One thing you cannot overlook when investing in restaurant supplies, are high quality knives. A quality knife is one of the first things you should buy, because it’s what you begin with in the kitchen. Investing in a knife is like investing in any other piece of equipment – the better the quality, the longer lasting and more efficient. How do you know what knife is best for you? Keep reading to find out!
What To Consider
There is a lot more to knives than just sharpness or construction. Here are a few qualities you should think about before you make your purchase.
There are different choices of handle types you can get when you’re shopping for knives. Here is some information about the different types of handles from Dexter.
“Wooden handles provide a good grip and are most attractive, however, they need to be cleaned more thoroughly than plastics or composits and must be occasionally re-treated with mineral oil to retain water repellency. Wooden handled knives should be hand-washed and dried. Our handles are made from rosewood, beech, and walnut.
Plastic handles are more easily cared for than wood and do not absorb micro-organisms. For this reason they are the material of choice in meat processing plants around the world and most kitchens.
Composite handles are made from laminated woods impregnated with plastic resin. Pakkawood and Staminawood are commonly encountered. They are considered by many chefs to be the best choice because they are easy to care for, are as sanitary as plastic, have the appearance, weight and grip of wood, and are more durable than either.”
Choose your blade type depending on how long you want your knives to last. Dexter explains the differences in construction type for knives.
“Carbon steel is an alloy of iron and carbon. Often, it also contains vandadium and manganese. Carbon steel commonly used in cutlery has a 1% carbon content. Carbon steel blades are inexpensive, are very sharp, and hold an edge very well. Carbon steel is generally easier to resharpen than most stainless steels, however, it is vulnerable to staining. Some professional cooks employ carbon steel blades because of their reasonable cost, cutting power, and edge-holding ability, however, others find these advantages are outweighed in the kitchen by extra maintenance. Over time, carbon steel blades acquire a dark patina of oxidation which acts to block the staining process. Some people find the patina an alluring sign of age while others find it unattractive.
Stainless steel is an alloy of iron, chromium, nickel, and molybdenum with a small amount of carbon. Stainless steel blades are highly resistant to corrosion.
High Carbon Stainless Steel
High Carbon Stainless Steel refers to high-grade stainless steel alloys with certain amount of carbon. High carbon stainless steel is intended to combine the best attributes of carbon steel and ordinary stainless steel. High carbon stainless steel does not discolor or stain and it maintains an extremely sharp edge. High carbon stainless steels are higher quality alloys often including molybdenum, vanadiaum, cobalt and other components intended to boost strength, edge-holding, and cutting abilities.
Forged blades are made in an intricate and multi-step process by skilled craftsmen. A chunk of solid steel is heated to a high temperature and pounded while it is hot, to form a blade. The blade is then heated, quenched, and tempered to attain the desired hardness. After heat treating, the blade is polished and sharpened. Truly forged blades are often considerably more expensive than blanked blades due to the increased number of manufacturing steps involved. . A forged blade will serve the same function as a blanked blade. Forged vs. blanked is a matter of preference.
Blanked blades are cut to shape directly from sheet or coil stock. They are considerably less expensive than their forged counterpart. They are heat treated for strength, ground, polished and sharpened. Blanked blades can often be identified by the absence of a bolster. A blanked blade will serve the same function as a forged blade. Forged vs. blanked is a matter of preference.”
Type Of Knives
The next step in determining what type of knife is best for you is to determine what type of food you’ll be cutting up and what type of job you’ll be doing.
A paring knife is the ideal tool for peeling, trimming, slicing and garnishing fruits and vegetables. The sharp blade allows the user to feel more secure in cutting tasks. Every chef needs a paring knife that will fit comfortably in their hand and allow them to peel, trim, slice fruits and veggies for a lengthy amount of time.
Utility knives with scalloped edges are especially useful with fruits and vegetables or anything with a rind or skin. The curved edge of a utility knife slices through soft interiors without damaging delicate food. Utility knives allow for quick preparation so you can get started cooking in no time!
Slicing knives can be used for different tasks around the kitchen. They come in 10-14” lengths and feature different edges. The type of food you will be slicing determines the type of edge you should select. The straight edge and scalloped edge both cut in various ways. Straight edges are designed to cut without tearing or shredding. Scalloped edges are great for slicing through bread, with sharp points that can break through a bread’s crust. Offset handles allow the user to cut through bread or meat without having their working hand touch the product.
Having a good boning knife is crucial for breaking down meat at your foodservice operation. Boning knives have a narrow, flexible blade that makes fileting fish a snap! Boning knives are very delicate, yet the blade is extremely sharp, so the knife does the work for you. Flexible blades are perfect for fileting fish, while a wide and stiff blade is better for cutting and trimming raw or thinner cuts of meat. Maneuvering around bones and cutting through meat is easy with a good boning knife.
One of the most popular and universal knives is a chef’s knife. This knife is designed for people who live in the kitchen, and where performance, comfort and durability are crucial. Chef’s knives are made tough, because of all it’s uses in the kitchen. They are usually available in 6-12”L with a choil that protects your knuckles from injury. The curved blade allows for a smooth, rocking motion while cutting. Finding a good grip on a chef’s knife is important because you don’t want to cause fatigue to your hand or wrist.
Proper Care and Cleaning of Knives
Now that you’ve finally selected what type of knife will fit you and your operation’s needs best, don’t forget to properly care for it! Remember these four rules for cleaning your knives the right way from Dexter.
- “Cutlery should be hand washed in mild to medium strength detergent and towel-dried.
- Knives should not be placed in automatic dishwashers. The blade edges will be dulled from rubbing against each other, and caustic detergents will cause staining and pitting of the blade. For wood-handled products, heat and detergents cause the natural oils and pigments to be drawn out of the wood, resulting in the handle fading and splitting.
- Cutlery should not be soaked for long periods or submerged for cleaning. If a user insists on soaking cutlery in soap, bleach, or chlorine, soaking should be kept to a minimum, the products rinsed thoroughly and dried immediately.
- Knives of carbon steel should be washed and dried immediately after use to prevent rusting.”
Choosing the right knife makes all the difference in the kitchen, whether it be a selecting a comfortable grip to prepare food for a little longer or choosing the right blade to easily slice your way through today’s specials. If you’re looking for more information about choosing the right type of knife for you, call one of our Product Consultants at 800-215-9293.