Making the cut

7 August, 2020

What to look for when buying knives

A good quality knife is a kitchen essential. Whether it’s for chopping and dicing veggies, carving meats, slicing fruit, or cutting bread, the right knife can make all the difference. That’s why Knife Day on 24 August exists – to celebrate the usefulness of knives and the ease that the right knife can bring to your kitchen.
But just what should you be looking for in a knife? And should you be buying knives individually or buying a set?

What makes a good knife?

Choosing the right knife is a very personal decision. It’s important that your knife feels comfortable to you and is a size that you can handle. Finding a knife that suits your hand, is well balanced and feels good to you all helps to ensure your knife will be safe and prevent kitchen injuries.

The two major styles of knife making are forged or stamped. Forged knives are more traditional, and some claim they are superior, but comparison reviews, like those by CHOICE, found this isn’t necessarily true. There are also differences between German-style and Japanese-style knives, usually around the blade-thickness. Whatever your preference, it’s more important to choose a knife that feels good for you than base your decision on the manufacturing style.

Of course, whatever knife you choose, making sure you take care of it is vital. Good knives should be handwashed, rather than put in the dishwasher, and it’s safest to keep your knife well sharpened. A sharp knife requires less pressure and you are less likely to injure yourself as a result.

Individual knives or a set?

For most kitchen applications, the main knives that people need are:

  1. A full sized knife, either a Santoku or chef’s knife.
  2. A paring knife for peeling and trimming fruits and veggies.
  3. A serrated bread knife (this can also be useful for things like tomatoes).

Other knives that are commonly included in a set include a boning knife (for removing meat from the bone), a carving knife for slicing joints and other knives of various sizes. Some knife sets include things like a set of steak knives or a pair of kitchen scissors too. The choice of whether to buy individual knives or a set comes down to how you cook. If you think you will use some of the other knives aside from the main three, and you can get a well- priced set, then this can be a good option. However, if the main knives in the set, especially the chef’s knife, aren’t well-sized or shaped for you, then a better choice may be to buy individual knives.