Wusthof, Victorinox, Shun, Henckels, Global – we can go on and on. These are various brands of kitchen knives that are available out there and most of you have heard or even own one, or more.
The question that I am tackling today is Which Knives Do I Need?
There are tons of knives out there that do incredible tasks – knives that release better, cut better, or do a specific job. Although these knives are excellent and will do what they are advertised to do, the average consumer will never need them all. There are truly only 3 knives that every consumer should have in their home as the basis to creating meals in your kitchen. If you treat your knives well, they should last you for life.
As a side note: I encourage those who have kitchen knives to consider knife storage, cutting board, and general care. For example: I never never never put my knives in the dishwasher. The dishwasher dulls the knife, leaves water spots, and over time depending on the knife will promote rust. I will ensure to write a future article on cutting boards.
You only “need” 3 knives
To kill the suspense these are a Chefs Knife, a Pairing/Utility Knife, and a bread knife. (Alternate number 4 could be a boning knife, but we are getting ahead of ourselves)
The best way to pick out a brand is to use it in store. This could be done at any retailer which specializes in kitchen wares such as The Cooks Warehouse, or Sur La Table. If you do not have the luxury of a local store with a knife selection consider online shopping and return if you are not satisfied. As a quick note, you will find that german knives such as Wusthof have more weight in them than their competitors Global and Japanese knives like Shun. What is important is what feels best in YOUR hand!
The Chef’s Knife
The most widely recognized knife is understandably the Chef’s Knife. The classic look of it does not vary significantly from brand to brand. The chef knife comes in various sizes which relate to the blade length – the most common are 8 – 10. I see more consumers lean towards the 8 inch knife because it is easier to handle and maneuver but with everything comes a learning curve.
The Chef’s Knife will be your best friend in the kitchen and the knife you will pull from your block 90% of the time. This is an all purpose knife with a mission to cut veggies, potatoes, etc with ease. The biggest confusion point is the equating of Big Food = Big Knife, Little Food = Little Knife. Wrong! This big guy can breeze through regardless of size. For example, shallots are small – but you will be there forever with a utility knife.
The Pairing/Utility Knife
For intricate/close work the pairing knife is the knife you grab. The other 9% of the time that I reach for my knife block I grab this knife to do tasks such as removing the peel from an apple, removing stems from strawberries, de-veining shrimp, etc. Once you figure out which brand feels good in your hand from a Chef knife perspective I find that keeping with that brand through the rest of the knives in your kitchen is best.
The Bread Knife
Have you ever gone for a good crusty bread to dip into your chili and the crumbs fly everywhere on your counter? A well sharpened bread knife resolves the majority of this issue and helps break through that last part that you keep sawing away to separate the pieces. Some bread knifes come with a un-serrated tip which is ideal for me because this is a “crust buster” that you use to release the bread in one stroke.
No matter which knife brand you pick, these three knives are really all that you need to get everything done. Unless you are constantly skinning or deboning there is not a need for a boning knife – but consider putting one on your birthday list to make life just that much better at the end of the day.
Let me know any questions you may have and I will try my best to share my experience with various knives with you.