There are many things an aspiring chef or an adventurous home cook needs to learn in order to get the most out of the kitchen. One of the more overlooked is the need to know the differences between the various types of chefs knives. Why are there so many different kinds, and are there any that are better at some jobs than at others?
A chef's knife - sometimes called a French Knife - is usually 8 inches long with a blade that is 1 1/2 inches broad and that tapers towards the end. Knives can range in size, though, up to around 14 inches long. Historically, the chef's knife was designed to help cut large slices of meat, especially beef. Today, however, they can be used to dice, slice and chop almost any kind of food.
It's very important when choosing a knife to consider a number of different things. Quality is, of course, the most important. In the next paragraph, we will look at some of the better named brands that offer reliability and sturdiness as standard. Firstly, though, some general points to consider. When picking up a knife, does it feel comfortable in the hand? You will be handling your knives frequently, so you don't want a knife that is uncomfortable to hold. When making slicing and chopping motions, does the knife feel right in your hand? If the blade doesn't move easily for you, then it's the wrong fit for you. Test the blade for firmness and solidity. It should have good springiness, but not feel flimsy or lightweight.
There are a number of manufacturers who produce top quality knives. Here are some of the best known as an example of what to look for. Wusthof Knives are made in Germany from a company that has been family-owned for seven generations. They produce top quality knives and other kitchen equipment. Henckels knives is also based in Germany. It was established in 1731 and as you would expect from such a long-established firm, offers high quality chefs knives. Perhaps most famous for its Swiss Army Knife brand, Victorinox knives are another long-established maker of top-quality chef knives. Finally, Global knives from Japan offer the highest quality stainless steel knives, with a distinctive, one-piece design.
Any of the above knife manufacturers will provide top quality equipment for the serious cooking enthusiast. However, using one of these knives requires some thought to their care, as well. To protect your investment, it is highly recommended never to wash them in a dishwasher. Avoid cutting on dull surfaces as this will dull the knife, and always follow manufacturer's instructions on sharpening. Finally, always store them in a knife block.
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