In a world of unlimited budgets, we’d all have a $600 artisan-made carbon steel blade (or three) in our home kitchens. But that’s certainly not practical for the vast majority of cooks, and many professional chefs make do without anything so elaborate.
While there are many types of knives you could have in your collection, we’ve come up with a list of three essential types (and one great addition) you should have on hand.
Chef’s Knife: More often than not, this is the go-to knife in the kitchen for chopping, dicing and countless other routine tasks in food prep. They’re typically six to 10 inches long, with a few models longer than that for chefs who prefer a large knife. Around the Calgary Learning Centre, most of our chef instructors use either eight- or 10-inch knives, and we typically use eight-inch knives to teach knife skills classes. Choose a size and brand based on the weight and feel. You don’t have to spend $100 on one of these; there are excellent, durable knives available in the $50 range that will last you for years to come.
Paring Knife: A knife with a small blade suited to small tasks where a larger knife would be impractical. Use it to peel vegetables or fruit, to cut fruit and berries into smaller pieces, etc.
Serrated Knife: The saw of the knife world, this is great for chewing through surfaces that can’t be easily sliced with a single stroke. The most natural use is slicing bread, but it’s also great a cutting through things with a hard outer surface.
Boning Knife: Not critical to have, but great for people who work with a lot of meat. As the name suggests, this knife is used for de-boning meat. The small, sharp blade is easy to work in between bones. They are available either flexible or rigid, depending on your preference.
Regardless of the knife type, make sure you keep your blades sharp, wash them promptly after using and don’t let them sit in the sink.