From the culinary wizards to the folks that can’t boil water, we all own knives. Of kitchen essentials, knives are near the top of the list. We use them every day for an endless list of preparations and needs. These are tools that a person really can’t have too many of. Even if a person can’t have too many, there are five basic ones that each kitchen should have. These are the basics that should keep a kitchen in good cutting order.
- Chef’s knife
- Paring knife
- Serrated knife
- Utility knife
- Kitchen shears
A chef’s knife has an 8-10-inch blade which is elongated and somewhat wedge-shaped. It is used chopping, dicing, and mincing food. The shape and weight of this knife take much of the work out of the task at hand. The primary amount of use is on the rear two thirds of the blade. The curved tip allows for stability on the cutting surface while the rear of the blade does most of the cutting. This is a perfect knife for getting uniform pieces and cuts (i.e. julienne, cubes, diced). This kitchen workhorse makes easier time of cleaving though bones, cutting butternut squash or watermelon.
Paring knives have a blade between 3.5-5”. These are best for small work and cutting in hand and make for good precision. Cutting caps off strawberries, coring an apple, mincing shallots, slicing mushrooms, and precision work on deboning meats can be done with these knives. They are good to have in multiples.
A serrated knife is ideal for cutting items that have a soft inside that is easily damaged i.e. bread, tomatoes, citrus fruits. It is also great for slicing meats. Typically, the blade is about 8” long. The scalloped edge on the blade allows the surface of the item to be scored then easily run back and forth through for slicing.
Utility knives are wonderful multi-purpose tools. They have blades between 5 and 8 inches. They work well for medium sized items that are too big for a paring knife, but too small for a chef’s knife. This is a good knife to use for non-food cutting needs in the kitchen such as cutting twine or into a box.
The fifth item is not a knife, but is a fantastic tool to have- kitchen shears. These strong scissors can cut through chicken bones, open bags, cut twine, trim pie pastry or snip herbs. They are joined in such a way that they can come apart for cleaning. Many include bottle openers and lid grips. There’s even a pair for lefties.
I have all of these in my kitchen and multiples of each. The right tool makes the job much easier and more enjoyable, not to mention a nice presentation.