Perhaps you have purchased your first knife set. Or maybe you were lucky enough to be gifted one. Either way, you take it home and open it up (or unroll it), and you see gleaming blades of various thicknesses, width, length, and overall size. You’ll probably recognize a couple of them. Mainly the serrated edges of the bread knife and the normal-looking chef’s knife. But you might not know what the rest are for.
There are many types of knives based on their shape, handle, and what they are used for. But before we get into that, let’s talk about proper honing first.
Knives are tools, essential kitchen equipment to get your food on the table. And as such, these need maintenance and care. If you are a kitchen newbie or a home-maker who just wants to make their lives easier, purchase a Lebeau Honer. This is an essential kitchen tool for honing your knives. This honing device has two honing steel rods crisscrossed. All you need to do is slide your knife between them a few times, and you have yourself a sharp knife ready to use. If you prefer a single rod honing steel, that one will probably come with your knife set. To use it:
- Hold the steel metal tip down, gripping the handle with your hand.
- Hold your knife, heel first, against the top of honing steel at a 22-degree angle.
- Slide the blade downwards in a left to right motion to get both sides of the blade sharp.
This is the safer way of honing your knife.
Now that we are done with how to keep your knife edge sharp let’s talk about the different types of knives you might see in your knife set.
Different types of knives and their uses
It is perhaps the most versatile of all knives in your set. It is also the most common knife you see people use. These knives are usually 8 to 10 inches long and have a tip that rounds up at the top.
This knife is suitable for nearly everything: cutting meat, dicing fruits, chopping up vegetables and spices. It is an excellent blade to use when slicing raw fish, poultry, and meats. A good chef’s knife feels balanced and has a sharp, sturdy blade.
It is the smaller version of the chef’s knife. You use this knife for smaller types of food, ones for which the chef’s knife seems too large and unwieldy. Utility knives are suitable for chopping and dicing.
The paring knife has a slim blade with a pointed tip almost the same size as the utility knife. It is light and perfect for peeling fruits and vegetables and removing seeds. Despite their size, paring knives can also cut through hard vegetables because of their very sharp edge.
Cleavers are large, flat, rectangular-shaped knives. These are heavy knives, usually with thick blades to cut through thick meats and bones. This knife is suitable for cutting large chunks of meat (like ribs) and portioning them. This knife is also suitable for crushing things like garlic and ginger (if you like crushing ginger, that is).
Japanese-style Santoku knives are precision instruments. They have long blades with a slight taper at the top. A drop point brings precision when cutting or chopping, or dicing. These blades also have notches or dimpling along the blade to allow food to slide off more easily. You can use these knives on fish for sushi prep or vegetables.
Most people identify these knives by their serrated edges akin to the teeth of a saw. These teeth allow the knife to cut through soft things without crushing the food out of shape. It is perfect for cutting bread (of course), cakes, and other pastries. It can also be used as a cake leveler, cutting the tops off cakes until they are even.
Carving knives are used to cut cooked meat. Never use your chef’s knife to do the job of a carving knife. The carving knife is one of the longest knives in your set. It is a slim knife that tapers into a sharp point. It has a narrow width to produce nice, thin, even slices of any cooked meat. They are also long enough to cut a cake across in one stroke.
Your knife set may have more or fewer knives than the ones listed here. These are just the most common ones included in a knife set. Or ones that are good to have around in your kitchen.