Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Maintaining Your Knife For Life

If I just forked over this much money for a quality knife to slice and dice veggies, I am gonna want to take the very best care of it that I can.

So how do we do that?

Here are a few tips…

After each use wash your knife in warm, soapy water and dry it well.

Never put it in the dishwater. This can dull and damage the blades.

Never soak your knife in water.

Store your knife in a certain place, not in a drawer crammed with everything else that manages to find its way into your kitchen….but more on this later…

Use a traditional knife sharpening steel to sharpen your knives. Otherwise, bring them to a knife store that will sharpen them for you. Remember that sharp knives are  not only easier to use, but also safer.

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  • Cuts
  • slice, mince, chop, crush, tenderize, and scoop up
  • cutting and
  • making garnishes
  • hold the knife in your writing hand (the Chinese
  • call this the “chopstick hand”).
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

These Knives Made the Cut

7" Chinese Chef's Knife Vegetable Cleaver, , large

So in my quest for the best knife to buy as far as veggies, which ones did I find worth considering…

Cutco Vegetable Knife #1735

  • Blade…wide enough to easily move ingredients from the cutting board to the pan
  • Blade Length…7-3/4″
  • Blade Material…410 High-Carbon, Stainless Steel
  • Cost…$150
  • Edge…straight
  • Engraving…available
  • Guarantee…Cutco’s Forever Guarantee means that they will sharpen, hone, buff, repair and if necessary replace your CUTCO knives and accessories for FREE, no receipt required
  • Handle…ergonomically designed for all hands—both large and small…both left and right
  • Handle Color…classic brown or pearl white
  • Handle Material…highly engineered thermo-resin
  • Overall Length…13-1/4″
  • Review…On the Gas
  • Source…”American Made. American Proud.”
  • Tang…full, meaning that the blade extends the full length of the handle
  • Use…to chop, slice and dice ingredients for soups, stews and vegetable platters
  • Weight…7.6 oz.

Dalstrong Phantom Series 6” Nakiri Vegetable Knife

  • Blade Length…6”
  • Blade Material…forged from a single piece of ice tempered steel with high levels of chromium added for stain resistance…the ice-tempering ensures excellent resilience and superior edge retention
  • Cost…$149.99…on sale now for $44.04
  • Edge…straight…double-bevel…tapered to minimize surface resistance and to increase both durability and flexibility
  • Handle Material…traditional Japanese D-shaped black pakkawood with a distinct red spacer, carefully crafted mosaic of copper and brass, and hand-polished stainless steel end cap designed to create counterbalance and distinction
  • Review…That’s a Knife
  • Tang…full tang for incredible robustness and quality
  • Use…prepping vegetables in bulk

Global Cutlery USA SAI 6″ Vegetable Knife

  • Blade Material…three-ply corrosion-resistant 18/8 and CROMOVA 18 stainless steel
  • Cost…$164.95
  • Edge…12.5-degree convex convex blade edge
  • Handle…unique thumb rest to give added comfort and control.
  • Handle Material…metal, totally wood free….three-ply corrosion-resistant 18/8 and CROMOVA 18 stainless steel
  • Review…Knifeista
  • Tang…full
  • Warranty…lifetime warranty against defects and breakage
  • Weight…1.3 pounds

Shun Classic 7-in. Vegetable Cleaver

  • Blade…hand-sharpened 16° double-bevel blade
  • Blade Length..7 in
  • Blade Material..high-performance VG-MAX stainless steel.
  • Cost…300.00
  • Handle Material…D-shaped ebony PakkaWood
  • Overall Length…13-1/4″
  • Source…Japan

ZWILLING Cutlery TWIN Signature 7″ Chinese Chef’s Knife Vegetable Cleaver

  • Cost…90
  • Edge…laser-controlled edge that is incredibly sharp, honed, and hand-finished
  • Handle…three-rivet handle
  • Handle Material…polymer
  • Source…a German manufacturer that has been making knives for over 280 years
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

How to Choose Quality Kitchen Knives

The very first thing that you will need to do when sauteeing food is to chop whatever ingredients you are going to use into manageable, bite-size pieces. This will make them faster and easier only to cook, but will also make sure that the ingredients cook more evenly.

Not only do you want your ingredients to be manageable and bite-size, but you also want to cut the different ingredients similar sizes so that they will cook evenly, instead of some ingredients being overcooked and other ingredients being undercooked.

Before we move to the next thing that you will need to saute your foods—which would be drying off your food and heating your skillet to actually start cooking—let’s take a look at different cutting terms and choose which knife we are going to use.

But first, let’s find a decent knife…

There are many knife manufacturers that market knives designed just for cutting vegetables.

These knives are specifically made to slice vegetables…

These vegetable knives are usually found only in Japanese kitchen knife sets—such as those knife sets made by Shun, Global, and Zhen.

Although these knives are a good choice, they are not always the best choice. For instance, larger vegetables such as potatoes will require a paring knife in order to shape and peel them.

But is buying a vegetable knife really necessary?

I don’t think so…

So let’s take a look at all of the other kitchen knife choices that could be used instead as you slice and dice your veggies, or whatever you may be cooking, that do not require forking over money that could be used to buy better quality ingredients instead.

Knife Choices

Boning Knife…Boning knives have a very thin blade and are used mainly for removing meat from the bone because the thin blade allows you to remove as much meat from the bone as you can.

Chef’s Knife…Chef’s knives are designed with a blade that makes it easy to learn how to do the fancy “rocking” motion that most of us only can wish for when watching such shows as Iron Chef…more on this later…

They also help when you’re cutting vegetables over a long period of time because they have some weight behind them.

Chinese Chef’s Knife…The Chinese chef’s knife is a lightweight, all-purpose knife that looks like a meat cleaver.

—Paring Knife…Because this knife is so small, it is great for cutting vegetables and fruits, but if you’re going to be cutting a lot of vegetables and it will take you a lot of time, this knife will make your hand more fatigued more quickly. Save this knife for those times when you are just slicing a carrot or peeling a few potatoes.

But regardless which knife you choose to dice and slice your veggies, there are some important things to consider, including…

Blade…The perfect blade should be strong and sturdy enough to cut meats and bones. If you will be slicing meat, you also need your blade to be thick. The blade of the knife should meet surgical grade or 18/10 grade.

Handle…The handle is an important part of the knife, just as important as the blade. The handle should not be slippery. For this reason, it is usually better to buy knives with wood handles. You also want the handle to be substantial, but not so heavy that you can hardly lift it. The handle must fit well and balanced in your hand.

Material…Always choose high-carbon steel or high-carbon stainless steel knives.

Tip…There are a few advantages of choosing knives with pointed or rounded blades, such as serving meat with bones directly onto a guest’s plate.

Weight…Technically there is no “correct” weight when it comes to knives, This is a matter of personal preference. But you do want to make sure that the knives you choose allow you to maintain control over the whole knife.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Wood You Rather

If you don’t want to fork over the money for a good wood cutting board, or you like other surfaces instead of wood, there are many choices available.

The main second choice would be plastic.

There are both advantages and disadvantages of these boards.

Advantages include…

  • affordable
  • are priced economically
  • available in many sizes
  • can be washed in the dishwasher, which is more likely to kill all of the bacteria
  • easier to maneuver
  • lighter
  • non-porous material that can’t absorb liquids
  • offer a non-porous surface so juices are unable to penetrate the surface. Furthermore,
  • practical to use
  • relatively easy on knife edges
  • require no additional maintenance
  • safe for knives

Disadvantages include…

  • don’t last as long
  • have no self-healing or bacteria-fighting properties
  • knife-scarred plastic surfaces are impossible to clean and disinfect manually
  • pores in the wood allow for the bacteria to penetrate where they become trapped, suffocate and die
  • surface gets rougher and rougher and becomes extremely difficult to clean, even in the dishwasher

Ultimately, the choice between these two surfaces is your own…but there are a few things to remember when choosing a new plastic cutting boards, such as…

  • Always use a separate plastic cutting boards for fish because the smell can sometimes seep into wood fibers and leave a lasting smell on your wood cutting board.
  • Avoid slick or smooth plastic, as this can cause knives to slip.
  • Choose polyethylene or polypropylene. These are kindest to your knives.
  • Make sure you buy a board that can fit it in your dishwasher.

Cleaning…Sanitize your board every so often, even if you do run it through the dishwasher, using a solution of 5% white vinegar with 4 parts water.

Other Surfaces—Besides these two materials, cutting boards can also be made from other things—such as bamboo, marble, granite, ceramic and glass.

Be careful when choosing one of these, because they can quickly dull your knives.

Bamboo

Bamboo boards have many advantages. One of these is the fact that bamboo boards are one of the best choices for cutting fruits and vegetables. Other advantages include…

  • lasting a long time
  • being “knife-friendly”
  • being made from a sustainable, environmentally friendly, highly renewable resource….
  • weighing less than wood boards
  • not having to be oiled as often as wood boarda

Glass

Glass cutting boards may be cute to decorate with in your kitchen, but as far as actually using glass cutting boards as you cook, don’t even bother. They’re terrible.

Why are they so “terrible?”

Becsuse they can dull the brand new knives that we are fixing to buy as the final tool to saute with in as little as ten strokes. 

Other Materials—such as marble, granite, ceramic, and composite

The same holds true to any other material out there that cutting boards may be made from-such as marble, granite, ceramic, and composite—can do similar damage to your knives, and should be avoided.

The Bottom Line…So just stick to wood and plastic boards….such as the boards that we will be highlighting in the next article…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

On the Chopping Block

The first step in sauteeing your food is to cut whatever you’re going to saute into uniform, bite-size pieces…

And unless you totally want to ruin both your countertops and your knives, it is very important to invest in a decent cutting board.

As you are shopping for your new cutting board, it is important to consider several things—such as size, maintenance, material, and cost.

Size…As far as size, I have found that it is smart to have at least two different sized cutting boards—a small one for cutting up fruit and small vegetables—such as strawberries, lemons, and limes…and a larger one for everything else.

As far as the larger cutting board, a general rule of thumb is to buy a board that measures 15″x20″. 

You should be able to lay your knife diagonally on your cutting board and have at least 1″-2″ on either side of the knife.

Buying such a large board is great for several reasons, including…

  • allowing you to better control the board as well as the knife
  • being more comfortable in general
  • giving you plenty of room to work safely and effectively
  • making cutting both easier and safer