Learning about Chef's Knives

By: Callie Green


Chef's knives are essential for anyone who does a lot of food preparation from pro chefs to persons who spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking at home. A good chef's knife is appropriate for a variety of tasks including slicing, dicing, mincing and chopping. With proper care, chef's knives can last a very long time in spite of prolonged, daily use.

So what is a chef's knife? Chef's knives generally have an eight inch long blade and are roughly one and a half inches wide. The most common designs are curved in the direction of the blade tip, which allows for efficient food chopping by rocking the knife up and down. The less widespread French design is straighter and more pointed. This design is perfect for slicing where the knife is pulled toward the user. Neither design is inherently better than the other. The sort of chef's knife you choose will come down to your preferences and style. Japanese santoku knives have become ever more popular amongst chefs and cooking enthusiasts in the West. Santoku knives are flat edged knives that perform well at lots of food prep tasks. Santoku knives are light weight and easier to control. The straighter lines and the alignment between handle and blade make these knives simple to control. Regardless of the style of chef's knife you select, your chef's knife will become your primary knife and will most likely turn out to be the most used out of all of your prep knives.

There are a few different kinds of materials used in making chef's knife blades so you will have lots of choices when you go to buy a chef's knife. Each material has its own set of pros and cons. The stainless steel chef's knife is one of the most generally available. Stainless steel knives can hold their edges for a good bit of time and as the name implies they are less subject to staining or rusting. Carbon steel chef's knives are also popular, but are subject to stains and rusting. A carbon steel knife is easier to sharpen and will keep its edge better than stainless, but needs more general effort to maintain and properly clean. Laminated blades are made by creating layers of two or more different types of material in order to merge the best characteristics of different steels. Benefits of laminated steel blades include more lasting edges and less maintenance. Ceramic chef's knives will remain sharper longer than a steel knife. The downside is that they are not as durable and can chip or break if you drop them. Sharpening ceramic knives is not an option for most home chefs as it usually requires know-how and specialty gear so you will either have to learn a new skill or send your knife out to be sharpened.

Chef's knife handles come in many variations and can be constructed from any of a number of different materials. Wood, steel, wide, molded,thin...the choices may look infinite. Make sure you purchase one that is comfortable as you will be working with the knife regularly.

It can be hard to find the proper chef's knife for you given the many kinds and options available. Your chef's knife will very likely be used on a daily basis, so pick out carefully. If you have a cutlery shop, kitchen store or large department store in your region, being able to handle the various makes and styles of chef's knives can make your choice much simpler. As soon as you have the knife picked out, shop for it online. The best values are more often than not offered by Web-based sellers and on auction websites so you can save a little money if you buy over the Internet.

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Callie loves both writing and cooking. She writes articles about cooking and products for the kitchen. Her overview of individual chef's knives and chef knife sets should make excellent reading for anyone in the market for new cutlery.

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