How to Choose Quality Kitchen Knives
A good set of knives is one of the most important kitchen investments you will make. While buying a set will cover most of your basic needs, keen cooks may find it more useful to pick individual knives suited to their cooking habits. With prices to match any budget, research the market before laying down your cash, as a good knife should be a long term investment and a poor choice will be frustrating at every slice.
The sharp end
The different materials used to form the blade vary in both price and durability.
Stainless steel - the most popular blade material, stainless steel is affordable but will need regular sharpening to maintain good cutting properties.
Carbon steel - the slightly higher price point is offset by a better blade life.
Ceramic - one of the hardest but lightest materials for a knife blade, ceramic offers a super smooth cutting edge and a long life blade.
Damascus - a multi layer blade, with a carbon steel base laminated with soft and hard layers of stainless steel alloy for a super durable blade that can be ground down to maintain sharpness.
Titanium - the strongest metal by weight, other materials are combined with titanium in a knife blade for an extremely hard wearing but super light weight blade.
The cutting edge
Scalloped edged - usually used on bread knives, for neat cutting without tearing the dough. The scalloped out shape maintains the sharpness of the blade on a long term basis.
Fluted or hollow edged - a straight edged blade with indents along one side to allow a clean cut of sticky or clinging materials by forming small air pockets. Essential for very thin slices and cheese.
Straight edged - a great all rounder, the straight edged blade needs regular sharpening to ensure a clean cut.
Serrated edge - the cutting points take the strain, allowing the serrations to stay sharp for a maintenance free blade.
The tools for the job
Pretty much every kitchen needs a chef` knife, a bread knife, a small paring knife and a serrated edged all purpose knife. After that, build your knife collection according to your cooking habits. For example, those who prepare and cook a lot of meat would do well to invest in a cleaver, a carver and a filleting or boning knife. Regular fish eaters could also find a dedicated boning knife handy.
If you eat a lot of vegetables, a decent slicing knife will be useful and bakers will need palette and cake knives.
Getting a handle on it
The blade may do most of the heavy lifting, but give a little thought to your handle. For safety`s sake you need a firm and comfortable grip when using a knife. Consider the weighting of the handle versus the blade and whether you feel more comfortable with a wooden or nylon handle.
Making it last
Many knives will be labelled as dishwasher safe but will probably retain their best condition if washed by hand.
Store knives carefully in a block or on a magnetic strip on the wall to avoid compromising the blade, and always cut onto a chopping board.
Invest in a knife sharpener to maintain the condition of your blades.
To build your collection, take a look at www.cs-catering-equipment.co.uk for a wide range of blades and accessories.