Cutting Edge Blog
Best Japanese kitchen knives to buy this season 0
Japanese kitchen knives are crafted to varying degrees in accordance with the traditional blacksmithing processes of Japan. These knives come with four common types of characteristics namely handles, blade grind, steel and construction. Sakai, located in Osaka, is the originating point of most of the top-quality Japanese cutlery. In Sakai, the manufacture of steel knives began in the 16th century, when the Portuguese introduced tobacco to Japan and to craft knives for chopping tobacco. During the ‘Tokugawa shogunate’, the knives industry of Sakai experienced a substantial boost, which accorded a unique seal of approval and increased its repute for quality. Another popular center for knifesmiths is the Miki city. It’s well renowned throughout the country for its knife making traditions. The knives and tools produced in Miki help recall the honor of Japanese steelmaking. Most of the Miki producers are small businesses run by families where craftsmanship is given more importance compared to volume and they typically manufacture fewer numbers of knives a day. Seki, Gifu is considered as the abode of modern Japanese cutlery. Here, state-of-the-art technology and manufacturing has upgraded ancient forging dexterities to manufacture world-class ranges of laminated and stainless steel kitchen knives that have received fame across the world. Some other prominent knife manufacturing centers of Japan are:
Types of steels used to make Japanese knives
Stainless steel has been defined as a steel alloy that has 10.5% minimum Chromium content by mass. One major benefit of stainless steel is high corrosion resistance that makes it fairly easy to maintain compared to the Carbon steel variety, which may rust quite easily, if not appropriately cared for. Stainless steel knives are especially useful for people who deal with wet or moist foods, acidic foods like fruits, or salty foods. Another benefit of these types of knives is that as long as any other alloying element isn’t blended in significant volume, Chromium develops bonds with some amount of carbon which leads to production of Chromium Chloride – a very robust ceramic compound that enhances the edge retention characteristics of knives. Some key types of stainless steels used in the production of Japanese knives include:
- Stainless steel: Comes with a carbon content of below 0.5% and poor edge retention capacity. This is very difficult to sharpen and re-sharpening is required almost after every use.
- High carbon stainless steel: Contains less than 0.8% of carbon content with good retention quality. Sharpening is moderately easy and re-sharpening is needed every 4 to 6 weeks.
- Stainless steel with Molybdenum Vanadium: Comes with less than 0.5% of carbon content and adequate edge retention capacity. Sharpening is an uphill task for this type and re-sharpening is required almost every week.
This is an alloy of carbon and iron, in which the fundamental alloying component is carbon. These can rust easily compared to their stainless steel peers. Carbon steels react with different acidic foods and onions and begin to develop a blue-gray, dull color. However, this patina is forcibly developed by some people by using different kinds of methods including controlled exposure and use of acidic paste, among others. Managing carbon steel includes wiping it with wet cloth each time when switching ingredients and rinsing it very well in warm water once you’re done with your cutting. The knives can also be scoured with detergent and Scotch-Brite instead of the earlier process, which is perhaps a good idea when working with meat of any type. Here’s a list of the most commonly used carbon steels in Japanese knives trade:
- High carbon steel (AUS 8, AUS 10 and MBS 26): Contains more than 0.8% of carbon content and provides good edge retention quality. Sharpening is quite easy and may need to be re-sharpened every 2 to 3 months.
- High carbon steel (Yasuki Steel, Aogami No 1 and No 2 Blue VG10): Comes with more than 1% carbon content and has very good edge retention quality. Sharpening is absolutely easy and re-sharpening is required every 2 to 3 months.
Powdered steels are the newest and most advanced kind of steels in the realm of knife steel technology. Knife makers throughout the world always keep searching for the next superior level metal that can be put into use. Powder steel is perhaps the best answer to this search because of its edge retention and corrosion resistance ability. It’s an absolutely fine material that empowers knife makers to produce knives with beautiful, sharp edge. This isn’t the type of steel produced by old knifesmiths who simply sprinkle metal powders around. Instead, this is a specialist chemistry performed under extremely stringent conditions in the chemistry lab to manufacture the absolutely flawless amalgamation of steel possible in present technologies and times. This is a precision component and must be treated with intense care. Knives made with powdered steels may chip over time but that’s a small thing considering your investment to benefit from its unique performance. The following powder steels are being used in the kitchen knives’ industry:
- Stainless powder steel (SG2 / SGPS): Its good distribution of components and fine structure empowers it to add more alloy components compared to ordinary stainless steel. That enhances its cutting and hardness characteristics.
- Stainless powder steel (D2 / SKD11): More alloy elements can be added to this kind of steel compared to regular stainless steel. Though these are slightly firmer than SG2 / SGPS steel, they provide less rust resistance because of their lower chrome content.
- Stainless powder steel (MC66 / ZDP-189): Perhaps it’s the hardest stainless powder steel available in the market. It comes with the highest content of different alloy elements amongst all powder steel kinds.
Japanese knives have specialized applications. Let’s take a look at the common varieties:
Double bevel knives
- Gyuto: Somewhat similar to the Western chef’s knife, it has a thinner blade with a sharper edge, which makes it versatile and helps give precise cuts. You can mince, slice and chop vegetables, meat, fish and fruits with it.
- Santoku: You can call this multipurpose knife a cross between a Gyuto and Nakiri, which can be used to cut fish, meat, fish, fruits and vegetables.
- Sujihiki: This slicing knife has a sharper and thinner edge than its Western counterparts. Thanks to its long blade, you can use it for slicing patés and terrines, fine carving of cooked meats, or even for slicing raw fish (by replacing yanagi which is normally used).
- Nakiri: With a straight, thin blade and a large spine tapering to a blunt, square tip, it looks like a cleaver and is used for recurring chopping of vegetables.
- Bread knife: With its serrated edge, you can cut through bread cleanly.
- Paring: Also called a petty knife, this small sized multipurpose knife is used to cut, peel and de-seed fruits and vegetables. It’s an essential apparatus for bartenders who have to provide fresh fruit garnishes with their beverages.
Single bevel knives
- Yanagi-ba/Yanagi: With a long, sharp and thin blade, this knife is designed to slice raw fish as well as seafood cleanly using a slight force. Since this knife gives clean cuts with no rough surfaces or bruises, it’s a vital apparatus for Japanese sushi chefs. Apart from raw fish, you can use this knife to slice vegetables in thin pieces, carve roast beef, or to cut portions of patés and terrines.
- Takohiki/Takobiki: With similarities to the yanagi, this too is a fish slicing knife but it comes with a squared head that helps in scooping up sashimi slices neatly. With its long, sharp blade, you can make clean slices of raw seafood and fish with a solitary pull and forget about cuts that cause rough or bruised surfaces.
- Deba: With a thick durable blade that has weight and sharpness ideal for filleting and gutting fish. You can even cut through fish ribs, fish heads and poultry with this knife. Deba is available in various styles. Funayuki and Mioroshi Deba can act both as a yanagi and deba. With Yo-Deba (where the words mean “Western deba” in the literal sense) that comes with a double-bevel edge for heavy duty cutting, you can cut through crab shells and lobster.
- Usuba: With an exceptionally thin and sharp edge, it is ideal for cutting paper thin slices of vegetables. It’s also used for dicing as well as making brunoise and julienne cuts.
- Kiritsuke: This multipurpose knife is a cross between a usuba and yanagi that’s ideal for cutting fish, fruits, meat and vegetables.
- Honesuki: Traditionally, this single bevel knife is used for cutting poultry, but you can also use it to break down other types of meats.
The Miyabi knives are designed to give exceptional cutting performance. Since the blade of each Miyabi knife is hand-honed in accordance with traditional Japanese sharpening techniques, their sharpness is similar to a scalpel. Equipped with ergonomically designed handles, these knives can glide through food smoothly. Three types of steel are used to forge Miyabi blades:
- Microcarbide powder steel with hardness of 63 on the Rockwell scale (which used for knives of the Artisan series meant for experienced Japanese knife users)
- Cobalt molybdenum vanadium steel with hardness of 60 on the Rockwell scale (which used for knives of the Miyabi Kaizen, Miyabi Fusion and Miyabi Pro series meant for users who have used Japanese knives before and have experience in handling them)
- Special formula steel (German composition having chromium and carbon for corrosion resistance and hardness respectively) and with hardness of 57 on the Rockwell scale (which used for knives of the Miyabi Red series meant for users with no, little or some experience of handling Japanese knifves)
Blending expert craftsmanship with impressive looks, the Miyabi knives are ideal for getting thin slices, fine edges and precision cuts. From a novice home cook and a slightly experienced chef to a pro chef, the different series of Miyabi knives have something or the other to suit every need and experience level.
Wusthof Grand prix II
Grand Prix II knives of Wusthof use Precision Edge Technology for sharper blades with better edge retention than other similar knives available in the market. The blades are laser-measured and computerized calculations are used for determining the exact angle required for sharpening the blades. A precision robot sharpens the blade accordingly on a whetstone, after which a special disc is sued to polish the blade. The Santoku knife with a hollow edge of the Grand Prix II series combines conventional Japanese style with German craftsmanship to ensure you get exceptional performance for precision tasks such as making paper thin slices and mincing. Since the blade crafted using high-carbon steel (and thus corrosion- and stain-resistant) comes with shallow depressions shaped like oval, you won’t have to worry about foods sticking to your blade or encountering friction while making cuts. With its tang running deep into the pebbled polypropylene handle, this Santoku knife offers a secure grip with outstanding control and durability.
Messermeister San Moritz Elite
The 7-inch Santoku knife is completely molded from a lone piece of premium German steel alloy. It comes with a thin taper that gives optimum accuracy when slicing fish, vegetables and meat together with cutting and separating slices of cheese. With its bolsterless heel, this knife lets you use the full blade – from tip to heel, which in turn simplifies your cutting, honing and sharpening duties. With its handle and blade being compatible in weight and width, this knife is a well-balanced, versatile tool similar to a traditional chef’s knife. The blade of this knife reads 57 to 58 on the Rockwell scale. The Elité edge, which is hand polished on a cloth wheel, gives the Santoku exemplary sharpness. With features like resistance to stain and corrosion, durability, toughness, edge retention, and the ability to get re-sharpened to bring back a razor-sharp edge, this Messermeister San Moritz Elite can become a statement tool in your kitchen. To make sure you continue using this knife for long, you should avoid using cleaners with citrus extracts or bleach for cleaning it. Don’t put it in the dishwasher either. Simply use a mild detergent and warm water to hand-wash it and then dry immediately.
Japanese knives are perhaps the most diverse in terms of their aesthetics, materials and designs compared to any other knives in the world. From the multipurpose designs such as santokus and gyutos that can be adapted to handle various tasks, to highly specialized designs that you find in the debas or yanagi-bas, everyone will have something or the other to use – no matter what experience or skills they have in handling Japanese kitchen knives. When it comes to production techniques, they vary from many Western knives that are mass produced. These rustic Japanese knives are handcrafted to blend functionality with excellent aesthetics. Usually, Japanese knives are made of extremely high quality steels that are often heat treated to achieve hardness levels higher than that of their western varieties. As a result, you will find Japanese knives having precision edges at acute bevel angles, unlike their western peers, which helps them offer superior performance. Yet, these knives are often more delicate, which makes it important to take proper care of them. So, if you are a cutlery enthusiast, assess your skills and experience as well as your requirements to shop for the most appropriate Japanese kitchen knives this season. Whether you are a home-based chef or a professional user, the wide variety of Japanese knives are sure to make your kitchen work more efficient and seamless.
What Makes German Knives Different From Other Knives? 0
Most of the world’s top class pocket, hunting and different kinds of speciality knives are manufactured by German companies. Though many German knife manufacturers have subcontracted some of the models to other countries, it’s quite difficult to exactly pin down the reasons for which top quality German knives have been fascinating the world since their inception. One thing that every German knife user will probably agree on is the precise, careful craftsmanship of the top German knife manufacturers, resulting in knives which are distinctive and perhaps almost completely flawless. For instance, consider a fixed blade German knife with glimmering stag or perfect wood handle scales seamlessly fitted, without any gap between the tang and scales, or a brass or nickel silver finger guard perfectly shaped and greatly polished with no filing, sanding or grinding marks visible, coupled with a pristine Solingen steel blade for a precise shave that has no accidental score visible anywhere on it. And this is not a deceiving extension of the truth. It’s actually what you’ll experience when you pick up a top quality German knife in your hands. An elite quality German knife is actually a work of art, manufactured by adept professionals who feel extremely proud of the work they perform and the knives they develop. The famous Solingen city in Germany boasts of the longest history associated with the production of top class knives and cutlery. Choosing knives is perhaps one of the most crucial decisions that an avid chef needs to make. Knives are among the most utilised tools in a kitchen and thus a wrong decision can easily make the life of the buyer quite miserable. Because when it comes to knives, price isn’t always synonymous with quality. Here, we’ve outlined a detailed list of expert tips that would help you to get educated about what sets German knives apart from their counterparts and why they’re recommended by renowned chefs across the world.
Stainless steel is a widely preferred material used for knives’ blades due to its corrosion resistance ability and easy maintenance. However, it’s not impermeable to rust or corrosion. A steel must have a minimum 13% of chromium content to be considered as stainless steel. The key principle of stainless steel remains in the fact that the oxide (chromium, nickel and other metal oxides) has to be stable in an oxidizing chemical environment and in a reducing (lack of oxygen) environment, one metal has to be stable, at the least. Here’re the key stainless steels used to manufacture the blades of German knives.
- CPM SxxV series: The SxxV series stainless steels are produced by using CPM process. The categories of this series are CPM S30V, CPM S35VN, CPM S60V, CPM S90V, CPM S110V and CPM S125V.
- DSR series: This series is used for producing scissors and kitchen knives. The categories include DSR1K6, DSR7F, DSR1K7, DSR1K8, DSR1K9, DSR10UA and DSR1K11.
Carbon steel is another popular choice for knives that are subject to a rough use. This steel is usually much more durable, much tougher and easier to sharpen compared to stainless steel. However, they lack the chromium content available in their stainless steel counterparts, making them prone to corrosion. Though carbon steels contain less amount of carbon than general stainless steels, the alloy element remains much higher. They’re more similar to other types of high alloy and stainless steels and consist of carbide in a very small quantity in the iron. Due to more hardness of the bulk material, carbon steels are capable of holding more acute and sharper edge without bending over when coming in contact with tough materials. However, carbon steels are more susceptible to abrasion. Here’re the major types of carbon steels used in German knives.
- 10xx series: This series is very durable and most sought after choice for manufacturing German knives. The categories of the series include 1095, 1084, 1070, 1060 and 1055.
- Kigami/Yellow series: This series is used in mid/low class kitchen knives and other high-end tools.
CPM or Crucible Particle Metallurgy steels are specialty steels manufactured by Crucible Industries – an American company that manufactures stainless and tools steels for cutlery, machine tools, automotive and aerospace industries. The company has been producing high-end steels since its inception in 1900 when 13 crucible steel companies merged to form a single company.
Traditional CPM steel making process starts with smelting ore into steel with the help of electric arc furnaces. Then it gets refined by eliminating some amount of carbon and sulphur. Further refining process may include use of argon oxygen decarburization which is an implementation of the powder metallurgy. The conventional process includes distribution and pouring of steel into ingot molds. Then the steel solidifies slowly, allowing the components to isolate into non-uniform structures at microscopic level.
The CPM process pushes molten steel via a tiny nozzle. Then high-pressure gas is applied to atomize the liquid into a spray that quickly cools down the steel, making it a uniform powder. Then the powder goes into high-pressure containers and is heated using forged temperatures to squeeze the powder into ingots – this process is called HIP or hot isostatic pressing, which leads to the production of uniform metal.
Hot or cold rolling processes is used in both methods to toughen the steel and granulate it into the final products.
An alloy is an amalgamation of metals or a merger of metal and another element. It may be a single solution of metal elements or an amalgamation of two or more metallic solutions. Alloys are utilized in a diverse range of applications. In some cases, a merger of metals may lower the overall price of a material while preserving the key properties. In other cases, the merger of metals transmits synergistic characteristics to the constituent elements such as mechanical strength or corrosion resistance. Here’s a list of widely used alloying elements.
- Meteoric iron: Meteoric iron was the first and a naturally developing alloy of iron and nickel. It was used to manufacture objects such as weapons, tools and nails.
- Bronze and brass: This is another alloy of the ancient times that goes back to around 2500 BC. Ancient civilization took the mixture of copper and zinc to develop brass because of its various characteristics like toughness, melting point, among others.
- Amalgams: Amalgams, which is an alloy in liquid or soft paste form, were produced by dissolving metals like gold, silver, tin etc with the help of mercury.
- Precious-metal alloys: In ancient times, precious-metal alloys were produced solely for aesthetic purposes. One instance could be alloying gold with copper to manufacture red-gold.
- Pewter: This term entails a variety of alloys that primarily consist of tin. The resulting metals were usually antimony, lead, copper or bismuth.
- Steel and pig iron: Mangalloy or manganese steel, which was one of the first alloy steels, were produced by alloying manganese and steel to provide the resulting element with extreme toughness. Pig iron is an alloy of carbon and iron.
- Precipitation-hardening alloys: These are heat-treatable alloys that become softened when cooled quickly and harden over time. Some instances of these alloys include aluminum, copper and titanium.
When you’re looking for a new knife, most likely you’ll come across different kinds of knives including the German ones. However, as German knives are one of the most prevalent ones, it’s wise to clearly understand the key features of them. Whether you’re a professional or beginner chef, a German knife is perhaps your best bet in the kitchen. In addition, if you’re purchasing your knife from a renowned manufacturer, chances of going wrong is quite less. However, remember that a knife that’s best-suited for somebody else may not be easier for you to handle. A German knife may seem to have a shape similar to other knives but it caters to different purposes in the kitchen because of its characteristics as described below.
- German knives usually come with a full length tang and a bolster.
- The steel used in German knives usually has ratings between 56 and 58 on the Rockwell hardness scale.
- The blade grind of a German knife is symmetrical.
- The thick piece of steel or the bolster of the knife is located right before its handle.
- A German knife comes with an angle of 20 to 22 degrees.
- Though weight differs from blade to blade, a German knife tends to be heavyweight. For instance, a Wusthof 8 inch chef’s knife weighs around 9.6 ounces.
- Thicker, heavier German knives empower you to perform robust chores more conveniently.
- Don’t require regular maintenance such as weekly cleaning or annual sharpening.
- Dishwater safe.
German knife producers have been manufacturing premium knives since the 19th century and these unique features are perhaps the key reasons why chefs across the world prefer German knives.
Available in sizes varying from 6" to 10", these bread knives with slightly curved or straight blades with a serrated edge offer great balance and strength to cut through any kind of bread. While the smaller knives are ideal for slicing bagels (and even tomatoes), the longer ones with 10” blades can cut through boule, ciabatta, or any other category of artisan bread. Many consider the 9” blade to be one for all-around use, which can be used to cut a small tomato or a large loaf of bread with equal ease. Made of the German 1.4116 stainless carbon alloy, the blades of these knives are resistant to corrosion and stains, exhibit durability, retain their edge much longer (30% in case of Wusthof knives) than the other knives, and are easy to re-sharpen to get a razor-like edge. With excellent fit and finish, these knives are good for decades of service.
With a fine edged blade measuring 4.5” made of the finest German steel alloy, these carving knives can cut through steaks with minimal effort. Being expertly crafted to have a fine edge slicing blade that comes with an upward curved tip, these knives are at home on any table. Offering the user a great feel, fit and balance, these knives can just glide through just about anything they encounter. With sharp and durable blades, these elegant looking knives can last you almost a lifetime despite serious abuse. Forget getting your steak ripped and torn in a messy manner because with German steak knives, you can now get clean, efficient cuts.
Available in sizes varying from 3.5" (boning paring knife) and 4" (petite chef’s knife) to 7" stealth chef’s knife, 8" carving knives and 10" scalloped baker’s bread knives, these knives are forged from a solitary billet of premium German stainless steel alloy that can stand the test of time. Made available with the most robust, industrial strength, ergonomic handle, these knives can be used for various tasks – from cleaning small sized fish or deboning poultry, to coring or making precise cuts on vegetables and fruits. Thanks to the bolsterless heel, you can use the whole blade from heel to tip, which simplifies your honing, cutting and sharpening tasks.
From the petite chef’s knives with 4" blades to the stealth chef’s knives with blades of varying sizes from 8" to 10", these knives have the finest German stainless carbon alloy blades that are stain- and corrosion-resistant. Since the blades are more deeply and continuously curved along the entire cutting edge, you can perform various tasks with them – from mincing herbs to chopping onions and working through chicken ribs and fish pin bones. Apart from being tough and durable, these knives can hold their edge retention, and are easy to re-sharpen back to their earlier razor-sharp edge.
Usually 3" to 6" in length, these knives have a narrow blade and sharp point, which make them ideal for removing the bones of fish, meat and poultry. Unlike other “thick” kitchen knives, the narrow blade of these German boning knives make precision boning easy, especially where you need to make deep holes or cuts. Being made of the finest German stainless steel alloy, these knives can resist stains and corrosion. Coming fitted with ergonomic handles, these knives give you a flexible and great fit that’s required for boning tasks.
Available in sizes varying from 6" to 8", these wide bladed knives have a razor-sharp blade that’s created to tackle both precision and heavy-duty cutting. Precision forged from a solitary piece of robust high-carbon steel, these knives resist corrosion and stains. With superior edge retention and sharper blades than many other similar products available in the market, these knives work equally well for mincing and chopping tough ingredients – be it breaking down larger portions of meat, or cutting through the bones. Most of these German cleavers have blades triple riveted to the handle, thus offering exceptional durability. With ergonomic handles contoured for a comfortable grip, you can handle heavier cleaving and lighter cutting with equal ease.
Crafted from a solitary blank of high carbon stainless steel, the two pronged forks are available in 6" and 7" that are tempered to 57-58⁰ Rockwell. These knives help in slicing large roasts efficiently while guiding the carving knife away from your hands. While serving or slicing, you can even use the meat forks to hold the piece of meat in place. These knives have their full tang riveted to an extremely durable and comfortable polyoxymethylene (POM) handle for precise control. With blades that are durable, stain- and corrosion-resistant, hold their edge retention, and can be easily re-sharpened to a razor-like edge, these German forks that can also resist discoloration and fading can be precious to have in your kitchen.
Available in sizes varying from 2.5" to 4", these knives have a fine edge blade that tapers to a point. Crafted from a solitary billet of premium German stainless steel alloy and coming fitted with the most robust industrial strength, ergonomic handle, these German pairing knives are designed to be all-purpose knives – somewhat similar to a chef's knife, the only difference being their smaller size. With a compact blade fitted atop a molded handle, you can use such knives for peeling, trimming and slicing of a variety of produce. The sharp, corrosion- and stain-resistant blades of these knives are heat treated and cooled to get a Rockwell of 57-58.
Available in sizes of 4.5", 5" and 6", these are your everyday go-to knife with a scalloped edge and compact blade size. From mincing onions, shallots and herbs to cutting vegetables and small meats, carving slice hams, roasted chickens, cheeses, soft skinned vegetables and fruits, you can handle a wide variety of tasks with them. You may even use them for cutting small cakes, bagels and pastries. Forged from a solitary blank of high carbon stainless steel, the robust corrosion- and stain-resistant blade of these knives are riveted on the handle to give you a great fit and precise control.
Having stood the test of time, these fine German knives are a treasure to have in every kitchen. With 57-58 Rockwell rating in hardness, the blades of these knives forged from a single billet of premium German stainless steel alloy offer durability, unmatched sharpness with better edge retention than other varieties as well as resistance to stains and corrosion, among others. Since you can easily re-sharpen them back to their lost glory, you can continue using these knives and they will last you a lifetime. With ergonomic handles and blades that are riveted to the handles to offer a great feel and fit, your chopping, dicing, boning and other kitchen tasks are bound to become easier and more efficient with these German knives. Handcrafted in Germany’s Solingen - the historic cutlery capital, these knives come equipped with a lifetime warranty against manufacturing and material defects, making it yet another reason to invest in them as they offer complete value for money.
How to Choose the Perfect Cutting Board 0
Most cooks spend a considerable amount of time and money when buying kitchen knives, but only a handful think about the importance of a perfect cutting board. In a kitchen, knives and cutting boards are as important as salt and pepper. This becomes even more important if you want to cut fresh vegetables by yourself instead of buying pre-cut ones that usually cost more. Thus, a cook needs to have a solid understanding of cutting boards and how they can affect their knives and the overall cooking process in turn.
Choosing the right material
At first, you need to decide on the material that is perfect for your kitchen. Cutting boards are extremely useful when it comes to preparing ingredients to cook a meal, preparing a snack or even when you simply need a place to keep a hot pan to save the kitchen counter from getting damaged. Most of the cooks have multiple cutting boards because the more of these you have, the more prepared you are for multiple activities in the kitchen. Some cooks prefer wooden boards because of their functionality and aesthetics, while some others prefer to have boards made of bamboo, plastic or glass. Let’s have a look at the 4 key types of cutting boards that are:
Wooden cutting boards have been in use for years, thus making them gradually become the most sought after choice among cooks. You can find lots of people who always stick to wooden boards no matter how many new-fashioned boards become available in the market. Wooden cutting boards not only look the prettiest but if handled properly, can even resist almost every kind of abuse. These boards are not as easy to clean as the others but traditional cooks don’t mind hand cleaning as well as sanitizing. Additionally, as wood comprises of natural substances that destroy germs, if any bacterial contaminant gets trapped underneath the surface during the cleaning process, it will die quickly. It’s important to note that all wooden boards aren’t equal in nature. Ideally, you should look for a cutting board made from hardwoods such as maple, teak, acacia etc. because they’re least porous and thus are less likely to hold bacteria and water. Wooden boards can get grooves from the usage of knives on them, which can become a breeding ground for bacteria, over time. That’s why you should replace wooden boards with knife grooves to avert the chances of cross contamination between foods.
Bamboo cutting boards are quite similar to wooden boards and they have natural antimicrobial properties. But bamboo boards are a bit harder, which can be slightly rougher on the blades of your knives. However, the extra density also makes the board less prone to marring and scarring from the knives, which leads to fewer chinks and nooks for water to flow in. A dry board is always less likely to distort compared to a moist one and if you don’t soak the bamboo board in your sink, it can actually last for a prolonged time. Moreover, bamboo cutting boards are an environmental-friendly and sustainable choice as bamboo falls under fast-growing, easily renewable resources. These boards are lighter compared to wooden boards and you don’t need to oil them frequently as you have to do with their wooden counterparts. As a natural light wood, bamboo contains fine grain and because of this, many cooks adore the natural look of bamboo cutting boards and their modern elegance. Additionally, bamboo resists staining, which is often a problem with meats and various acidic plants like tomatoes.
Plastic cutting boards come with a number of advantages. Firstly, they’re comparatively cheaper compared to wooden boards. Secondly, you can easily toss them in your dishwasher. In addition, plastic boards come in a wide range of sizes, shapes and colors, which makes it easier for you to mix and match them with the kitchen décor. For instance, plastic cutting boards with different colors can be used in this way:
- Yellow colored for poultry
- Red colored for raw meat
- Green colored for vegetables
Plastic cutting boards also carry a general consensus that they’re likely to be more hygienic for preparation of raw meat and prevention of cross contamination of foods. However, this may not be completely true because of their ability to have deeper grooves, which can be breeding ground for bacteria. It’s important to understand that some kitchen knives can cause great damage to plastic boards. So, you should keep an eye on the board when breaking down an entire chicken and make sure to replace them on a regular basis when you find signs of substantial wear. However, you can still have a few plastic boards simply because they’re lighter in weight, easy to store and you can conveniently move around your kitchen with them.
Glass cutting boards have gained some popularity among cooks due to various reasons. First, they can be cleaned easily i.e. you can simply put them in your dishwasher and they would be usable again soon. In addition, you can be rest assured of not getting grooves from the knives on a glass board, which leaves no breeding place for bacteria. Glass cutting boards are available in different designs and colors, which can easily increase the aesthetics of your kitchen. Finally, glass cutting boards are capable of resisting heat, which means they can be used as hot pads. Despite of all these advantages, many cooks don’t encourage using glass cutting boards because they can easily ruin your knives. Hence, while glass boards are easy on the eyes, it’s advisable to look for other options and avoid using glass boards in case you’ve got a good chef’s knife that you wish to cherish for a prolonged period.
Flat Grain Board
Flat grain boards are quite popular among cooks because of the two key reasons – they’re cost effective and easier to make. Here, the cutting surfaces are typically developed simply by adjoining boards together, much akin to wooden table tops. However, these boards provide a high amount of warping effect over time because of the movement of wood as it gains and delivers moisture. Since cutting boards come in contact with water and different kinds of other liquids, they’re more likely to be warped compared to other wooden items, which are constructed using the same method, such as most of the table tops. However, different construction techniques are there that can reduce these cracking and warping effects. Two of the most commonly used methods are sticking the boards with end grain construction method and sticking the panel in an edge grain design.
End Grain Board
Each piece of end grain boards are placed in such a manner that the wood grains run vertically. These high quality cutting boards look similar to chess-boards and provide more durability and strength compared to other wooden boards. End grain boards provide a conventional ‘butcher block’ appearance and offer more resistance to knife cuts. When slicing down with a sharp and solid object, the bristles move aside merely and the object can pass in between. If you remove the object, the bristles return to their actual position. In addition, with end grain boards, you don’t need to worry about shattering as the direction of wood fibers points upwards, making you cut into them instead of across them. Apart from this, cutting boards created through end grained construction method are usually thicker compared to its other counterparts, which means probability of warping is very rare or completely nil. The only disadvantage of these boards is they’re usually extremely expensive than other types mainly because of the high amount of labor needed to construct them. However, most of these boards provide heirloom quality and, if maintained properly, may remain good for use for multiple generations.
Using Different Boards for Different Foods
In case you’re an omnivore, perhaps having a couple of cutting boards such as one wooden and another one made of plastic would be ideal for you. Wooden cutting boards are perfect for vegetables and fruits, offer prolonged longevity and aid to increase the life of the knives while plastic cutting boards help to keep bacteria away from raw meat. In addition, oils coming out from fish can sometimes flow into the wood fibers and may leave long-term smell on the wooden cutting boards. It’s important to note that vegetables/fruits can carry bacteria too. So, select cutting boards that suit your lifestyle and help you to stay hygienic.
Considering the Sanitation
You can find lots of discussions about whether wood or plastic cutting boards provide better sanitation. According to one school of thought, wooden boards provide natural protection as bacteria may dislike the wooden surface and thus would die even if they remain on the surface after the cleaning procedure, while some others opine that plastic boards are a better option as they offer non-porous surfaces that obstruct juices to penetrate the surface of cutting boards. According to most of the cooks, wooden cutting boards are the best option because of their durability, elegance and protection offered to the knives (bamboo is considered a close competitor though). Additionally, it isn’t advisable to clean wooden cutting in the dishwasher or soak them in the water, and you will need to oil them regularly while plastic boards can be easily cleaned in your dishwasher and any bacteria present would be killed during the cleaning process. In case you’ve a wooden cutting board, you should immediately scrub it with hot soapy water after use. Finally, whatever may be the outcome of the discussion, proper cleaning of the cutting boards after every use is crucial when it comes to sanitation of any type of cutting board.
Size of the Board
Bigger is normally better – this saying doesn’t appropriately fit when it comes to the size of cutting boards. For instance, smaller items can be always chopped on bigger boards but it would become difficult to cut larger materials if you’ve a smaller board. When deciding on the size of your perfect cutting board, there are three key factors that you need to consider. Budget should be the first factor. Secondly, you need to consider how you plan to clean it and finally, find whether you’ve sufficient space to store the board after use. If you plan to buy a plastic cutting board, you need to make sure that you can fit it in the dishwasher. In case you don’t own a dishwasher or you wish to buy a wooden cutting board, simply make sure that you can wash it conveniently after use. Ideally, you should choose a board that just falls short of the width of your sink to ensure you can opt for a convenient cleaning process. According to expert chefs, selecting a cutting board, which is 15 by 20 inches in dimensions, is ideal. This will provide you with adequate room to work effectively and safely as you cut. When it comes to storing the cutting board, make sure that you’ve a dry, clean place to store it when it’s not in use.
Cutting Boards with Legs
According to some cooks, it’s better to avoid cutting boards that come equipped with legs because legs restrict you from using both sides of the boards. On the other hand, especially for those who want their chopping block to be old fashioned, cutting boards with a set of legs seem to be the perfect one. It’s important to note that these cutting boards usually come for a hefty amount of money but if you can afford it and have a special kitchen that can match its elegance, it’s worth the money. If you plan to buy a cutting board with legs, you should look for a 3 to 4 inch high product in your preferred dimensions. If you can take care of it properly, it can be passed down to generations.
Finally, it’s a wise idea to have a couple of cutting boards to avoid possibilities of cross-contamination. Alternatively, instead of using several cutting boards with varying dimensions for different kinds of foods, you can use just one board – one side for certain types of foods and the opposite side for other kinds of foods. With proper maintenance and cleaning, a high-quality cutting board can stay with you for ages, potentially becoming an elegant family heirloom that can be passed down to your progeny.
- Abe Bars
- Tags: Cutting Boards
5 Tips for Buying the Perfect Chef's Knife 0
While there are a dizzying array of knife styles, shapes, and sizes to choose from, all you really need is one good chef’s knife. Since there is no ‘one size fits all’ option when it comes to knives—and buying one can be a lofty investment—it’s important to understand your personal preferences before you go shopping. Here are five tips for choosing a chef’s knife that makes chopping, mincing, slicing, and dicing more effortless, accurate, and enjoyable.
What to Look for in a Chef’s Knife
Once you hone in on what you’re looking for, buying the perfect chef’s knife will be a piece of cake. The most important things to take into consideration when buying a new knife (of any kind) are size, style, steel, handle, and weighting.
Size it Up
Before you start worrying about how stylish it is, take stock of what your needs are in the kitchen. If you’re an at home cook and don’t regularly find yourself breaking down whole chickens or chopping vegetables into a fine brunoise, then 8”-10” blade length should be plenty. Most non-industrial counter tops and cutting boards aren’t designed to handle much more than that, so stick to a size that’s comfortable in your hand and maneuverable in your space.
Above all else, your knife should feel like a natural extension of your arm—instilling confidence, not fear, when you take to the cutting board. While big knives may look impressive, bigger isn’t always better. If you simply can’t decide between 8-inches and 10-inches, Messermeister offers a 9-inch blade—both with and without kullenschliff’s—in their Meridian Elite collection that might be the perfect fit.
Pick a Style
Every chef has a preference that’s all their own, so this is where you’re going to need to pick a side: German or Japanese. There are pros and cons to each style, so let’s take a look at the anatomy of the knife, hardness of the blade, and the blade angles.
German knives are typically characterized by a full-tang, bolster, thicker blade, and 15° - 22° angle. Making them sharp, but also sturdy. Also known as shoulder, shank or collar, the bolster is the thick portion of a knife between the blade and the handle. It can add stability and strength to a knife and protect the user’s fingers of the gripping hand. Because of their beefier blade, they’re less prone to breaking or chipping if you accidentally cut up against bone or drop it. This also means they’re less adept at making delicate cuts, such as slicing sashimi or doing a fine julienne of vegetables.
On the other hand, Japanese knives are thinner and lighter, generally have no bolster, and the tangs vary by manufacturer. They typically boast 15 - 18° angle, which makes them impressively sharp, but a little more difficult to maintain. Because of their thinner blade composition they’re able to make extremely thin slices, but can’t tackle heavy duty tasks like carving a large melon as easily. If you’re keen on this style, turn your attention towards ‘Santoku’ knives, as this is what Japanese chef knives are known as.
Of course, there are exceptions to these rules and many brands, like Messermeister and Chroma, now offer hybrid options, which marry the favorite aspects from both styles into one versatile blade
Choose a Steel
The type of steel you choose makes a huge difference in both the durability of your blade and sharpness of your edge. Although there are huge variety of companies manufacturing numerous types of knives, you can basically break it down into two categories: high carbon and stainless steel.
Carbon steel is harder, sharper, and holds its edge retention longer than its stainless counterpart; however, it requires more maintenance to prevent it from rusting or discoloring. Stainless steel is the budget friendly option, easier to take care of, and gets the job done well, but doesn’t offer the same longevity as carbon. Since stainless steel is softer, it needs regular sharpening to keep the edge straight and razor sharp. Luckily, any standard knife sharpener will do the trick.
Ask any professional chef what they’d choose and they’ll likely steer you towards carbon steel as it offers more bang for your buck—especially in the long run.
Handle with Care
The key to having excellent knife skills—and keeping your cuts fluid over an extended period of time—is a relaxed and comfortable your grip on your knife. This means selecting a handle that’s well-suited for your frame and size. If you have smaller hands, you’ll want to reach for a thinner handle than someone with larger hands, who should choose a blade with a wider trunk. Many brands also offer ergonomic handles that fit comfortably in your palm and provide extra stability and support during extended cutting and chopping tasks. Ergo Chef and Messermeister both offer ergonomic grip.
Unlike typical Western-style handles that are flatter, Japanese knives often sport a round or oval handle. Most new users encounter a bit of a re-learning curve when it comes to adequately manipulating this style of knife, so keep that in mind if your knife skills aren’t tip-top.
The final thing you want to take into consideration when selecting the perfect chef’s knife is weighting. Weighting relates to the knife’s overall balance i.e. how well the weight is distributed between the handle and the blade.
For knives that are 8 inches or longer (like a 10 inch chef’s knife or long slicer), the balance point should be right where the blade meets that handle, meaning the blade and handle should weigh about the same. A center or rear-balanced blade places the balance point close to the hand where it can be more easily manipulated, improving agility and providing raw chopping power. For shorter knives (like a three inch paring or utility knife) designed for more precision cutting tasks, you can expect the majority of the weight to rest in the handle as opposed to the blade. This distribution provides increased control when navigating smaller, more accurate cuts, which is to be expected from a knife of this size.
Decisions, decisions...While there may not be a simple recipe for choosing your ‘Goldilocks blade’, identifying your personal preferences in each of these categories will make purchasing one that’s “just right” a breeze. Remember, your chef’s knife is the single most important tool in your entire kitchen, and can easily last you 25 years or more if well taken care of. So, try not to get too hung up on the price tag and opt for a knife that gets you excited to be in the kitchen and will be with you for the next quarter century.
- Alyssa Schwartz
How to Use Chef Knives: The Beginner’s Way 0
If you’re planning to begin your career as a chef, how to select the right knife, proper handling of kitchen knives and maintaining them all are crucial to sustain in this field. Proper knife skills will enhance your general experience and boost your confidence level. In this article, we’ve jotted down detailed instructions about the aforesaid aspects.
- Abe Bars
The Ultimate Guide to Sharpen, Hone and Care for Your Knives 0
Buying a quality knife is the first step towards becoming the Michelin Star chef you’ve always aspired to. Now that you’ve got great knives to work with, it’s time to focus on using and maintaining your steel. While we cover using your knives in other posts, maintaining your knife is equally important. Below are some easy to follow steps, from sharpening to cleaning to storage to traveling, that will help keep your knives and skills equally sharp.
Once you’ve used a truly sharp blade, everything else feels like a butter knife. Here’s what you need to know to keep your knives a cut above the rest.
How Often Should I Sharpen?
The frequency you should sharpen your knives depends on the type of blade, material, quality and how often you use it. If you are a frequent user, you should should plan to sharpen (or visit a professional) every few months. Not so frequent? Then you can space it out longer, up to a year or so. Ultimately, you can just go by feel. if using your knife goes from an easy, pleasurable task to an arduous chore, then it’s time to get back your edge.
Honing your edge will help align your blade, straightening its “teeth”. Some chefs compare it to flossing: an annoying task that you should do regularly (but probably don’t...shame shame). In order to hone your knife, you only need two things: a knife and a honing steel rod.
- Start by holding your honing steel tip down against a cutting board. Then place the heel (back) of your blade’s edge against the steel at a 10-15 degree angle at the top of the rod.
- Sweep the blade down the rod towards you, maintaining a steady pressure and consistent angle throughout. At the end of each stroke, the tip of your knife should be just above the cutting board. If it helps, imagine you’re slicing through a thick cut of meat and apply the same type of pressure.
- Repeat this process 5-8 times on both sides of your blade (equal amounts each side), reducing pressure as you go to ensure both sides remain even.
Protect Your Blade
Even if you have the most expensive knife on the market, it won’t matter if you fail to protect the blade. Here are some additional steps to ensure your blade remains protected in between uses:
- Hand wash and towel dry your knife immediately when you are done using it. This will prevent rusting, buildup and other things that can damage a blade over time.
- If you invested in your knife and store it in a drawer, spend a little more on a plastic or wood knife sheaths or blade guards. Anything you spend up front will save you much more in the long run.
- While knife blocks are usually sufficient, a magnetic strip is the ideal way to store regularly used knives. Attach your knife spine-first to the strip and slowly roll the rest of the blade on when you’re finished using it.
- Invest in an edge-grain cutting board (as opposed to an end-grain). It recovers better from use and helps protect your knives as well. Never use your knife directly on a granite countertop and try to avoid plastic when you can.
- Never, ever EVER put your knife in the dishwasher! You just invested in a great knife. If you treat it like an everyday item, that’s exactly what it will become. A dishwasher will dull, nick and rust your knife. ALWAYS hand wash and towel dry your knives.
How to Sharpen
Even the sharpest knives can become dull over time. It’s one of the most difficult maintenance tasks in the kitchen and if you feel more comfortable letting a professional sharpen your blades, it’s probably best to let them do it. There are many services that you can send your knives to and receive perfectly sharpened blades a few days later. However, if you want to be a master of your craft, there are a few different ways you should go about sharpening your knives.
While your blade returns to alignment each time you hone it, you may notice that it doesn’t remain as sharp for as long each successive time you hone. At a certain point, it’s time to sharpen again.
Your high-quality knife will contain high-elasticity alloys and can easily be realigned with a standard honing steel. However, you should make sure you never use a diamond-coated or pull-through manual or electric sharpening device to hone your blade as it will destroy your turned edge. These devices are for sharpening only, not honing.
In order to sharpen a blade, you'll need that diamond-coated or ceramic sharpening steel, a whetstone or a modern handheld or electric sharpening device that fixes a constant angle to eliminate the guesswork. One thing to keep in mind is that the speed at which you move your blade against a steel or stone does not matter. What matters much more is the technique: the consistency of pressure, smoothness of your motion, angle of the blade and number of times you sharpen each side.
Using a Steel
While your honing steel is great for maintaining alignment, you need a diamond-coated or ceramic sharpening steel once honing no longer maintains your ideal edge. Ultimately there’s no substitute for a whetstone, but a good sharpening steel can give your edge a longer life.
- Hold your steel the same way you did when you honed your edge. This time, place the knife blade against the tip of your sharpening steel at a 20 degree angle.
- Pull the knife down and across the steel in a slight arc.
- Alternate strokes on each side of the blade and repeat 5 to 10 times.
- Note: It’s very important that you maintain the 20 degree angle and run the full length of the cutting edge along the steel from the hilt to the tip. Technique is far more important than speed!
Using a Stone
Using a whetstone is a difficult, labor-intensive and precise way to sharpen a knife. Ultimately, there's no better substitute than learning how to use a whetstone from an expert in person. Improper use of a whetstone can destroy your blade and if you’re a novice, we recommend using a modern handheld or electric sharpening device that maintains the ideal angle throughout.
While an expert can perfectly sharpen a knife with a single-faced stone, it’s more useful to use a three-way oil stone with fine, medium and coarse faces. Only use the stone when your edge does not re-align with a steel, meaning it has dulled from constant use or honing.
Use the video below as a visual guide and the steps listed as a reference, only after you’ve successfully sharpened a knife at least once with a stone.
- Fill a medium-sized container with water and thoroughly soak your whetstone (or stones). Keep the stones submerged until they stop bubbling. The water acts as a lubricant during the cutting process and the porous stones must be loaded up before you begin sharpening.
- While your stones are soaking, inspect your blade with a light behind you, slowly angling it back and forth. Glints of light will reflect off any imperfections in your blade.
- Prepare your workstation by securing your piece of wood (or cutting board, face-down) over your sink and place the whetstone on top.
- Starting with the coarsest stone (or coarsest side of your three-way stone), run a continuous trickle of water over the sharpening area from your sink.
- With your dominant hand, gently grip your knife by the handle and place it flat on the stone. Gently press the blade into the stone with your thumb and lifting the back of the knife to set your sharpening angle - 10-15 degrees for Japanese knives, 18-22 for European knives.
- Keeping your dominant hand on the handle, place your non-dominant hand’s fingers on the tip-side of the blade. While applying even pressure and maintaining a consistent angle, drag the knife across the stone from the tip to heel in a smooth and controlled motion. An arc motion may help you maintain a smoother technique.
- After 5 to 7 strokes, flip the knife and repeat on the opposite side. Be sure to match the angle and pressure.
- Continue the process, reducing the number of strokes after each pass. The total number of passes on the coarse stone will depend on how hard the knife steel is, how coarse the stone is and how dull or damaged the knife is.
- Be sure to check your progress by drying your blade and visually inspecting the areas that were dented and dinged. Gently press your dry thump against the blade and barely move it across the edge. Sharpened spots should feel like sandpaper while dull spots will be smoother.
- When all dents and dings are gone and the blade is consistently sharp across its edge, repeat steps 4-9 with the next, finer stone. Make sure you use the same angle and pressure as before. After the coarse stone, fewer passes are necessary. Unlike the coarse stone, the finer stones do not require running water, so you can turn off your faucet for the last two.
- Test the blade throughout sharpening. It should feel smoother than after the coarse stone but still pull gently.
- Repeat steps 4-9 with the finest stone. Test the blade throughout the sharpening process. With extremely high grit stones, the edge can feel as smooth as glass once completely sharpened.
- Strop your blade. While passing the blade (same angle/pressure) over leather or canvas is ideal, denim also works.
- Finally, test your knife! Slice a vegetable, a piece of paper or even give your arm a quick shave!
Sharpening Serrated Blades
While we do not advocate sharpening a serrated blade on a steel or stone, there are many tools we offer that make it easy for a novice or professional chef. However, your serrated blade should rarely, if ever, require sharpening and is usually easier to simply replace when dull.
Using a specialized serrated knife sharpening tool, simply work the hone in a back and forth motion, perpendicular to the edge. Every so often, stop and feel for a raised burr on the backside of the blade. Only move on to the next tool when you see or feel a raised burr. Once you have completed sharpening the ground side, flip the blade over.
If this guide has left you overwhelmed, that’s perfectly normal. When it comes to caring for premium chef knives, it’s better to be safe than sorry. These days, there are plenty of resources and services that can ensure you maintain your edge without breaking the bank. However, if you want to take your knife and your skills to the next level, invest in a whetstone and get to work!