By Jennifer Bridge
With more people cooking at home, I have received more request for information on a variety of topics. This past week someone asked me about knives. Out of all the items in my kitchen, my knives are the most expensive and one of the most used. A good set of kitchen knives is important to have and when they are properly taken care of can last a long time. It’s vital for any home chef to know about different types of knives and their functions. This ensures ease of cutting foods and knife longevity. Below are some common knives, along with their uses, that you should have in your kitchen.
• Chef’s knife – 6 to 14 inches long. This knife does everything from slicing to mincing and should be your go-to knife for all kinds of meal prep. Since you are going to be using it a lot, make sure you try out the knife for comfort before purchasing, and keep it sharp to avoid accidents.
• Paring knife – 2.5 to 4 inches long. This knife is used for peeling, cutting, and deseeding small fruits and vegetables.
• Utility knife – longer than a paring knife but shorter than a chef’s knife. Use this knife for chopping vegetables, slicing breads and bagels, slicing meats and cheeses, and cutting sandwiches.
• Slicing knife – has a long thin blade. Usually reserved for special occasions; this knife makes slicing meats easy.
• Boning knife – As its name would suggest, this knife is used to break down foods like a whole chicken or removing the skin off seafood or meat.
• Serrated knife – the blade resembles a saw. This knife can help you easily slice through food with thick or tough outer surfaces like crusty bread and tomatoes.
Proper care of knives is very important. After using a knife, promptly clean it and return it to storage. Hand-washing and towel drying are recommended. Putting knives into a dishwasher can cause the handles to discolor, crack, or separate from the blade. Storing knives wet and dirty will cause rust.
Knives should be sharpened regularly to prolong the knife, as well as to protect you. A knife which is dull requires more energy to use and the increase of injuring yourself is greater. A skin cut made with a sharp knife will heal a lot quicker.
Keep your knife blade and yourself protected by making sure the blade is not exposed during storage. You can store knives by covering the blades with plastic sheathes and placing them in a utensil drawer or storing them in wooden blocks or on magnetic strips on the wall. Make sure the knives are out of reach of children or not in a place where someone can easily get hurt.
More information on knife cuts, selection and care is available at your local office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.
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