Those of you who know me, know that I have a reputation for obsessively researching things before I buy them, and because of this I often get asked for recommendations. One of the questions I get asked quite often is ‘what kitchen knives should I buy?’.
Should I buy a set?
Probably not. While on paper they are a better deal, chances are you will probably use 2-3 of the knives included and the rest will lie dormant in the block or a draw. So, put the money you would have spent on a set towards a few knives.
There are three essential knives for all home kitchens:
- Chef knife: A broad versatile knife. Whether it dicing vegetables, chopping herbs, or cutting meat, this is the one you will use the most and therefore should spend the most on.
- Pairing knife: A smaller knife for more intricate work. Peeling, deseeding, cutting small vegetables and herbs.
- Bread knife: A serrated bladed knife. You use it for… well… the names a bit of a giveaway here.
German vs Japanese
There are two countries that dominate when it comes to kitchen knives, Germany and Japan. German knives are typically made of a softer steel and have a rounder shape. The softer steel means that they wont hold their edge for as long as a Japanese knife, but does make them more durable and less likely to chip. While the rounder shape of the German knife allows for rocking cuts, the straighter edge of the Japanese knives allows cleaner, more precise slicing. For most people, German knives will be the most appropriate for their needs and in my opinion are the best compromise, so all my best buys are German.
Which to buy
Best Value - Victorinox Fibrox
Relatively inexpensive, high quality, great handle, easy to clean, and durable.
£30 at time of writing.
High end - Wusthof Ikon Classic
Made out of forged steel, these are durable workhorses that will take anything you throw at them and if looked after will last a lifetime.
£100 at time of writing.
Why pay more?
The handle and balance! I know this sounds silly, but if you love cooking you want a knife that you feels effortless to use, one that is comfortable to hold and is well balanced to make slicing and dicing a breeze. This is it!
However, unless you are obsessed with things matching, you probably should save you money and only go high end for the chefs knife, and maybe the paring knife. Definitely not high end on the bread knife.
A good knife will last you a lifetime (if looked after).
There are some key things you can do to prolong the life of your knives:
- Don’t put them in the dishwasher.
- Dry them as soon as you have washed them.
- Use a honing rod to keep them in shape.