Ask any chef what they’d save if their house was on fire, and most would brave the flames to save their precious knives. By far the most important tool any cook can have in the kitchen, a sharp knife makes food a joy to prep, is much safer to use than a dull blade and allows for more accurate and detailed slicing, chopping, prepping and dicing.
While owning one good quality all-round knife (usually a cook’s or chef’s knife) is much better than having several dull or poor quality knives at your disposal, a full set really opens up your options when it comes to cooking at home. If you like the idea of filleting fish, dabbling in a little butchery or carving a leg of lamb like a pro, then you need the tools for the job. Read on to discover the differences between some of the most common knife types in the average chef’s set, what to look out for when buying knives and how to care for them once you’ve got them home.
Paring knife: one of the smallest knives available, a paring knife is used to prepare small vegetables and fruit such as chopping or peeling. Its small size means it is easier to tackle delicate or detailed tasks, such as deseeding small chillies, and its sharp tip is used to remove blemishes.
Cook’s or chef’s knife: Arguably the most important knife of all, this is a true workhorse and can be used for all manner of tasks. The blades can differ in length but will always be large enough to prepare meat, larger fruits and vegetables and finely chop everything from herbs to onions.
Bread knife: The serrated blade of a bread knife means it will saw through breads both soft and hard without affecting the texture. It has a very long blade and is also very useful for slicing or serving cakes and other baked goods.
Santoku knife: This Japanese knife is very versatile and can be used for all sorts of prep. The small indentations next to the blade’s edge allows food to slide off the metal easily, and the blunt, rounded end helps balance the knife and means it can be used more like a cleaver.
Chinese chef’s knife: European chefs have a variety of blades to choose from, but in China many cooks rely on just one in the kitchen. Shaped like a cleaver, it is used to slice and chop through all foods (although it is not strong enough to cut through bone, despite its appearance). The large rectangular blade means it’s quite heavy, which helps cut through more substantial ingredients with minimal effort.
Boning knife: The thin blade of a boning knife is specially designed to remove meat from bones with as little waste as possible. It’s rigid and strong enough to cut through connective tissue but small enough to easily work its way around joints and fiddly bones.
Filleting knife: With a bendy, flexible blade, filleting knives are made for preparing whole fish. Used on its side, the knife will follow the backbone of both round and flat fish with ease, creating perfect fillets with minimal waste.
Carving knife: A very long, sharp knife with a particularly sharp point that’s perfect for carving whole joints and other meats. Most have a plain edge but some are serrated to help saw through the meat.
Paring knife: Paring knives are ideal for preparing small fruits and vegetables.
Santoku: The rounded tip of a santoku knife helps to balance the blade in the hand.
How to hold a knife
Regardless of the type of knife you are using the method of holding a knife is the same. It is known as a “pinch grip” and is the safest, most efficient and most effective way to use a knife.
To hold the knife, grip it by placing your thumb and forefinger around the base of the blade in a pinching position. Wrap the other 3 fingers around the handle of the knife.
To cut, centre the knife in the middle of the chopping board and begin to create a rocking motion, up and over, using the whole length of the knife.
Use your other hand to make a claw shape – you will use this as a guide for your knife.
Food and drink news
Food and drink news
1/26 New York restaurant named best in the world
A New York restaurant where an average meal for two will cost $700 has been named the best in the world. Eleven Madison Park won the accolade for the first time after debuting on the list at number 50 in 2010. The restaurant was praised for a fun sense of fine-dining, “blurring the line between the kitchen and the dining room”
2/26 Why you crave bad food when you’re tired
Researchers at Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University in Chicago recently presented their results of a study looking into the effects of sleep deprivation upon high-calorific food consumption. Researchers found that those who were sleep-deprived had “specifically enhanced” brain activity to the food smells compared to when they had a good night’s sleep
3/26 Drinking wine engages more of your brain than solving maths problems
Drinking wine is the ideal workout for your brain, engaging more parts of our grey matter than any other human behaviour, according to a leading neuroscientist. Dr Gordon Shepherd, from the Yale School of Medicine, said sniffing and analysing a wine before drinking it requires “exquisite control of one of the biggest muscles in the body”
4/26 British dessert eating surges after people ditch healthy eating in February
: In heartening news for anyone feeling guilty about quitting their New Year diet, it seems lots of us have given in to our sweet tooths once again. New data from nationwide food-delivery service Deliveroo reveals there was a surge in Brits ordering desserts in February compared to the first month of 2017
5/26 US congress debates definition of milk alternatives
A new bill has been created that seeks to ban dairy alternatives from using the term ‘milk’. Titled the DAIRY PRIDE Act, the name is a tenuous acronym for ‘defending against imitations and replacements of yogurt, milk, and cheese to promote regular intake of dairy every day’. It argues that the dairy industry is struggling as a result of all the dairy-free alternatives on the market and the public are being duped too
6/26 Cadbury’s launches two new chocolate bars
UK confectionary giant Cadbury has launched two new chocolate bars, hoping to lure those with a sweet tooth and perhaps help combat some of the challenges it faces from rising commodity prices and a post-Brexit slump in the value of the pound.The company’s new products will be peanut butter and mint flavoured. They will be available in most major super markets as 120g bars, priced at £1.49, according to the company
7/26 You can now get a job as a professional chocolate eater
The company responsible for some of your favourite chocolate brands – think Cadbury, Milks, Prince and Oreo – have officially announced an opening to join their team as a professional chocolate taster. The successful candidate will help them to test, perfect and launch new products all over the world.
8/26 MSG additive used in Chinese food is actually good for you, scientist claims
For years, we’ve been told MSG (the sodium salt of glutamic acid) - often associated with cheap Chinese takeaways - is awful for our health and to be avoided at all costs. But one scientist argues it should be used as a “supersalt” and encourages adding it to food.
9/26 Lettuce prices are rising
Not only are lettuces becoming an increasingly rare commodity in supermarkets, but prices for the leafy vegetables seem to be rising too. According to the weekly report from the Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, a pair of Little Gem lettuces had an average market price of £0.86 in the week that ended on Friday, up from an average of £0.56 in the previous week – that’s an almost 54 per cent increase.
10/26 Food School
Kids celebrate Food School graduation with James Martin – a campaign launched by Asda to educate young people on where food comes from. New research has revealed that children across the UK just aren’t stepping up to the plate when it comes to simple facts about the food they eat – with almost half of children under eight not knowing that eggs come from chickens
11/26 ‘Do-It-Yourself’ restaurant
To encourage more people to cook and eat together, IKEA has launched The Dining Club in Shoreditch – a fully immersive ‘Do-It-Yourself’ restaurant . Members of the public can book to host a brunch, lunch or dinner party for up to 20 friends and family. Supported by their very own sous chef and maître de, the host and their guests will orchestrate an intimate dining experience where cooking together is celebrated and eating together is inspirational
Mikael Buck / IKEA
12/26 Ping Pong menu with a twist
Gatwick Airport has teamed up with London dim sum restaurant Ping Pong to create a limited edition menu with a distinctly British twist; including a Full English Bao and Beef Wellington Puff, to celebrate the launch of the airport’s new route to Hong Kong
13/26 Zizzi unveil the Ma’amgharita
Unique pizza art has been created by Zizzi in celebration of the Queen’s 90th birthday. The pizza features the queen in an iconic pose illustrated with fresh and tasty Italian ingredients on a backdrop of the Union Jack
14/26 Blue potatoes make a comeback
Blue potatoes, once a staple part of British potato crops, are back on the menu thanks to a Cambridge scientist turned-organic farmer and Farmdrop, an online marketplace that lets people buy direct from local farms. Cambridge PhD graduate-turned farmer, Adrian Izzard has used traditional growing techniques at Wild Country Organics to produce the colourful spuds, packed with healthy cell-protecting anthocyanin, which had previously disappeared from UK plates when post-war farmers were pushed towards higher-yielding varieties
15/26 France plans to usurp Scotland as the home of the world's best whisky
France is planning to usurp Scotland’s reputation as the home of the world’s best whisky, fired by a growing national obsession with the drink. According to a study by retail consultants Bonial, the French drink more whisky than any other country – an average of 2.15 litres a year, compared to 1.8 litres in second-placed Uruguay and the US in third on 1.4 litres
Bloomberg via Getty Images
16/26 The price of an avocado is set to rise
Britain’s avocado lovers are facing a significant increase in the cost of their favourite salad food because the so-called superfood is becoming too popular. High demand from health-conscious consumers has led Peru to triple its avocado exports since 2010, with exports to the UK up 58% over the past year
17/26 Eating cereal may not be the healthiest way to start the day
The old saying goes that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so many of us do as we are told and grab a bowl of cereal before we head out the door. But an expert has warned that while many cereals boxes claim their contents are the perfect start to the day, many are packed full of sugar and carbohydrates with little nutritional value. Even some seemingly-health muesli cereals have a lot of added sugar in the form of honey, malt, molasses, dried fruit or “even fruit juice”
18/26 Crisps made with real ingredients
Michelin starred chef, Simon Rogan in action cooking a menu inspired by the provenance ingredients in the new Chef’s Signature range from Kettle Chips. Kettle Chips, the nation’s favourite premium crisp brand, has launched the new range of crisps with exciting new seasonings, made with the highest quality food ingredients rather than chemicals or artificial flavours
19/26 Japanese whisky crisis
Suntory’s chief blender Mr. Fukuyo San blends component whiskies to create Suntory Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve, a blend of young and old single malts. Japan’s warm climate and varied seasons makes it perfect environment to age and blend whiskies, creating subtle, refined and complex expressions.The recent trend for Japanese whisky has put the spirit on the verge of a global shortage
20/26 Non-alcoholic cocktails are seriously chic
We are living through a new era of creative, non-alcoholic drinks that go way beyond a coke or sweet mocktail. The world is becoming more health conscious. There's the war on sugar, and teetotalism is on the rise, with more than one in five not drinking at all (especially young adults), according to The National Statistics for Adult Drinking Habits. This abstinence is even more pronounced in London, with almost one in three turning away from alcohol. An increasing number of mixologists are applying their talents to the creation of non-alcoholic drinks that taste as good as their boozy alternatives
21/26 'Heat map' shows which areas of Britain enjoy the spiciest curries
After Bradford was named the Curry Capital of Britain for the fifth year running, a map has been released showing which regions of Britain enjoy a spicy curry and which prefer the milder variants. According to the map developed by Hari Ghotra, Kent, Essex, West Yorkshire and Lancashire are the heat-handling kings of Britain, while Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales all prefer milder curries. The data was collected by monitoring the location of social media posts that mentioned names of curries. These were then given a spice rating and were then collated to give each area a score out of 1000
22/26 Guinness to become vegan-friendly
Guinness is set to become vegan friendly for the first time in its 256-year history, as the company announced its plan to stop using fish bladders in its filters
23/26 Why the salmon on your plate might not actually be salmon
Salmon that ends up on the dinner table may not be salmon at all, a study has suggested. The problem of salmon mislabelling has become an increasing issue in the US in the winter months, according to American research published by Oceana. The findings show that 43 per cent of the salmon tested was mislabelled – the most common instance of this being when farmed Atlantic salmon was sold as wild salmon
24/26 How dangerous is a bacon sandwich
A recent WHO report warning that processed and red meats can cause cancer may have left you thinking a little harder about whether to pick up that bacon butty for breakfast or ditch a beef-filled Bolognese for dinner - but how worried should we be? The review of 800 studies for the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) prompted global health experts to cast processed meats - including bacon, ham and sausages - into the ominous-sounding list of group 1 carcinogens, where they joined formaldehyde, gamma radiation and cigarettes. Eating just a 50g portion of processed meat – or two rashers of bacon - a day increases the risk of bowel cancer by 18 per cent, the experts concluded
25/26 New Zealanders are behind a lot of the interesting food and drink stuff happening in the UK
Dark beers are more suited to cold months, so the thinking goes, but in one part of the world they're always popular. "Lots of breweries in New Zealand have got stouts and porters among their best sellers," says Stu McKinlay, one half of the duo behind Wellington brewing company Yeastie Boys. McKinlay recently swapped Wellington for west Kent in order to launch Yeastie Boys in the UK, and he's joined forces with four other breweries (8 Wired, Renaissance, Three Boys, Tuatara) as part of the New Zealand Craft Beer Collective, to promote his country's finest over here
26/26 Additives in popular chicken nuggets
Ingredients, a new book co-created by photographer Dwight Eschliman and food writer Steve Ettlinger distils 25 products, including popcorn, Red Bull and chicken soup, focusing on 75 of the most common food additives and revealing what each one looks like, where it comes from and why it is used. McDonald’s chicken nuggets were found to contain 40 different ingredients. These included dextrose, a sugar also used by shoe makers to make leather more pliable, and corn starch, used for thickening food as well as also being a substitute for petrol
Place the claw over the food you wish to cut, being sure to keep your fingertips tucked underneath away from the blade.
When cutting the food, rather than pushing it toward the knife, run you fingers over it, using your thumb for support.
Sit the knife alongside your fingers and begin to slice all the way through the food, using the whole length of the knife.
Buying a knife set
Zwilling J A Henckels’ own chef Paul Bough knows everything there is to know about knives. Before you head to the shops to pick up a new set, read his top tips for buying the very best.
“Go for a knife manufactured with high quality steel. The quality and hardness of the steel will dictate how long the sharpness of the cutting edge will last and how easily the knife can be maintained and sharpened.
“Manufacturing and construction is key. Look for a knife that’s fully precision-forged from one piece of steel and a blade that’s been thermally treated. Fully forging a knife gives it strength, plus the weight of the bolster will help with balance and stability, which in turn improves comfort and ease of use during cutting. The right thermal treatment, including ice-hardening, will enhance the steel’s durability, material flexibility and corrosion resistance, meaning your knife will last longer and perform better.
“A good knife needs to be comfortable during prolonged use, so use a knife where any joins between the materials are seamless. This will prevent calluses forming on the hand as there will be no rough or pronounced edges rubbing against the skin. A good knife will have been designed with ergonomics in mind.
“Make sure the range is right for you. Although an all-purpose knife like the chef’s knife is versatile, you may also want specialist knife shapes for certain jobs. Although they’re a similar shape, you wouldn’t use a Chinese chef’s knife as a cleaver to chop through bone and you’d be well advised not to use a slim, flexible filleting knife on hard root vegetables.
“All the above elements add up to one thing: sharpness. A sharp knife is a safe knife as it requires less pressure to cut and is less likely to slip while slicing.”
Care and maintenance
Once you’ve picked out the right knives for your needs, knowing how to look after them will ensure they stay razor-sharp and safe to use. By following just a few simple rules, you can keep them in prime condition – as Paul explains.
“Cleaning and storing your knives in the right way is really important for their proper care and your safety,” he says. “Good knives shouldn’t be exposed to the harsh environment of a dishwasher, where high humidity and aggressive detergents will attack even the highest quality steel; cleaning with warm running water, a little washing-up liquid and a soft cloth or sponge will suffice, and always rinse and dry immediately.”
Keep in mind that there are four different ways to store knives too – chefs will use a roll or case to easily transport their blades, but at home a knife block, magnetic rack or drawer are more common. “If you’re going to keep knives in a drawer, it’s worth investing in sheathes to cover the blades,” explains Paul. “Not only will this prevent the danger of cuts if you reach in without looking, but it will also protect the blade from clashing against other tools in the drawer which could chip or dull the cutting edge.
“Use a bamboo or plastic cutting board which is kind to the edge, not a glass or granite board which will prematurely dull your blade. Maintain your knife with a set of diamond and honing steels, whetstones or a pull through sharpener. This care, coupled with high quality design, manufacturing and materials will give you a sharp knife that will be a companion in the kitchen for years to come.”Reuse content