I have been wanting to do a post about knives since I started this blog, but it just hasn’t happened. I even took photos at one point…photos that have since been relegated to the trash bin. But, today is the day! The post is happening! Let’s talk knives!
1. What knives do you need?
Well, you only need THREE knives. That’s right, three. A paring knife (or other small knife that you are comfortable with), a chef’s knife (larger, multi-purpose) and a long serrated knife. If you have that, you’re all set. Of course, there are lots of other great knives out there that I’m sure are perfectly loveable. But if we’re talking need, these three will do it.
For Christmas years ago Nate bought me three Wusthof knives - a 3″ paring knife with hollow edge, a 6 1/2″ santoku knife with hollow edge, and a super slicer (serrated). They’ve been perfect. I’ve never felt a need to buy anything more. I use the serrated slicer only for bread and slicing cooked meat. My paring and chef’s knives take care of the rest.
Quick note on the chef’s knife. We originally bought a Japanese santoku knife, which has a flat edge. Wusthof recently sent me an 8″ cook’s knife with their new PEtec edge to try out. This new knife has the classic shape, where the blade curves up towards the end. I honestly can’t tell you which I like better. (See the two knives in the picture below, side by side.) The classic shape is definitely nicer when chopping herbs, but other than that, I like both shapes. The best thing to do is to try them out and see what feels good in your hand. I think I do like the smaller 6 1/2″ size as opposed to 8″, but that might be just because that’s what I’ve used for so long and it’s what I’m used to.
For the paring knife, I do wish that mine had the classic shape, instead of the santoku flat shape. It’s just so small that the flat edge doesn’t work for me as well. That said, I still love my paring knife and have done just fine using it over the years.
2. Invest in high-quality knives.
Buying knives is a lifetime investment. Buy good ones. They will last you forever. And since you only have to buy three knives instead of a huge set, you can afford to!
3. Hone your knife every time you use it.
Yes, every time. Honing realigns the edge of the knife and will keep your knife sharper longer.The video below from Fine Cooking is a great tutorial on honing.
4. Have your knives professionally sharpened.
Not much else to say here. If you’re honing at each use, you won’t have to sharpen them very often, probably once a year or so. Sharpening is different than honing and actually grinds the metal to get your edge back to a sharp state. There are plenty of sharpening tools out there, and my friend who is a chef has equipment to sharpen her own knives. But unless you really know what you’re doing, I would go to a professional.
5. Take care of your knives.
- Store them properly. I store mine on the wall with a magnetic wall holder, but a block (either on the counter or in your drawer) is a great option. Bottom line – you want them stationary and not touching one another. And you want them safely stored so no one gets hurt!
- Don’t put your beautiful knives in the dishwasher! It’s not that hard to hand wash them, so just do it.
- Don’t cut bones with your knives. Unless you buy a knife specifically for that purpose, the bones will damage the blade.
- Don’t cut on glass – plates, cutting boards, whatever. I get the chills just thinking about it!
I think that’s it! This post has been bumping around inside my brain for years, so I’m hoping I remembered everything! Feel free to share your own thoughts and suggestions, or tell us about the knives you use and love!