Knife Skillz

June 12th, 2008 by katie

Our current chef's knife-waaay too big for me

Knife Skills class was fantastic! I got to try a couple of different sizes of chef’s knives and settled on an 8 inch for Daddy Chaos and a 6 inch for myself. We also got a quick lesson on all the different kinds of knives out there. We practiced several different cuts: julienne, dice, chiffonade, mince, and supreme. We learned proper grip of the knife and how to safely grip the food we’re cutting. Overall, it was a very fun way to spend a few hours and we definitely came away feeling more confident in our knife skills. Practice definitely makes perfect, so now we need to pick up a few knives and get to work.

Types of Knives

There are pretty much as many specialized knives as there are kitchen tasks. Some common ones are: paring, peeler, utility, bread, carver/slicer, chef, santoku, boning, filleting, lettuce, cheese and steak knives. On our counter top we have a universal knife block. This way we can buy the best individual knives for us rather than a big, expensive set that has a bunch of knives we won’t ever use. Currently we have several santoku knives(santoku refers to the shape of the blade, not the hollows on the side, I learned), but after our class we will be switching over to chef’s knifes. I really liked the slight curve of the chef’s knife. Being able to rock the blade over the cutting board really made the typical cuts a lot easier. We also have a long, serrated bread knife, and several sharp paring knives. We have a bunch of other mixed knives but will probably get rid of most of them and invest in a good slicer, a good utility knife, and maybe a cheese knife.

Knife Care: Steeling & Sharpening

The long metal rod that came with your knife set is the steel. Using it every time you use your knife will keep your knife feeling sharp much longer. It isn’t actually sharpening the knife, however. Making contact with the cutting board over and over bends the blade of your knife, making it feel dull. Rubbing it a against the steel a few times just bends it back so it is nice a straight and sharp again. Be sure to use even strokes, the same number on each side of the blade, and start from the hilt of the knife and pull back all the way to the tip each time holding the knife at about a 20° angle. Doing this frequently will significantly extend the period between real sharpening.

You should get your knives professionally sharpened about once a year depending on use. Sharpening needs to happen on a wet-stone, belt or by machine. Don’t attempt it yourself unless you know what you’re doing because you will probably ruin your knife. Lastly, always wash your knives by hand and store in plastic or wooden slots to keep the blades from banging against each other.

Knife Grip

Gripping the blade, not the handle

The best way to hold a knife is to actually grasp the blade between your thumb and forefinger just in front of the bolster (the place where the blade meets the handle). Then grip the handle with the rest of your fingers. This gives you the most control over the blade. I find it really hard not to extend my finger along the spine of the blade, but it really isn’t as secure that way.

Follow along the Knife Skillz Series:

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Posted in Tips and Tricks

3 Responses

  1. Andy

    That’s really cool. Where did you take the class?

    Our local high-end grocery store offers an informal cooking school and we signed up for a few classes. The Knife Skills class was excellent and next week is our first actual cooking class, so look for a post on that coming soon. I highly recommend seeking out hobbyist cooking classes for beginner cooks who want to gain some confidence. I’ve seen them offered via grocery chains such as Whole Foods, local community colleges, restaurants, hotels, and city recreation departments. -Katie

  2. Liz

    Stumbled onto your blog this morning… this post is fascinating! We have seriously poor knife selection in our kitchen, I’m always afraid someone will see my three dinky steak knives and laugh. 🙂

  3. Stella

    Hey! I just started my own blog to sort of document my interests, too. We have a lot in common. My main interests are healthy eating and cooking, too. I am also a Mom! I look forward to reading more of your posts. Sounds like a great class!

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About chaos

cha·os -noun 1. a condition or place of great disorder or confusion. My chaotic kitchen is the result of three kids, two adults, dog, cat, and fish, a food obsession, a wine drinking hobby, and too few hours in the day. Between trying to feed a family of five healthy, happy meals, watching my weight, saving my pennies, and staying partially sane I have picked up a few tricks along the way. So here they are: the very best tips, tricks, and recipes from my chaotic kitchen-to yours!

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