Guide to Buying Kitchen Knives
Whether you are an expert, or just someone who is looking to buy a new knife for your kitchen, the criteria that needs to be evaluated before buying a knife can sometimes be very important. To help you make the right decisions, ALFI International, Inc has developed this very easy guide to buying cutlery. If your questions are not answered in this tutorial, please feel free to contact us at anytime.
1. Choosing Kitchen Knives Based On Functionality
Knives come in different shapes and sizes based on the functions that you will be using them for. We have outlined the most popular knife types and their functions.
Chef Knives range from 6-12" in length (8" being the most popular) and are used for chopping, mincing and dicing. The knife has a broad "flat" (blade) and is typically the knife used for most tasks. The knife is best used on a cutting board by rocking it on it's curving edge and using the tip as a stationary pivot. You can use it's back to break bones and scrape foods from the board. The flat side is good for crushing things like herbs and spices.
A paring knife is generally not suitable for large and chunky foods, but is ideal for preparing vegetables, fruit, and potatoes. Paring knives generally range in length from 2"-4" and have a variety of shapes and curves. Paring knives are also great for boning chicken.
Slicers are typically narrow and thin bladed and range from 8"-12". They are used for cutting meats into very thin slices. The more flexibility in the knife, the thinner slices you can cut with it.
The very broad, thick blade of the Cleaver and it's heavy weight make cutting bones and splitting ribs very easy. The heavier the cleaver, the easier it is to use. The cleaver's thick edge will not chip easily.
Boning Knives typically have a narrow blade length of 5-6/12". There are two types of boning knives, stiff and flexible. Stiff boning knives are good for boning beef, while flexible boning knives are good for poultry.
Fillet knives are flexible and have a blade length typically of 6 1/2" - 9". These knives are great for filleting fish or chicken.
Steels are used to sharpen your knives. Typically better results are provided if you use the steel every time you use a knife. A regular metal steel will not sharpen a dull blade. Steels realign the edge of the blade. Diamond-studded steels will do a better job at sharpening a dull edge. Be very careful when using a steel as each stroke used will remove metal.
When purchasing a knife, the sizes typically listed reflect the blade length. This is important to take into consideration when researching possible products.
2. Forged Vs. Stamped
Quality is very important to take into consideration when searching for your knives. There are two important construction elements to think about when doing your research. Do you want forged knives, or stamped knives? Let's go into detail on both of these.
Forged knives undergo a treatment process to enhance the flexibility, density, and hardness of the knife. Forged knives tend to be heavier than stamped knives but also better balanced. Forged knives are hand made through a process of extreme heat and hand moulding. Each knife is carefully and hand crafted with extreme detail. The tang of the knife merges into the handle and is typically secured by three rivets.
Stamped knives are made from templated cutters that cut the shape of the knives into flat metal. Stamped knives generally serve as everyday workhorses in the kitchen for their light-weight and easy maintenance.
3. Anatomy Of The Kitchen Knife
What is a bolster, tang, and handle? Let's discuss.
The bolster can be found between the handle of the blade. The bolster is a thick piece of metal that adds weight to the knife to provide extra balance and comfort. Some people call the bolster a "shank" but it is the same thing.
The tang runs from the bolster back into the handle. The tang can be seen from the top, bottom, and back of the knife. High quality knives have a full tang, while some of the lesser quality knives have half tangs. Half tangs are visible only on the top and back of the handle. The tang is held to the handle with rivets.
Handles can be made of different materials. Wood handles tend to need higher maintenance as they need to be treated with oil to keep it healthy. Plastic handles can sometimes break if not taken care of well. Today however, handles can be made of polyokymethylene which offers excellent comfort and quality. Polyokymethylene is almost unbreakable and can last almost forever.
Take into consideration the shape of the handle also. Handles come in various shapes to provide grips that can cater to almost everybody.