How to Choose Cutlery

By gdlhbook, April 3, 2016

Choosing cutlery for the kitchen is often problem of not knowing what type of knife will endure abuse and what kind of knife will require  regular maintenance.  Carbon steel knives for instance keep their edge well and are cheaper than other similarly proportioned knives but they require careful cleaning and need to be lubricated with oil after each use.  Rust will develop if care isn’t taken;  a patina from the applied oil will minimize any rust flavor.  High carbon stainless steel knives on the other hand are more expensive than carbon steel  ones and they won’t rust or discolor. They keep a sharper edge than 1% carbon steel knives;  they contain alloys such as molybdenum, cobalt, or vanadium. 

Laminated knives are made by applying multiple layers of metal and letting them cool producing a harder edge than just one type of metal would. 

Titanium knives are very light  and are more wear resistant than most other knives.  They are also among the most expensive around;  the edge they form isn’t as sharp as other metals. 

Knives are categorized by purpose and here some knives and their purpose. 

Boning knives have a 4-5″ blade and are used to separate meat from the bone when preparing food for cooking. 

Bread knives have 9″ blades with serrations;  these serrations keep the bread from being crushed by the blade and cut the crust effectively. 

Chef’s knives have a 4-12″ blade and is  useful for dicing and chopping vegetables;  it’s also useful for cutting large items such as cabbage, lettuce, or watermelons. 

A cleaver has a 6″ blade and can be used for cutting through joints and is useful for cutting large quantities of vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce, or watermelons.  It has a use known to just a few people and that is crushing peppercorns;  this is done with the flat edge of the top of the blade. 

An Oriental cleaver which has a 7″ blade isn’t used to cut bones but is used to finely chop vegetables, herbs, meats, and fruits. 

Fillet knives has a thin, flexible 7″ blade and is used to l fish. 

A ham slicer has a 10″ blade and is used to cut through cooked ham. 

Paring knives have a 3 1/2 to 4″ blade and are used to dice vegetables;  some use them to fillet fish although they’re not designed to do that task. 

A type of paring knife called a bird’s beak is used for peeling small fruits and vegetables. 

A salmon slicer has a 12′ blade;  its flexible blade is used to separate skin from a smoked salmon. 

A slicer/carver has a 8-10″ blade  and has a pointed tip which can carve precisely around bones;  it’s also used to slice thin pieces of fruit and vegetables. 

Steak knives have a 5″ blade and are used to cut cooked steak and other meats. 

A tomato/bagel knife has a 5″ serrated blade and is of course used to cut tomatoes and bagels. 

A utility knife has a 6″ serrated blade and is used for many things in the kitchen.