The humble kitchen knife is, arguably the most important tool you own for the kitchen. Sure, you can buy all sorts of clever gadgets and gizmos these days, and some are absolutely amazing (while others are utterly pointless), but when it comes to food prep, a good knife is worth its weight in gold.
Knives will not only make your cooking experience easier and more enjoyable, but they will save you plenty of time, too. Investing in a good set means you will have knives that last you for years to come, so taking the time to choose some that are high quality is well worth your time!
So what do you need to bear in mind? We thought we’d put together this short guide to choosing the perfect knife set for you. Read on to find out more!
First things first, if you don’t know the first thing about different knives and what they are used for, let’s run through the basics. There are three key knives that you need in your kitchen and several more specialist knives that you may wish to invest in if you are more serious about spending time in the kitchen.
A chef’s knife is an all-rounder, and the most reached for in any kitchen. It can perform most of the tasks you’ll need a knife for, from chopping and dicing vegetables and herbs, to preparing meat, and plenty more besides.
Chef’s knives come in different sizes, and you may wish to invest in a few for different tasks, but choosing just one that is comfortable in your hand should be perfectly adequate.
As the name suggests, a bread knife is a knife we all commonly use to slice bread. It is also known as a serrated knife, and can also be used on anything delicate that is easily damaged, such as cakes and fruit with a waxy skin.
A bread knife is also great for carving meat if you don’t own a carving knife, so it’s a bit of an all rounder!
When it comes to small, fiddly tasks, a paring knife is what you’ll want to reach for. This will likely be the smallest blade you own, and they are ideal for tasks where you would typically hold an item in your hands, such as a piece of fruit for coring and peeling. They are also perfect for tasks like deseeding chillies and deveining shellfish.
These are the basic knives you’ll need to get by in the kitchen, but there are more knives out there that you may want to consider once you get serious in the kitchen. This guide from Jamie Oliver will give you a good idea of what knives are out there and which ones you may want to invest in.
Another thing that is hugely important when you are looking for the right knife set for you, is how comfortable a knife is in your hand. Since everybody’s hands are different, this is a very personal thing, so you should try to go into a shop and try different knives in your hands.
We spoke to Kitchen Knives who told us “in terms of what you’re looking for, the knife shouldn’t feel too heavy or too light, should fit comfortably in your hand, and should feel balanced. You can check the balance by seeing whether the knife remains level when you rest it across your fingers.”
Last but not least, it’s important to know what you are looking for in terms of the material your knives are made from. The material essentially dictates the quality of the knives, how long they will stay sharp for, and how long they will last you in the long run.
Avoid stainless steel, as although they are the cheapest option, you really do get what you pay for. They tend to lose their edge very quickly which is rather frustrating and means you will need to sharpen them often.
Damascus steel and ceramic knives cost the most and are what most professional chefs reach for as they keep their edge for a long time as the materials are hard.
For the average home chef, carbon steel is a great option. It is resilient and will need sharpening far less frequently than stainless steel, but it is still affordable.