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Use Your Kitchen Knives Like a Pro

May 25, 2008
With some know-how and practice, a kitchen knife can be your best friend during food preparation, or it can be a potential source of serious injury. Depending on your skill and what you already know about knife safety, it's always a good idea to hone knife safety skills. The first step in kitchen knife safety is purchasing the most quality set of knives you can afford. Avoid sets that have gaps at the joint - where the blade and handle meet. Quality knives should feel heavy and solid in your hand. And most importantly, take the time to learn how to use the knives and care for them.

There are five basic types of kitchen knives:

1. Chef's Knife

A chef's knife is typically the largest knife in the kitchen, with a wide blade that is eight to 10 inches in length. For the best wear and stability, the knife should have a full tang. In another words, the blade should go all the way through the handle. The chef's knife is one of the most important tools you can own when it comes to cooking. It can be used for slicing, chopping, dicing, mincing, julienne cuts, disjointing large cuts of meat, and even smashing garlic.

2. Paring Knife

Another often-used kitchen knife is the paring knife, which is generally 3 to 4 inches in length. It is ideal for peeling and coring fruits and vegetables, cutting small objects, and slicing.

3. Utility Knives

Longer than paring knives but smaller then chef's knife, utility knives are typically 5 to 8 inches long. Utility knives are also referred to as sandwich knives because they are an ideal size for slicing meats and cheeses. Utility knives are good to keep around as extras.

4. Boning Knife

Generally 4 to 5 inches long, the boning knife has a more flexible blade that curves around the meat and bone. With a sharp point and narrow blade, the boning knife is used for removing the bones of poultry, meat and fish.

4. Bread Knife

Bread knives are usually serrated. It's recommended that a serrated knife have pointed serrations rather than wavy serrations for better control and longer knife life. Consider using a 10-inch serrated bread knife for whole loaves and a six-inch knife for cutting smaller items, such as sandwich buns. When cutting through bread with a bread knife, use a sawing motion.

How to Safely Use a Knife

When using a knife, the most important guideline to follow is to chop the knife slowly and carefully. Always cut away from your body. Use a nonslip surface to cut on and make sure your hands are dry. Fingers on the hand holding the food should be curled under to protect from the knife. The knife should not leave the surface you're working on.

Keeping Your Knives Sharp

Knives that are not kept sharp are unsafe. They can easily slip off food that you are cutting and cut your fingers instead. Keep knives sharp by using a steel, which sharpens knives by straightening out the edge. When sharpening a knife, hold it in your dominate hand and the steel in the other with the steel point pressed into a solid waist-high surface. Holding the knife base at the top of the steel at a 20-degree angle, slowly draw the knife down the length of the steel so the entire blade, from base to tip, moves against the steel. Repeat on the other side. Sharpen the knife like this five to six times. Rinse off and dry immediately.

Storing Your Kitchen Knives

Knives that end up in a drawer will become more quickly than those stored in a knife block or magnetic knife rack. Plus, there's a better chance of injury reaching into a drawer full of knives. High quality knives should be washed by hand and dried immediately. Avoid putting your knives into the dishwasher.
About the Author
Safecutters Inc., provides an online store of utility knife box cutters for opening shipping boxes and shipping packages, as well as safety knives to open moving boxes and packages. For more information about Klever Kutter and other Safecutters products contact us!
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