Factors to Consider When Buying a Kitchen Knife
Figuring out which types of knives to add to your kitchen is one of the most important parts of the process, but in finding the right knives in each category there are a number of other factors it’s important to consider.
If you do a lot of cooking and know the knives you buy will get a lot of use, then it’s probably worth spending some money to get the knife that’s best for you – at least for some types of knives. When it comes to a good chef’s knife or Santoku knife, finding one that stays sharp, is well constructed, and lasts will be worth the cost.
For many of the other knife types, it’s probably not as important to spend a lot of money, as they won’t get used as frequently, and often don’t cost as much upfront to begin with. But in some cases, spending a little more to upgrade to a better brand will mean the knife lasts longer or is more comfortable to use.
While a good chef knife can easily cost over $200, for those who want a decent knife but aren’t prepared to spend that much, do a little bit of research. You should be able to find a knife that gets the job done and has plenty of fans for less than $100.
There are two main ways that knives are made: forged and stamped.
- Forged Knives — These are created when extreme heat is applied to a piece of steel, which is then molded into the desired shape. These are generally considered to be of especially high-quality and cost more than stamped knives. The forging process creates a strong blade that’s less prone to bending over time.
- Stamped Knives — These are made with a machine, punched out of a piece of steel. The edge is sharpened after the blade is formed and the knife is the same thickness throughout. While these aren’t generally considered as high-quality as forged knives, there are plenty of stamped knives that perform well.
If you go with a stamped knife, you should expect to need to sharpen them more often and might need to replace them sooner.
Note: Except most stamped knives today have at least decent heat treatment and go through stock removal method and can have just as awesome geometry as a forged knife.
* Serrated Knives - Serrated knives, with their scalloped, toothlike edge, are ideal for cutting through foods with a hard exterior and softer interior, such as a loaf of crusty bread. The principle behind a serrated knife is similar to that of a saw: The teeth of the blade catch and then rip as the knife smoothly slides through the food. It cuts cleanly through the resistant skin and juicy flesh of a ripe tomato without crushing it. Crusty bread is easier and neater to cut using a serrated knife because the crust will splinter less.Three
More Tasks for a Serrated Knife:
Slice whole citrus fruits: Because citrus skin is tough and slick, the serrated blade is best for this task.
Cut baked phyllo dough: The blade gently saws through the delicate pastry so it crumbles less.
Slice a layer cake: A serrated knife is thinner and more delicate than a chef's knife and cuts cleanly through tender, moist cakes.
Note: Serrated knives are harder, if not impossible, to sharpen unless you send it to a pro who has the tools to do it.
A dull knife won’t do you any good. The best kitchen knives come sharp and stay sharp for long periods of time before you need to sharpen them. One of the main indicators of a knife’s quality is, therefore, how sharp it is and how often it needs a tune up.
A knife’s sharpness doesn’t just determine how well it works, it also influences how safe it is to use. While you might think the sharper a knife is, the bigger the risk, the opposite is actually true.
Yes, you can do some real damage if you cut yourself with a super-sharp knife (don’t go taking unnecessary chances), but you’re more likely to cut yourself if you’re struggling to cut something else with a dull blade – that’s when chefs most risk losing control of the knife.
A big part of the equation of finding the right knife for you, especially when it comes to a chef’s or Santoku knife, is how comfortable you find it to use. And weight is a big part of that.
There’s not a general “correct” weight to look for when it comes to kitchen knives, this is really a factor that’s all about personal preference, and newbie home chefs may have to do a little bit of experimenting to see what works for them.
Some people will find a lightweight knife easier to use, others will appreciate the heft of a heavier one and feel like they have more control over it. This is a personal preference.
If you don’t have much experience with different chef’s knives yet, see if you have some friends willing to let you try out theirs to get a feel for how they work. If you’re offering to cook for them in exchange, they’ll likely be pleased to comply.
Balance goes hand in hand with weight in determining how comfortable you’ll find using the knife. If the weight falls too much to one side or the other, then chopping will be more work for you.
This is another category where it’s hard to judge a knife without the chance to pick it up and hold it. If you don’t have that option with a knife you’re considering, once again, take some time to check the reviews and see what other people report.
6- Handle Comfort
The final factor that makes a big difference in how comfortable holding and using a particular knife will feel to you is handle comfort. Much of this largely depends on the material used – wood, plastic, metal, and composites are the most common option – and the shape and weight of it.
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that this is another subjective category. What’s comfortable for you will depend on things like your hands’ size, strength, and shape as well as just your general preference.
7- Ease of Use
Many of the categories above play a big role in ease of use. A sharp knife will make chopping things easier, and a comfortable feel in the hand will make food prep more pleasant and efficient for you.
Additionally, making sure you use the right knife for the right job is important to not making the work harder for yourself. The whole variety of knife styles exists specifically to ensure that you can approach the variety of chopping tasks you may need to tackle more easily.
8- Maintenance, Rusting & Corrosion
One additional factor to consider in terms of ease of use is maintenance. Some knives are more prone to rusting or corrosion than others, so if you’re not someone who tends to be on top of cleaning and drying things by hand, then you may want to spend a little less or seek out a knife that’s less sensitive to corrosion.
Additionally, many types of knives will require occasional sharpening. If that’s the kind of chore you avoid, then look for a knife known for staying sharp longer.
Most kitchen knives you encounter will be made of stainless steel, which is strong, durable, and easy to sharpen.
Some higher-end knives instead use carbon steel, which is stronger and sturdier, but less durable. With these, you’re more likely to deal with rust and stains, especially if you’re not very on top of cleaning and drying them right away after each use.
Another option is high-carbon stainless steel, which falls somewhere between the other two: it’s a bit stronger than stainless steel but more durable than carbon steel.
While not as common as any of the steel options, some brands offer ceramic knives. These are very sharp while being more lightweight than metal. They stay sharp for a long time, but once they do start to dull, they’re harder to sharpen – you’ll have to send them to a professional rather than take care of it at home.
Like all Vie Belles products, our new chef's knives have full of features and meticulously engineered. We present to you the best chef knives that can upgrade your whole kitchen with élan. We believe that creativity in cooking comes from a combination of premium quality materials, artisanal craftsmanship, and aesthetic beauty.
A good Chef’s Knife is the single most important tool in any kitchen.
We created these knives to be in the hands of culinary professionals, novice chefs, at-home cooks or even beginners! We wanted to build a tool that is versatile and will accomplish almost all cutting tasks in the kitchen.
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Great article…that, excellent summary…about what to look for when getting a knife.