Knives and knifing skills are essential to any cook, professional or home chef. If you’re just getting started it can be pretty scary to walk into a store and get yourself started with a new set. Besides, knives can be quite sexy…so you’ll want to make sure you have the most beautiful (yet useful set). I’ll give you the low down on knives, how to choose them and how to use them. Here goes:
CONSTRUCTION: How they are made
Any good knife should be made of a single sheet of metal which is either cut, forged (the best method), or stamped and then tempered (the process by which knives are hardened by heating and cooling). Knives are usually made of the following materials:
Carbon steel: It is an alloy (mixture) of carbon and iron. It is a good metal for knives because it can be easily be sharpened. Downside is that they won’t last so long. These will oxidize and corrode quicker than other metals and have a chance of discoloring. If you end up with a set of these, try not to use them with foods like lemons because the acids will speed their breakdown.
Ceramic: These puppies are super sharp and super easy to clean up, but they are definitely an additional set to have. Ceramic knives do not rust and are non-reactive (it is non-porous so it does not react chemically when it touches acidic food). These are fabulous, but they require a lot of care. You should not sharpen these yourself as they need to be sharpened on diamond wheels. These are good for someone who is already comfortable with regular metal knives. They should not be used to open anything, they are not flexible like metal and WILL break.
High Carbon Stainless Steel: An alloy (mixture) of carbon and stainless steel this is a good choice for someone buying their first set of knives. They will not corrode. They will not discolor. They are easily sharpened. Start of with these and buy supplemental knives if you wish.
September 3rd, 2010