How to Choose a Chef’s Knife

Undoubtedly, the most important cutlery in the kitchen is the chef’s knife, the cutting tool that you will use for most of the cooking tasks that you will perform. Regardless the type of food that you plan on cutting, chopping, mincing, or slicing, the chef’s knife is the cutlery that you will use, so it’s important for it to be of a great quality, impressive durability, and superior sharpness. In the following, we will learn more about this centerpiece of the cutlery collection in any modern kitchen, studying its anatomy, analyzing what you have to look into when buying it, and finding out how you can be 100% certain that the model you’re purchasing is actually of a good quality.

Chef’s Knife Anatomy Explained

Before you find out what you must look for and what you have to do to purchase the ideal knife, let’s first look into the anatomy of this important cutlery piece. As you can see in the picture above, the chef’s knife is composed of the butt, the tang, the heel, the edge, the tip, the point, the spine, the bolster, and the handle. Read this section of the article to learn more about each component.

  • Butt – This component is situated at the end of the knife. It comes in various shapes and sizes, and its role is to allow the person using the knife to handle it easier. Also, in some cases, this component has the role to balance the cutlery.
  • Tang – This component plays the role of providing balance to the knife. Also, it makes the cutlery piece more durable as the steel blank is integrated into the handle, thus the entire design being sturdier.
  • Heel – This component allows the person using the knife to easily cut through tough foods or products. Also, it’s used to apply pressure while cutting.
  • Edge – There are four types of edges that you will encounter, more precisely the straight edge, the serrated edge, the hollow ground edge, and the Granton edge. This component of the cutlery piece is used for cutting and other cooking tasks.
  • Tip – The tip consists of the front quarter of the blade and it can be used for various cooking tasks. For example, the actual tip can be used to apply pressure into the board when cutting vegetables, while the heel can be used to cut through the food items.
  • Point – This component is used for piercing produce, and it should never be used for cutting as it can get easily tilted and damaged.
  • Spine – This component is situated at the top of the knife, and it can be ground to a round edge for more comfort when you’re cutting or chopping produce fast.
  • Bolster – This component prevents your hand from slipping when you’re using the knife. Generally, it has a thick design and it’s heavy in order to balance the knife better.
  • Handle – This component is of an extreme importance as it’s the part that you hold in your hand when maneuvering the knife. The handle can be made from a variety of materials, the most popular being wood and stainless steel.

What to Look for In the Cutlery

There are three main elements that you have to look into when purchasing a chef’s knife and these elements are the size, the weight, and the balance of the cutlery piece. Find out why each of these elements is important by learning more about the role that they play.

  • Size

  • The size of the blade shows for what type of cooking tasks the knife is appropriate. For example, a 6-inch chef’s knife offers more agility than cutlery pieces that come with longer blades do, but it doesn’t do well when it’s confronted with volume or when you have to slice through large foods, fruits, or vegetables. The 8-inch long blade is by far the most popular choice of cooks as it’s perfect in size for all type of tasks in the kitchen, versatility being its strong point. On the other hand, the 10-inch long blades offer the cook the possibility to cut more volume. Unfortunately, they feel less comfortable to work with due to their size.

  • Weight

  • The ideal weight varies depending on the user. Some feel like a light knife is the perfect choice to go with as it allows them to move fast and freely, while others prefer to have a more forceful approach to cutting, chopping, slicing, and mincing, thus choosing a heavier chef’s knife. Regardless of the category that you fall into, make sure that you keep your preference in mind when choosing this element as it’s vital when it comes to how easy it will be for you to handle the knife and how pleasurable cooking will be for you.

  • Balance

  • Choosing this third and equally important element depends entirely on you as you have to decide what feels comfortable for you. Basically, a pre-set perfect balance doesn’t exist, this criteria being in the palm of the beholder. Just test the knife to see if it’s comfortably weighted toward the blade and toward the back of the handle. Also, don’t forget to check the side-to-side balance of the knife when using it.

How to Properly Test the Knife Before Purchasing It

Know that you know what you must look into when shopping for this important piece of cutlery, and that you’re aware of the knife’s anatomy, better understanding and appreciating it, let’s see what you must do to be 100% sure that the purchase you will make is going to be a long-lasting one. Obviously, the only bulletproof method of buying a quality knife is to test it yourself. By doing this, you not only get to see whether it’s truly sharp or not, but you get to see whether it feels comfortable in your hand and if you can maneuver it properly. The tests that you should try out to convince yourself of these aspects is to mince parsley, carve a melon, thinly cut carrot strips, and dice an onion. If the knife passes one or more of these tests and if you are able to handle it properly when using it, then it’s the right choice to go with.

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