrated edge cuts through soft bread, and heavy fruit like watermelon. Also good for cutting cakes.

Check For

Balance - if the handle seems too long, the knife is too big for you.

What's This?

An all-purpose cook's knife g (also called a chef's knife). It usually comes with a blade 15 to 30 cm long.

What's It For?

Ideal for slicing, dicing and mincing. Best used to debone meat or poultry before chopping.

Check For

A steady handle that doesn't wobble when you slice through meat.

 

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