Kitchen Basics – Part 3: Knives

As The Bachelor’s Kitchen continues to grow, we’re rerunning some of our early posts for you new folks. So, enjoy this from our discussion of  basic kitchen equipment every cook needs. 

With your cutting board, you can now think about knives to use on them.

There are two kinds of knives that are absolutely needed in the kitchen: a chef’s knife and a paring knife. These are at the opposite ends of the spectrum of knives.

You also need to think about a way to store your knives. A kitchen drawer is not the place. You should have either a wooden knife block or a magnetic strip. The blocks usually come with a knife set. The magnetic strips are great if you have the wall space and no small children around.

A knife set is not a bad idea. Just don’t get suckered into buying one with all those steak knives. You need space for four or five knives and a steel. A steel is a long metal stick on a handle with a textured surface. It does not sharpen, even if some people call it a sharpening steel. Eventually you will need a sharpening stone, but not right now. By the way, note I said a sharpening stone, not a metal sharpener. Those don’t work very well and can actually ruin the edge of the knives.

If you use a block, be sure to put the knives in with the edge up so contact with the block doesn’t dull the edge. The steel is used to keep the edge straight. When you use the knife, the very tip of the edge gets bent slightly to the side. Running the edge of the blade at about a 30-degree angle into the steel as you push the blade from tip to handle will straighten that edge and keep your knife sharper longer. And don’t do it quickly like you see the chefs on TV do it. They’re professionals and have been doing this for years. Go slowly. In fact, at the beginning you should place the tip of the steel onto a towel on the counter and slowly run the knife down the steel. Do this until you are more comfortable with the movement. A sharp knife is safer than a dull one because it cuts easier, allowing you to have more control.

A magnetic strip is even easier on the edges of the knives. They are very easily removed and can save valuable counter space. Just remember when you remove a knife to twist the edge away from the strip as you pull the knife free so the spine of the blade is the last thing to leave the strip. Place the knives in the same way in reverse. The helps keep the edge sharp.

A steel should be used every time you take a knife out to use. Good care will mean your blades will remain sharp for a good long time, maybe up to a year.

But here we haven’t talked too much about the kinves themselves. We’ll do that next time. Remember your comments are always welcome. Use the middle “Comments/No Comments” link below, or click on the Contact Us link in the Pages section to the right.

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