Knives are awesome. Like most people who enjoy cooking, my knives are some of my favorite kitchen tools. Heck, I even have one tattooed on my leg (though the story behind that goes deeper than just thinking it looked cool)!
So let’s talk about ‘em! Here are 11 More Random Kitchen Tips, this time all about knives.
[In case you missed the first one, check it out HERE!]
Random Tip #1
There are a lot of different types of knives out there, but you can really function quite comfortably, in my opinion, with just three (types):
- A classic chef’s knife is the undisputed, multi-tasking workhorse of the kitchen knife world. I do probably 95% of my slicing, dicing, and chopping with my chef’s knife (yes, that’s the exact model I have and I love it), and I see no reason to change. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. You’d be hard-pressed to find a list of “essential kitchen knives” that doesn’t include a chef’s knife. An absolute must-have.
- A small paring knife gets the job done when the chef’s knife is just too large (and again, this is the one I have). Cutting the seeds and membranes out of a bell pepper, for example. I also like them, as opposed to a chef’s knife, when you’re not cutting in a straight line.
- A set of steak knives is useful for your everyday, at-the-table cutting needs (I don’t own this set, but I bought them for my father once as a gift and have been jealous ever since).
Random Tip #2
Taking it back to #7 from the previous list, it’s important to think about how you’ll be able to clean your knives. One thing to consider is where the handle meets the blade: if the blade goes straight into the handle (at which point it technically becomes the tang) and the two form a right angle, there will be a nice little crevice where bits of food (and possibly bacteria and/or mold) can get stuck.
I prefer to buy knives where the bolster of the blade gradually widens to meet the handle. It’s easier to clean and feels better in-hand.
Random Tip #3
Use a honing steel (aka “sharpening steel”) in between getting your knives sharpened, not instead of getting them sharpened.
What’s the difference?
With use, the sharp edge of a blade becomes dull in two different ways: it becomes warped and jagged; and it becomes more rounded.
The honing steel helps to straighten out the warped edge. Sharpening the knife actually removes material until the edge is fine again. Both methods result in a functionally “sharper” blade, but they are different. If the edge has become worn down and rounded, no amount of honing will completely do the trick.
Random Tip #4
For the greatest balance, control, and comfort, hold your large knives like this (thanks for this one, Jessi!):
Random Tip #5
Dull knives are more dangerous than sharp knives. I know most people have actually heard this one already, but I think it’s important to understand why.
It’s quite simple: cutting foods safely requires a certain amount of control (specifically of where the blade goes). A sharp knife will go exactly where you tell it to; a dull knife is much more likely to deflect or bounce off to either side. Either that or it will push the food rather than cut it and knock the whole setup off balance. And since this setup usually includes your fingers, that’s not a fun situation.
Keep your knives sharp and keep your control.
Random Tip #6
How to cut an avocado:
- Slice down into the center (don’t worry about going all the way through - the pit will stop you).
- Rotating it around, continue the slice until you’ve gone all the way around the pit.
- Holding one side of the now-bisected avocado in each hand, gently twist the two pieces until they come apart.
- To remove the pit, hold the half very securely (not necessarily tightly - we don’t want to bruise the flesh) in one hand, and give it a good thwack with the knife.* With the blade firmly implanted, simply twist and pull.
- To remove the flesh, score it into the desired shape with a knife (be cautious when cutting toward your own hand, but know that the pressure needed to cut the flesh is MUCH less than the pressure needed to cut the skin) and scoop it out with a wide spoon.
*Several notes: first, be very careful here; second, I say “thwack” to describe the motion because I’ve watched someone try to stab the pit before and it...did not end well; third, please refer back to tip #5 and make sure you’re using a sharp knife!
Random Tip #7
Think big knives are more dangerous than small ones? Think again. Longer blades give you the ability to keep contact with the cutting board, thus adding another layer of stability and control.
Random Tip #8
The best way to store knives is with a knife magnet. When nothing can rub up against the edge or put weight on the blade, they can remain straight and sharp (re: useable) for a long time.
Plus, they just look cool.
[Want one custom made out of wood? Hit up my buddy’s CustomMade.com page! He doesn’t even pay me to say that...yet?]
Random Tip #9
Always wash your knives by hand and not in the dishwasher. Dishwasher detergent is very abrasive, things knock around, and they stay wet for far too long. Not good (especially if the handles are made of wood).
Candidly, we don’t hand-wash our steak knives. We probably ought to, and maybe will one day when someone lovingly buys us that Henckels set [or, even better, these Wusthof ones]. But until then, it hasn’t really seemed worth the trouble.
The big knives, though? Hand-wash only.
Random Tip #10
Dry your knives immediately after washing. Knives are made of metal, and metal corrodes. Some metals and blends might last longer than others, but it will happen eventually. Keep your knives dry to keep them in tip-top shape!
I don’t say tip-top very often. That felt weird.
Random Tip #11
Use your knife as a garlic multi-tool! To peel a clove of garlic:
- Place it on a cutting board on its “side” so that it doesn’t roll around.
- Place the flat side of a large knife on top of it.
- Give the top of the blade a good whack with your hand (please notice how the blade and my hand are at different angles, almost forming a "V" when they connect).
This will crack the skin and separate it from the clove, at which time you can then easily remove the peel and do whatever it is you want with the garlic.
It’ll take some experimentation to learn just how hard to hit it, but the nice part is that it doesn’t really matter most of the time. A half-smashed clove of garlic is just as useful as a blemish-free one.
Until next time, folks, be safe and have fun. Knives…they’re just cool.
Don’t forget to post your own knife tips in the comments!