Working With Knives

Knives are THE number one essential item in ANY kitchen. Save up and invest in quality. Sharp knives are safer and easier to use than cheap blunt knives. They have a well-balanced weight, and sharp edge that cannot be matched by the cheap varieties. Once you have had a “slice of the good knife” you will never go back; and wonder why you weren’t this sharp sooner!

There are some fantastic brands, but I have been using my Global knives for years. They are lightweight, and look really gorgeous!

There are a lot of specialty knives available, but the average cook only needs a few: 

  • An all-purpose chef’s knife or cook’s knife will be the knife most people use most often. You just can’t chop herbs, or slice vegetables without one.
  • A smaller chef’s knife, or utility knife, is great for light cutting and slicing.
  • A paring knife is the second most used knife – great for paring and trimming fruits and vegetables.
  • I am also going to recommend a cleaver, if you intend to crack open young Thai coconuts or any other heavy jobs that require more force and may damage the fine edge on your beloved chef’s knife.

I always rustically break up and chop most things before putting them in the blender, mixer or food processor to achieve the most uniformly combined product.

I took some knife technique classes about twenty years ago, and here are some of the top tips I got from those classes:

  • Invest in getting your knives professionally sharpened about a month after purchase, to remove the artificial edge. Most gourmet cookware shops have a knife sharpening service. Then sharpen your knives regularly with a stone or steel.
  • Always clean and wash your knives immediately after use.
  • Hand wash your knives with a soft cloth and never place them in the dishwasher, as there is friction with other cutlery and they can melt your handles!
  • Always cut on wooden or plastic boards. Glass or marble boards look gorgeous, but they will blunt your knives.
  • Don’t use your knives for anything other than cutting food. Don’t open lids, scrape off marks or stickers, or saw off skewers.
  • To best preserve the life of your knives store them correctly after being properly dried. A knife block is the most popular solution – wooden knife blocks are fantastic as they absorb moisture and have antibacterial properties. Magnetic strips or racks are also great. Just make sure the knife makes contact with the strip before letting go – never try to catch a falling knife!
  • Don’t store your knives in a kitchen drawer – they will dull with the friction from the other silverware, and are a safety risk.
  • If you are going to travel with your knives, a knife wrap is fantastic to reduce friction and increase protection.