Well Equipped Kitchen: Knife Knowledge Part One

Well Equipped Kitchen: Knife Knowledge Part One
Knives used for chopping meats & cheeses or slicing into a ripe tomato are vastly different. A well-equipped kitchen possesses the knives you need to tackle everyday tasks as well as special occasions. Although the type of dishes you commonly prepare determines the best knives for your block, the following guidelines will help you choose the best way to select a blade.
Feeling the Heft of the Knife
First, you must hold the knife. Find the bolster - the place where the blade connects to the handle and offers a convenient place to rest the index finger. Look for a knife that balances in your hand as you grip the bolster. The heavier the handle, the longer the tang (the length of the blade that extends into the handle). If not fully balanced, this can indicate that the tang is tapered or partial. This weight and heft will determine your precision with the knife; how fast you can chop, dice and slice. If it's unbalanced or lacking a firm weighted feel appropriate to the size, you'll end up doing more work.
Serrated or Non-Serrated?
Soft-fleshed items such as tomatoes need a well-sharpened and/or serrated knife. Cucumbers, on the other hand, can suffice with a straight everyday blade. Either knife would work for a smorgasbord of cheese and cured meats. The main consideration is how often the knife will be used - serrated knives don’t take to sharpening as well over time so you would be best suited to purchase a knife that you could replace within a few years. A straight blade, on the other hand, can last several years if properly cared for. In the next part of this series, we'll discuss a mix of knives to meet all needs and budgets.
How to Care for your Knives
As mentioned above, a dull blade makes for extra work. Knives should be sharpened every three months at minimum, more so if regularly used. If you’re uncomfortable with sharpening blades on your own, a local kitchen shop or knife craftsman is a great resource. Be sure to ask when to expect them returned - some services can take up to two weeks. To reduce the chance of dulling your knives, store them properly with the use of a knife block, drawer insert or magnetic wall mount, all of which come in a range of finishes and appearance.
As with anything, knives vary widely in quality and cost. Be prepared to spend between $125-$350 for your perfect carving companion and under $50 for a replaceable serrated blade. The staff at Belle Cose is available to answer any questions and help you select the ideal blade to add to your block. It's important to see and feel the knife before you decide what's best for you. A good purchase is well worth the investment. Thank you to our friends at livingthegourmet.com for the perfect charcuterie board, Wusthof Knives for their expertise, and Kuhn Rikon for their endless supply of colorful kitchen cutlery.
Look for the next installment in the series - "the three knives every kitchen needs" and visit us here every Monday to find out What's Cooking. Find us on Facebook and Instagram for more inspiration and tips on living life beautifully.