If you are planning to buy kitchen knives online or in a shop, we recommend reading this post where you will find some useful information to choose the best kitchen knives without spending too much money.
The offer of kitchen knives is very wide and you can find many types, sizes, materials and price levels. For a kitchen knife you can spend from a few Euros to several hundred Euros or, in some cases, even exceeding a thousand Euros for one of the top Japanese kitchen knives.
When the offer is so wide, it could be difficult to know how to choose the best kitchen knife, so we’ll try to give you some simple tips that can guide you in your purchase.
Which type of kitchen knives do you need?
Among many types of knives, there are some that should not be missing in any kitchen, here are the essential ones:
- the paring knife , a small knife with a thin, pointed blade, between 7 and 10 cm long, essential for cutting, peeling and cleaning fruit and vegetables or for carrying out small precision tasks also on meat or fish;
- the kitchen knife, also called cook or chef’s knife. It has a pointed and thin blade, the edge and the back curved almost symmetrically, it is available in different sizes. It is a very versatile knife, suitable for cutting, mincing and dicing any type of food. For normal home use, we recommend a knife with a blade of 20 cm, but if you have to use it professionally, you’d better choose a knife with a larger blade, 24 or 30 cm;
- the bread knife with its serrated blade cuts even the toughest crusts very easily without damaging the inside of loaves, baguettes and any other kind of bread. Some also use the bread knife to cut tomatoes, thanks to the teeth that cut the hard skin of the tomato very easily;
- the slicing knife: with a narrow blade and rounded tip is the perfect knife for slicing cured meats such as ham, salami and sausages of all kinds; it is also available with a pointed end curved upwards, for slicing roasts and meats, great for barbecue, often be combined with a carving fork.
At the table, on the other hand, a good small knife with a 10-11 cm blade, preferably with a serrated edge, is indispensable for cutting meat, fish, pizza and fruit.
In addition to the aforementioned knives, absolutely essential in any kitchen, there are other knives for more specific jobs that could be very useful, among these we mention a few, such as the boning knife, the fish filleting knife and the butcher knife, suitable for cutting large pieces of meat.
Furthermore, if you want to keep your knives always sharp, you will also need a sharpening steel or stone.
All major European manufacturers, in principle, guarantee high quality standards and long lasting perfomance, however we would recommend paying attention to a few factors:
- some manufacturers outsourced their knives production in order to increase their profit to detriment of quality and customer satisfaction, therefore make sure that the Made in Italy/Germany, etc. are written on the knife;
- the highest price does not always correspond to the absolute best quality: the best known brands often heavily invest in advertising and have to recover the investment by increasing the selling price without this having a positive impact on the quality of the product. It is possible to find excellent quality knives on the market at lower prices, offered by little-known brands that prefer to invest in production process and product quality improvement rather than in marketing.
Here are our advices to choose a good kitchen knife:
The blade of a knife is obviously the most important part of the tool, the best manufacturer use stainless steels with a high carbon content combined with chromium, molybdenum and vanadium; components that determine the cutting capacity, edge duration, good corrosion resistance and easy re-sharpening.
One of the best steel that offers these features is identified as AISI 420 or X50 Cr MoV 15.
The thickness of the blade must not be too thin and suitable for the type of knife, for example a paring knife or a table knife must have a blade with a minimum thickness of 1 mm (measured on the back near the handle), a 20 cm kitchen knife, a bread knife or slicing knife should have a blade thickness of at least 2 mm.
The blade hardness is a very important factor for the quality of the product, it is obtained through the hardening process and gives the edge the strength necessary to cut, maintain sharpness for a long time together with a good general elasticity of the whole blade. A good knife must have a blade with a minimum hardness around 55 (±2) degrees Rockwell HRC.
Knives with a ceramic blade are harder and offer significantly higher cutting performance than a standard stailness steel knife. However, the ceramic blade is very fragile and for this reason we recommend knives with a stainless steel blade.
A separate discussion must be made for Japanese kitchen knives, some of which are manufactured with special stainless or carbon steel alloys and offer absolutely exceptional cutting performance. These knives, generally made by craftsmen, have very high production costs and are therefore intended for a niche of very demanding users.
When buying kitchen knives online be aware that, generally, the same indicated in the production description refers only to the length of the blade, not the entire length of the knife, e.g. if you are buying a 20 cm kitchen knife, that size is the blades length only!
The sharpening of the blade, generally done by hand by the most expert workers in the factory, is obviously one of the most important phases of the production process. The edge can be toothed or serrated, as for example on table knives and bread knives, or smooth with a specific cutting angle for each model.
The handle of kitchen knives can be of plastic, wood or steel. Knives with plastic handles are the most popular because – if produced with high-quality materials, the most commonly used are Polypropylene and POM – they offer high hygiene standards and durability that is superior to wooden handles, which can absorb odors and bacteria and are also easily damaged if washed in dishwasher.
The stainless steel handle can be a good alternative as long as the handle is not too heavy and does not compromise the balance and handling of the knife.
Regardless of the type of material, we still recommend that you make sure that the shape of the handle is ergonomic, so that it offers a good grip and does not tire your hand when using the knife for long time. We do not recommend forms that are too modern as they may have an attractive design but are uncomfortable and unsafe.
Finally, here are – in a few words – our tips to choose the best Kitchen Knives:
- prefer knives that are made in Europe;
- stay away from cheap knives, made with poor quality materials that lose their edge after a very short time;
- choose blades made with AISI 420 steel with a hardness of approx. 55 HRC and an adequate thickness;
- ergonomic handle with good balance.
We hope this post has been helpful and should you have any questions or doubts, you can contact us using the appropriate form.
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