Kitchen Knives - Blade Styles and Uses

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Kitchen Knives Blade Styles and Uses

Kitchen Knife Edges

Wavy (Serrated) Edge - especially useful for cutting soft products with a hard crust (bread) or tough skin (sausages and tomatoes). The teeth of a wavy edge knife allow greater pressure to be exerted on the object being cut and are generally thinner than a plain edge blade.

wavy edge paring knife.

Straight Edge - recommended for cutting raw meat, slicing salmon and chopping vegetables. A straight edge can be sharpened using a sharpening steel. A straight edge is useful for making very precise or clean cuts and should be razor sharp to get the best performance.

straight edge paring knife.

Granton Edge - or "kullenschiff" edge, has hollowed out grooves on the sides of the blade. These grooves fill with the fat and juices of the product being sliced, which allows for thin, even cuts without tearing or shredding the meat. The grooves also help shed the material being cut fom the blade helping to reduce sticking.

Granton Edge knife.

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Paring Knives

The paring knife is a vital part of any set of kitchen knives. A paring will usually have a thin 3 to 4 inch blade that usually tapers to a point. Paring knives are used for intricate work and allow for a greater amount of control than a larger knife. In general, all paring knives (with the exception of the bird's beak) can be used for basic utility work in the kitchen.

Paring knives come in various styles, each with a particular function:

Bird's Beak - for peeling any round fruit or vegetable such as an apple or orange. The bird's beak parer is also good for intricate work like fluting or other precise carving.

Bird's Beak paring knife.

Chef's - use as a miniature cook's knife.

Chef's paring knife.

Sheep's Foot - this unique parer has a straight cutting blade. Works well for peeling and paring food.

Sheep's Foot paring knife.

Wavy Edge - use to cut a crust or skin with a soft inside. Perfect for tomatoes.

Wavy Edge paring knife.

Clip Point (Granny) - use to perform tasks like removing eyes from potatoes or pits from olives. Also good for peeling fruit and vegetables.

Clip point paring knife.

Paring/Boning - use to remove meat from bones and other detailed cutting jobs.

Paring/boning knife.

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Boning Knives

The boning knife is an ideal kitchen knife for removing meat from bones and cutting fish or poultry. Boning knives can have different widths of blades as well as varying stiffness. The curve of the blade offers greater control when making precise cuts.

Use a narrow boning knife on ribs and chops to cut easily through bone and cartilage.

Narrow boning knife.

Use a wide boning knife for chicken and pork.

Wide boning knife.

Use a curved boning knife for a better working angle when cutting close to and around the bone.

Curved boning knife.

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Chef's Knives

The Chef's knife is one of the most used kitchen knives and can be used for everything from chopping to slicing fruits and vegetables. Most chef's knives have a broad blade that curves upward towards the tip to allow the knife to rock for fine mincing. The spine of the blade is thick to add weight and strength. Many chef's knives with have a bolster, or metal collar, between the blade and handle. The bolster helps prevent the knife from slipping. Chef's knives come in blade lengths of 6, 8, 10, and 12 inches. Longer blades can be more difficult to control, but make for faster cuts. Shorter blades allow for greater control, and are generally suited to chefs with small hands.

Forschner chef's knife.

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Carving and Slicing Knives

Carving and slicing knives are generally used for slicing meats. These knives usually have long blades that allow for cleaner cuts, and pointed tips. One exception is the roast beef slicer that has a round tip. Slicing and carving knives can be 8 to 14 inches long, and have thinner blades than chef's knives. The thinner blade means chopping with a carver or slicer can damage the knife; a sawing motion is ideal for cutting with one of these knives. A long blade allows large pieces of meat to be cut into clean, even slices. Some slicing and carving knives will also have a granton edge.

Forschner slicer knife.

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Bread Knives

The bread knife is thick-bladed knife used for cutting loaves of bread. Bread knives generally have 8 to 9 inch blades with serrated edges for cutting through thick, hard crust. The serrations on a bread knife are very deep, and are too large to cut fruits and vegetables effectively.

Forschner bread knife.

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Santoku Knives

The Santoku knife is the Japanese version of the chef's knife. The santoku is excellent for chopping vegetables and the wide blade works well for scooping sliced food off a cutting board. The santoku can also be used to slice meat, and has a narrow spine for making thin cuts. The wide blade can be used to scoop diced vegetables or other ingredients into a pot or bowl and is also good for crushing garlic. The curved blade helps the rocking motion used for chopping food, and a santoku can be used on most ingredients such as fruit, vegetables, and even meat. Some santoku knives will also feature a granton edge.

Forschner santoku knife.

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The cleaver knife is wide-bladed, thick-spined knife that can be used to cut through meat or poultry bones. The cleaver uses its weight to cut through tough food with a chopping motion. The thick, heavy blade on a cleaver is not meant for slicing, but its width makes it ideal for pulverizing meat, or crushing seeds or garlic.

Forschner cleaver knife.

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Chinese Cleavers

The Chinese cleaver knife is wide-bladed, narrow-spined knife that can be used to chop through meat and vegetables. It can also be used to remove meat from bones, and like the santoku is good for scooping ingredients into cookware. Chinese cleavers are good for tenderizing meat and crushing garlic, and other tasks that involve slicing. A Chinese cleaver should not be used to split bones since the blade is thinner.

Forschner cleaver knife.

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Utility Knives

Utility knives are mid-sized knives used for miscellaneous cutting. The blade is anywhere from 4 to 7 inches, larger than a paring knife but not as larger as a chef's knife. The utility knife is good for cutting larger vegetables and sandwich meats that are not large enough for a chef's knife. These knives can come in plain and serrated edges, and are sometimes referred to as "sandwich knives".

Kershaw utility knife.

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Tomato Knives

The tomato knife is similar to the bread knife except it is smaller and the serrations are finer. The blade will have a serrated edge for easily cutting through tough skin and a forked tip for picking up slices of food.

Henckels tomato knife.

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