Kitchen Knives
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Knives are the most important item to a chef. In your own kitchen, a good sharp knife makes your cooking easier and safer. Good-quality knives are expensive, but will last for many years. Select easily sharpened, well-constructed knives that are comfortable and balanced in your hand.

There are several metals used for knife blades. Carbon steel is an alloy of carbon and iron, which can be sharpened easily. It does corrode and discolor easily. Stainless steel will not rust, corrode or discolor and is extremely durable. They are more difficult to sharpen, but the edge lasts longer. High-carbon stainless steel is an alloy combining the best features of carbon steel and stainless steel. It does not corrode or discolor, and is easily sharpened.

A ceramic called zirconium oxide is now used to make knife blades that are extremely sharp, very easy to clean, rustproof and nonreactive. They remain sharp for years, but have to be sharpened by a professional when the time comes. They are very expensive, and lack the flexibility of metal.

A portion of the blade fits inside the handle. That portion is called the tang. The best knives are constructed with a full tang the running the length of the handle.

Knife handles are often made of hard woods infused with plastic and riveted to the tang. Molded polypropylene handles are permanently bonded to a tang without seams or rivets. A handle should be comfortable to grip.

There are many different styles of kitchen knives.

The French or Chef’s knife is used for chopping, slicing, and mincing. The blade is from 8 to 11 inches and is wide at the heel and tapers to a point at the tip.

A utility knife is used for cutting fruits and vegetables and carving poultry. The blade is 6 to 8 inches and is narrower than the Chef’s knife.

A boning knife is used to separate meat from the bone. The thin blade is usually 5 to 7 inches long and may be flexible or rigid.

A paring knife has a blade from 2 to 4 inches. It is used for detail work or cutting fruits and vegetables. A bird’s-beak knife is similar to a paring knife but with a curved blade. It is used to cut curved surfaces.

A slicer has a long, thin blade used for slicing cooked meat. If the edge is serrated, it is used for slicing bread.

Kitchen knife safety should be a primary concern for the cook. Cutting yourself tends to ruin the appetite. Have fun and be careful.

Bon Appétit!

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