Here I will share what we learned so strap on your
1. Brands of knives
Our instructor said two of the best brands of knifes are Henckels and Wusthof - both German brands. She was not gaining any perks and I had also heard this previously from various sources when we shopped for our knives several years ago. We have a Henckels set and have been very happy with them.
2. Types of knives
It is important to use the right knife for a particular food not only so it is cut properly but also for safety reasons. You are more likely to end up with a nick or cut when using the wrong knife.
Santoku/Chef's knife. Usually 7 or 8 inches, this is the most important knife in your kitchen.
This is a Santoku, a Japanese style knife.
Because of the flat blade edge,the Santoku is designed for straight up and down chopping motion much like you see on many cooking shows like Iron Chef. Due to this you can chop quite quickly. The little intentions in the blade are called hollow edge and it helps the food fall off the knife when chopping instead of sticking to it.
The regular chef's knife has a curved blade edge so the rocking up and down cut is the proper cutting motion and is popular in french cooking. See how the blade below curves up where the Santoku one was flat.
You do not need both types of chef's knives and it comes down to personal preference when selecting one. Our knife block actually came with both which is nice. Use a chef's knife for cutting hard food like vegetables/fruits such as potatoes, onions, apples, carrots and peppers. We learned a great technique for chopping an onion evenly that I can't to document and share.
Serrated knife. This is usually a little shorter than a chef's knife.
Paring knife. Normally a 3-4 inch knife great for peeling or carving out foods like pieces an apple or peach. Since it is small it is easy to manage.
Carving knife. For well, carving meat. These are around 8 inches. Most people think of this for Thanksgiving turkey but it can be for cutting a chicken breast or whatever.
Of course there are many more knives but these are the main ones that you would use all the time, especially the first 3.
3. Hand Placement
How you hold a knife extremely important. You want to grip it where the blade and the handle come together and not back on the handle like many, myself included, are guilty of. Keep all your fingers close together and curled in. I have started this since our class and it makes a world of difference.
Here is a great picture I found on how to hold a knife.
4. Honing/Sharpening and Cutting Boards
You should use your honing piece (usually comes with knife sets) after every major use or as needed. Knives should be professionally sharpened about once a year. We definitely need to get into the habit of doing this to keep our knives sharp.
Even though those glass or marble cutting boards look lovely, they will dull your knives with time so you should use wood or plastic. I am so thankful we learned this because we use a large glass board often that sits on the counter instead of pulling out our plastic ones. Of course glass and marble could still be used for serving. I am going to search around for a large wooden board (perhaps monogrammed!) that we love and stick it on the Christmas list.
5. Washing and Storage
Even though many say dishwasher safe, it is best to hand wash knives to prevent dulling. Clanging around in the dishwasher with high water pressure will certainly do that in a hurry. Never place knives down in the sink for washing due to safety reasons.
It's best to store knives in a block or in a protective sleeve if you don't have a block. Usually if you buy a set, the knife block is included.
I hope this has improved your knife skills! We enjoyed the class and look forward to practicing what we learned. Check out the free and paid classes at Williams Sonoma and other places in your area if that interests you.
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