Finding The Best Knife For Your Needs
One of the most important parts of any kitchen is a great knife. From novice chefs all the way to culinary masters, this tool is absolutely essential to the proper preparation of any recipe. Whether shopping for yourself, your kitchen or a loved one, there’s a lot that goes into finding the right chef knife for your needs.
To be able to discuss features and design in-depth, it’s important to first understand some basic knife anatomy:
- Butt: The back end of your handle.
- Heel: The back end of the blade, closest to your fingers.
- Tip: The front half of the blade. Not to be confused with the point.
- Point: The literal pointy bit at the end of the knife.
- Edge: The sharp side of the blade. Be careful.
- Spine: The top of the blade. Some people place their index fingers along the length of the spine as they chop, but this is considered bad technique.
- Tang: The steel that extends past your knife blade and into the handle. When a knife has a full tang, it means the steel goes all the way to the butt.
- Bolster: The thick band of steel between the knife handle and the knife heel. A full bolster extends all the way into the heel; a half bolster stops before the heel. Some knives have no bolster at all.
- Granton Edge: The dimples on the blade. Not all knives have them. In theory, these stop food from sticking as you chop.
After familiarizing yourself with the proper terminology, how do you go about finding the best knife out there? The answer is deceptively simple: it’s different for most people. Knives are an extremely personal tool. At their best, they are an extension of a chef’s hand, but at their worst, they’re bulky and awkward and can encumber the most important parts of preparing a meal. Here are some important aspects to consider:
Knives come in a huge variety of sizes, and many brands offer multiple lines of knives. If you’re in the market for just one all-purpose and high performing knife, shoot for a length of eight inches, as many experts suggest. Eight inches is great for most types of food you’ll come across, and remember that more isn’t necessarily better. A 12 or 13-inch blade might look impressive but can make it hard to be nimble with your movements.
There is a seemingly endless slew of options that affect every part of the knife: full bolster? Half bolster? Full tang? Granton edge? It can get incredibly overwhelming. No guide can help you answer all of these questions, so the best way to choose which features are a good fit for your style is to visit a store and come prepared to ask questions about the advantages and disadvantages of each aspect of the knife.
Lastly, it’s time to put your knife to the test! It should be able to do everything you’ll need in the kitchen, so be sure to try it out on a range of kitchen tasks, for example:
Herbs: can it cut the leaves without bruising them?
Carrots: can it slice carrots without splintering them?
Butternut Squash: can it slice into and peel it?
Chicken: can it successfully butterfly a breast?
At the end of the day, the best knife for your needs will come down to personal preference and, ultimately, how excited you are to use it!
Test your knife on this succulent gourmet pork rib roast