The kitchen knife is one of the staples of kitchen tools and anyone semi-serious about cooking should take the plunge and make an investment into a good quality kitchen knife. However, one of the downfalls of shopping for the best kitchen knives is the wide selection to choose from. Often people will wonder what to look for in a knife, what separates a good knife from a great knife, what company makes the best kitchen knives, and what style of knives should you invest in.
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What Style of Knife Do I Need?
The world of knives is often more complex than it needs to be with a wide variety of knives on the market all claiming to be absolutely required for their individual purposes. However, when making an investment in a good set of kitchen knives, it is often better to purchase one or two high quality knives than a large set of lesser quality of knives. Often you will see large sets of knives that are included in a knife block often at what appears to be an exceptional price. However, these knives are that price for a reason – they are often cheaply constructed and as such are wrought with disadvantages such as the inability to hold an edge.
The primary knife you need is the chef’s knife. Although it may be beneficial at times to have a boning or paring knife, an excellent quality chef’s knife will be able to perform those functions almost just as well. It is best to save your money and purchase a good set of knives one at a time as they are needed than fall into the trap of purchasing a wide variety of knives of lesser quality.
What to Look for In a Kitchen Knife
There are a number of characteristics you should look at while purchasing your first high quality kitchen knife. These include:
The Tang: The best kitchen knives will have a handle with a full tang. Essentially what this means is that the blade was forged as a single piece of steel and extends down through the handle. This results in a superior knife and the greatly decreases the chances of the blade separating from the handle.
Forged Steel: The best kitchen knives will be created out of forged steel. Whatever brand you choose the process of creating a forged steel blade will be essentially the same. A forged steel blade is formed (as mentioned above) from a single piece of steel that is pounded into shape under a high amount of height and pressure. Although this increases the cost of the knife, it results in a superior product that will better hold a cutting edge.
Balance: Any high quality blade whether a sword or a kitchen knife will have an excellent balance. When purchasing the best kitchen knives it is often beneficial to hold the blade in your hand to get a sense of the feel. The best blades will balance if you place two fingers on the blade at the edge of the handle.
Benefits of having the Best Kitchen Knives
A professional, high quality kitchen knife will award you with many benefits over a cheaper knife. These benefits are briefly detailed below:
Quality: a good quality, professional kitchen knife will be of a higher quality than many knives on the market due to the process in which they are created. This results in a knife that will last for many years longer than your run of the mill kitchen knife. The quality also affects other aspects of the blade:
A Sharper Edge: one of the primary complaints you’ve likely had about cheaper knives is their inability to hold a sharp edge. This results in the need of frequently sharpening them. A sharp edge will speed things up quite a bit while you’re in the kitchen and will result in a cleaner cut rather than a rip. A sharp edge is also safer. Dull knives tend to slip and due to the amount of force required to cut something will often result in cuts to the hand or fingers.
Looks: although this may not be important to some people, high quality blades often look great. Displaying a set of high quality blades in a case or block can often add a touch of style to your kitchen. After, after paying a hefty price for quality blades, you’ll likely want to display them.
Top Makers of Quality Kitchen Knives
There are three primary leaders of the best kitchen knives each with a wide variety of blades at various price points. In no particular order, a brief introduction to the top three brands is detailed below:
Wusthof: Wusthof is a German company that has been in business since 1814 and offers high quality German forged steel knives. Theseknives are endorsed by celebrities such as Emeril. Wusthof knives come in seven lines all catering to different tastes and price points.
Henckels: Another primary player in the knife market is J.A. Henckels who have been in the knife business since for many years. Henckels is another German company that offers numerous lines of blades each with a different style and price point.
Calphalon: Aside from the German’s, the Japanese also offer a large number of knife companies providing high quality Japanese-forged steel knives. However, one of the top companies in Japan is Calphalon. Calphalon offers three lines of knives and are often priced lower than the German companies.
If you’re just getting into the wonderful world of cooking or are becoming more serious about it and looking to upgrade your current knives to a higher quality set, it is often worth the investment. The best kitchen knives will ensure you always have a quality, sharp blade that will last a lifetime. When shopping for the best kitchen knives be sure to consider the tang construction, the steel, and the balance of the knives and look for brands such as Wusthof, Henckels, and Calphalon. With these brands you’ll be guaranteed a great product for all your cooking needs.