Get Your Blades Right: A Beginner’s Guide to Kitchen Knife Uses
Last updated ago
6 min read
By 
Michael Way
Published 
January 3, 2022

Get Your Blades Right: A Beginner’s Guide to Kitchen Knife Uses

Last updated ago
6 min read
By 
Michael Way
Published 
January 3, 2022

Knives are an essential tool in any kitchen. Razor-sharp knives make cooking possible and help you prepare and present food perfectly. Nevertheless, they can be dangerous if you don't know how to use them. 

Whether you're a beginner or an expert, this post will guide you through everything there is to know about knives and their uses in the kitchen. We’ll also go through the characteristics you should look for in knife parts to ensure that you get the best kitchen knife. And as you pick the best knives, we’ll arm you with knowledge on their proper care.

Let’s start!

Different kitchen knife uses and types

In the face of a complete 15-piece knife set, it’s easy to get lost classifying the different knives and figuring out which one to use for the ingredient you are preparing. 

Stop using just any knife for your slicing tasks, and know the basics like the knife’s name, appearance, and uses. 

Chef’s knife

This one’s the easiest to classify, for it is the knife often bought separately. In a set, it is the one that measures 6–12 inches long, a reliable all-around knife for cooks. Cooks consider a chef’s knife as their hand’s extension because they can use it for slicing, dicing, and mincing all types of ingredients, from meat to fruits and vegetables.

Santoku

If you are a fan of Japanese knives, you’ll want a santoku in your knife set. 

A santoku is the counterpart of the western chef’s knife. In contrast to a chef’s knife’s tapering edge, a santoku has a flat edge. Nevertheless, this knife can perform the same tasks as a chef’s knife. 

Utility knife

You can tell a utility knife apart from the other knives in the set by its 4- to 7-inch length. The width of the blade is also narrower compared to a chef’s knife. 

So, what is a utility knife used for? Utility knife uses include slicing vegetables, fruits, and meat too small for a chef’s knife. 

Boning knife

Ensure that no meat goes to waste—be it fish, pork, chicken, or beef—by using the correct knife for deboning. 

Deboning knives are 3–6 inches long and are reliable in preparing small-sized ingredients. In addition, they have a range of flexibility; you can use them interchangeably depending on the meat and part you are deboning. 

knife uses

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Image alt: knife uses

Fillet knife

Like a boning knife, a fillet knife has different flexibility levels, allowing you to quickly fillet fish and cut it into thinner slices. Because a fillet knife is best used for fish, it’s lighter than a boning knife, which is mainly used for meat with more robust bones. Fillet knife uses also extend to slicing fruits and vegetables. 

Bread knife

Nothing beats the scent and taste of freshly baked bread. So use a bread knife to give your tasty bread a perfect slice. Using other knives not designed for bread can leave a baked masterpiece flattened or ruined, something you surely would not want. 

Cleaver

Do not ruin any of your blades by using them to chop challenging pieces of bones—a cleaver is designed to handle this task. This knife is heavy because of its wide and thick blade, perfect for chopping tough meat and bones. 

The Chinese often use a cleaver as an alternative to a chef’s knife. After slicing ingredients, the cook can easily scoop and place the ingredient in a bowl or pan. 

Paring knife

For medium-sized fruits like apples and pears and those as small as a tomato, use a paring knife. It is the knife for peeling small ingredients. You can also use it to create garnishing to make your food more pleasing to the eyes.

Steak knife

A knife set often includes a couple of steak knives, perfect for when you prepare steak and other sumptuous meat dishes for a family dinner. Their length and size are just right for the user to handle it with comfort. 

Carving knife

One of the oldest knife styles is the carving knife; it has been a part of dinner tables since turkeys became a part of Thanksgiving. The specific use of this long, narrow blade is for carving roasted chicken, turkey, or duck. You can also use it for filleting bigger fish because of its 8- to 15-inch blade. 

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Image alt: utility knife uses

Kitchen knife parts

Did the above discussion of the knife uses overload your brain? Do not worry. As you spend more time in the kitchen and become more familiar with the different knife uses, you’ll memorize the purpose of each knife in the set. 

Now, let us learn about knife parts: the blade, handle, store, and bolster. 

Blade

Familiarize yourself with the terms “forged” and “stamped.” Forged knives are shaped and cut from a single piece of steel, while stamped knives, as the name suggests, are stamped in bulk onto a large steel piece. 

You must also remember the terms full tang and partial tang. Full tang means the blade extends to the handle; many favor it over partial tang because it is more durable and gives the user more control. 

Handle

Handle types are just as many as knife types. You can choose from at least ten different kinds. 

  • Wood
  • Metal
  • Micarta
  • Stag bone
  • Aluminum
  • Stainless steel
  • Carbon fiber
  • Titanium
  • Fiber-reinforced nylon
  • G10
  • Leather
  • Mother-of-pearl
  • Rubber

All these handle types have their strengths and weaknesses, and the best choice depends on where you’ll use them. For instance, Micarta is best for combat knives, while stag bones suit hunting knives. For kitchen knives, rubber, wood, and stainless steel are popular choices. 

Bolster

You will find the knife bolster between the handle and the blade. Made of thick, embossed stainless steel, this part of the knife serves as a finger protector and balancer. You’ll find full- and half-bolster kitchen knives, and your choice depends on your goal. Choose full-bolster knives if safety is your top priority. 

Storage: sheath or knife block

For additional safety, make sure to keep your knives organized in their proper storage. If you have a set, place them in a knife block. If you plan to buy individual knives, it is best to choose the ones with sheaths. For kitchen knives, plastic sheaths with breathing holes are best for easy drying and corrosion prevention. 

kitchen knife

Taking care of your knives

You will want to buy the best knives like Ekco kitchen knives or from brands like Wusthof and J.A. Henckels. And once you have them, it is only right to take care of them through the following steps:

  • Keep the blades sharp by using a manual or electric sharpener. 
  • Always keep the knife dry by wiping it after washing or air-drying it before storing. 
  • Test the sharpness of the blade by cutting a piece of paper. If it gets sliced in one motion, your knife is good to go. 
  • The handle also needs special care, especially if it is wooden. Sandpaper it for cleaning and apply mineral oil after. 
  • If you need to keep the blade dry, you need to do the same for the handle. Follow the same method of wiping or air-drying before keeping it on a shelf or the knife block.
  • If your storage is leather, maintain the leather quality by frequently cleaning it and applying leather care oil. 
  • For your safety, ensure that your knives are sharp and always in the best condition. With good knives, you can achieve perfect slices for the ingredients you are preparing. 

Final thoughts

We hope that this kitchen knife buying guide has enlightened and prepared you for the cooking battles you are about to face in the kitchen. Food preparation is indeed better with the right blade for peeling, slicing, and dicing; dishes look and taste better too! 

Aside from their uses, take note of the handle, blade, storage, and bolster of the knives you want to purchase. These determine whether a knife is high-quality or not. 

Finally, once you’ve picked the best knives, take care of them. After all, they are your reliable partners in the kitchen. 

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