Have you struggled while chopping onions or dicing carrots? Does the tomato slip when you try to cut it? Do you have a hard time cutting a pineapple? If you said yes to one or more of these questions, maybe you do not have the best kitchen knives with you. In this article, we have presented top kitchen knife sets and the best chef knives based on real user reviews.
Most of the time you spend actively cooking and a majority of your time is spent in cutting and chopping of items. A good set of kitchen knives will help you make the most of your time in the kitchen and will also make it a fun and pleasurable experience.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Single Most Important Knife: Chef’s knife
- 2 The Anatomy of a Kitchen Knife
- 3 Types of Knives
- 4 Types of Kitchen Knives you must have
- 5 Forged Knife or Stamped Knife?
- 6 Facts to help you find the Best Kitchen Knife
- 7 How to take care of your Kitchen Knife?
- 8 How to Maintain Your Kitchen Knife?
- 9 Cutting Boards
- 10 How often do you need to sharpen the Best Kitchen Knife?
The Single Most Important Knife: Chef’s knife
While different knives are needed to make different cuts and chops, if you are only going to be using one good knife in your kitchen that will help you in most of your tasks, you should get an 8” or a 10″ chef’s knife. The 10″ is preferred as it will help you cut through most things without having to pull and push the blade through or lift it off the edge.The best way to hold a chef’s knife is to hold it from the bolster as it will give you more control over the movements of the body as compared to holding it from only the handle. The next thing is to curl up your knuckles and slide the knife against one or two of your fingers so you know where the knife is and how much are you cutting and your fingers are also out of harm’s way. If you are new to a chef’s knife, you may want to keep your fingers away from the sharp blade altogether and practice cutting first that way.These knives typically need little maintenance as compared to the poor quality sets. As a rule of thumb, you should hone your knife by running it against sharpening steel once every week or two to maintain the sharpness of your knives, or else they will need sharpening often.
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The Anatomy of a Kitchen Knife
All knives, no matter what size it is, what shape it is, which make it is, and which culture has it originated from, will have the below components. Best kitchen knives are made by companies who pay attention to these details.The blade (comprised of spine, tip a.k.a. point, cutting edge, and heel), the bolster, and a handle.The spine is also sometimes known as the back of a knife. It is the ticker side of the blade whereas the cutting edge is the sharper side of the blade. The shape allows one to grip it and apply pressure if needed.The tip is generally thin and sharp, however may find knives that have a rounded tip or a straight tip. The tip comes in handy for carvings, making thin strips, cutting small items, and making incisions in food for fillings.
The cutting edge is the bottom edge of the blade and is typically the most used side of the blade to make cuts or to chop food. It runs from the tip to the heel of the blade. The edges may have different grinds that serve different purposes.
The heel is the lower end of the blade opposite to the tip which is sometimes used to cut items that require pressure and extra effort.
A bolster, as the name suggests is the part that provides support to your fingers (by giving them a place to hold on to) and helps you grip the body in a better way leading to better control of the knife when cutting. The bolster is the part of the blade just before the handle and runs from the spine to the cutting edge.
After the cutting edge, the most important part is the handle because that is where you will be gripping the knife from. The highest quality knives will have a comfortable grip which will help you hold them in place and have control when making cuts. If the handle is not comfortable to grip, slips from your hand, too big or too small it will make cutting and chopping a difficult task.
Types of Knives
Kitchen knives can be categorized based on the materials used to make the blade, handles, etc., and the purpose of the knife. There are also many multi-purpose knives. The main one you should know about is the Santoku knife. Santoku knives are some of the best multi-purpose knives. They have a wider blade as compared to a regular chef’s knife and are thinner in thickness. You will find santoku knives in both varieties – standard edge and Granton edge (hollow ground edge).Other types of knives based on the purpose they are specifically designed for include – bird’s beak, boning, butter, carving, cheese, chef’s, chestnut, clam, cleaver, deli, frozen food, mincing, paring, sandwich, slicing, and others.Stainless Steel is the material typically used for knives but they can also be made out of ceramic. The material used to make the handle adds character and is also a way to categorize knives. The common materials used are wood, plastic, metal and in some cases, a blend of these. Best kitchen knife will be comfortable to grip and will also feel sturdy.
Kitchen knives in the popular market are made of a few types of material. You may want to choose kitchen knives based on their material for different advantages:
- Carbon Steel Knives
- Stainless Steel Knives
- High Carbon Stainless Steel Knives
- Ceramic Knives
Carbon Steel Knives
These kitchen knives are commonly found from the old days and are still available. Carbon steel is an alloy. Knives made from carbon steel keep their edge well and are very easy to resharpen compared to other materials such as stainless steel. However, the downside is that such knives easily rust or discolor and may transfer a metallic taste to the acidic food they cut.
Stainless Steel Knives
Stainless steel is the most common material used for kitchen knives nowadays. Stainless steel knives can be inexpensive depending on their forging methods. They do not corrode easily and are more resistant to stains and rust, but may also get rust spots if left to air dry after washing. Stainless steel knives need more frequent sharpening.
High Carbon Stainless Steel Knives
This is the material that many Western or German knives use, to get the best of both worlds. Kitchen knives made from high carbon stainless steel are high-quality, strong knives that hold their edge well.
Ceramic kitchen knives may be very sharp and keep their edge for the longest time compared to other types of knives, but they are hard, inflexible, and brittle. They will chip or break if put to improper use, and you may not be able to sharpen them yourself when the need eventually arises.
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Types of Kitchen Knives you must have
Before you go ahead and choose your best kitchen knives, you need to know that a well-equipped home kitchen should have at least four types of knives:
Which 4 types of kitchen knives are an absolute must in the kitchen?
- The Chef’s Knife
- Utility Knife
- Paring Knife
- Bread Knife
The Chef’s Knife
Usually, 8 inches long, the chef’s knife is the most important knife and the workhorse of the kitchen. You should always have your chef knife when you cook. You will use it for all kinds of tasks like chopping, dicing, slicing, mincing, and other general cutting.
A utility knife is a smaller and narrower knife from 4 to 6 inches and is often used interchangeably with a chef’s knife for cutting and slicing. It’s lighter and is often used to cut small vegetables or fruits. It is also used to cut a vegetable quickly when the chef’s knife is being used for cutting meat or chicken, to avoid contamination.
A paring knife is usually 3 to 4 inches long, used to peel or core fruits and vegetables, though it can also be used to cut and slice small items. Its short length is to avoid stabbing yourself when you are holding the item being peeled in the other hand.
The bread knife is a long, serrated knife used to cut bread, buns, or cakes. The serrated edge helps the knife go through food without squashing or flattening it. Some bread knives are not serrated but are sharp enough to slice similar food.
Forged Knife or Stamped Knife?
You must have heard people going back and forth about how a knife is great because it is a forged knife and not a stamped knife, but it is not entirely true that stamped knives are not as good as forged ones.
What is different between a Forged knife and a Stamped knife?
They are the different methods for creating the blade of the knife.
Forged knives are made from a single piece of steel, hand-molded and shaped before going through a treatment process that involves high heat and then polished and sharpened. Computers are used and tests are carried out to ensure precision.
The tang which is the end part of the blade merges with the handle and is sometimes secured by three rivets for a traditional look. Forged knives can be easily recognized by the presence of a bolster, which is a rounded or semi-rounded part of the blade where the blade meets the handle. A bolster keeps food from entering the joint which makes the knife easier to clean.
A forged knife is typically heavier, stronger, and has better edge retention. The downside of a forged knife is that it is often expensive and maybe too heavy for some users.
Stamped knives have their blades cut out from one big blank ribbon of steel and then sharpened. This process is quick and easy to create a lot of knives at once. The blade is thinner and has a thin back, making it a lightweight knife that is good for maneuverability even though many stamped knives lack balance due to a heavier handle. It is also not as strong, needs to be sharpened more often, and doesn’t last as long as forged knives. On the bright side, stamped knives are the cheaper ones.
Facts to help you find the Best Kitchen Knife
I can tell you it’s frustrating to cook when you have kitchen knives that
- Can’t easily cut through meats
- Are uncomfortable to hold after a while
- Dull easily
- Are hard to clean or stains easily
Here are the seven facts or standards that I put each kitchen knife or knife set through before I buy to determine whether they are the best kitchen knives:
- Sharp edge – Needs no explanation.
- Cutting edge retention – This is something you can only find out later for yourself! But a little bit of online research helps.
- Material and Craftsmanship – Both blade and handle must be well made, with good materials and construction.
- Comfort and safety – A handle designed to be comfortable, ergonomic, and secure will always make a big difference here.
- Balance – A well-balanced knife will ease your job by not stressing your hand out. Knives with a full tang are often more balanced.
- Easy to sharpen – Western knives are easier to sharpen than Japanese knives due to the angle of their edges, but some manufacturers offer free sharpening service as long as you can send the knives in.
- Long-Lasting – I don’t buy my knives to be thrown away after a couple of months. I’d rather buy something expensive and will last me for at least a few years.
How to take care of your Kitchen Knife?
If you have a good quality set of knives, it’s important to know how to protect them and maintain top quality.
Most of the top-quality knives can be used for many years to come if you know how to maintain them.
How to wash your kitchen knife?
Once you have finished using each knife, wash it clean by hand and wipe it dry, and put it away in the storage block or box.
It’s not advisable to soak your best knife. Soaking may cause damage or discoloration to your knife, especially the knife’s wooden handles. Leaving your knife in the water for an extended time instead of drying them straight away may lead to discoloration. Besides that, it’s also dangerous to have a sharp knife lying around in the sink.
Dishwasher & Storage
Another important tip to keep your knives in top quality is never to put kitchen knives in a dishwasher. Even though most knives are dishwasher safe, I strongly advise you to wash your kitchen knives by hand. The high temperature of the dishwasher may damage the knife, and even if that didn’t happen, it is important to protect the edge of the blade by not putting it with other items.Keep your knives stored in the knife block or on a magnetic strip. Don’t put them in a loose box or drawer. This will help to protect the knives from dulling that may occur if they are banged around with other things thrown together loosely or the sides of the drawer.
How to Maintain Your Kitchen Knife?
To keep the blade sharp, you should sharpen them from time to time. There is two popular home-based sharpening solution every well-equipped kitchen should have. Sharpening steel and a sharpening stone.
The sharp edge of a knife may slightly bend from regular use and running the knife against sharpening steel will help realign the edge and return the sharpness to the blade. Professional chefs run their knife every time against steel to maintain the sharpness, at home doing it once or twice a week should be sufficient.
The sharpening stone is used to sharpen the knife and should be used when you start noticing that the knife has gone blunt. The sharpening stone can be of many natural and artificial materials and comes with different grits. A stone with a coarse grit on one side and a finer grit on the other side is best for home use.In the end, the best knife is one that can keep its sharpness for a long time, looks elegant, easy to grip and one you can work efficiently. Specialized knives make the job much easier and a kitchen knife set is a must for any kitchen.
Possessing the best kitchen knives is only one piece of the cutting system, you should a good chopping board, and the cutting skills to operate the knife effectively. We prefer bamboo chopping boards as bamboo is easier to clean than wood cutting boards and as bamboo grows quickly it leaves less environment foodprint.To improve your cutting skill, start by learning basic cuts and work on vegetables that are easy to cut like cucumber or carrot. Watch videos on YouTube that show you how to make certain types of cuts and follow those. After a few attempts, you will see yourself getting better. It does not take a lot of effort to pick up these skills and start cutting and chopping like a professional chef.
While anything sharp can be used to cut, most knives are designed to solve a particular purpose in the kitchen and a good kitchen knife set should have these essential knives.
How often do you need to sharpen the Best Kitchen Knife?
The best kitchen knives go a long way if you keep them honed regularly using steel or rod, and sharpened with a sharpener when they are no longer as sharp as they were even after honing.
When is it time to sharpen your kitchen knives?
One way to find out whether it is time to sharpen your kitchen knives is when your knife can’t make a clean cut through the skin of a tomato.
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