What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Kitchen Knives

A vast majority of the meals we eat are home cooked from scratch.  It's funny when I first started out as a newlywed I did not appreciate the importance of descent kitchen knives.  I was quite content to use second hand, yard sale find knives.  The sad part about this is not only did I not know what to look for in a knife but I likely over the years had some very good knives without realizing it.  The end result was I got used to poor quality or improperly maintained knives.  As I learned more about cooking it became quite clear that the leading cause of injuries in the kitchen is a dull knife.

kitchen knives
Over the years I have gradually improved the quality of my kitchen knives and learned how to maintain them.  I've learned what I like and what I don't like in a knife.  I definitely do not storing my knives in a wood block but rather prefer a magnetic strip.  I also learned that my knife needs continue to evolve which means my knife collection tends to change from time to time.

Various knife designs have different purposes and for that reason I don't like knife sets.  What I like is to find the knife that meets my need and most important has a good hand fee.  Pictured are my current knives in action.  The red handled knives are Paderno, the white are Tramotina while the rest are Cuisinart.  The Paderno and Tramotina are press blade knives while the Cuisinart are forged blades.  Forged blade knives have a bolster (blue arrow) to provide balance and control.  The bolster indicates how thick the steel was when it was forged.  Pressed blades do not have a bolster but rather an attached handle.  My pet peeve with pressed blades and the handles is germs can get into that joint leading to contamination.

The blades themselves are very important.  The Tramotina are German high carbon steel.  That means they will keep a sharper edge longer providing they are properly maintained.  If at all possible buy knives with German steeel blades.  The Paderno and Tramotina are NSF (National Santitation Foundation)  certified so they are commercial quality.  I have 2 Santoku knives that have little pockets (red arrow) known as kullens.  These are air pockets designed to prevent food sticking to the knife when cutting.

more knives and sharpener
In additon to the knives on the magnetic strip I have a cleaver (Whiltshire), a couple of heavy duty steak knives and a small paring knife that sees a lot of use.  Not pictured are the various knives that find their way into the cutlery drawer.  I use a hone (steel) to keep the blades straight and and a manual knife sharpener to keep my knifes sharp.

The blade design determines the knife usage which is one reason why I don't recommend buying knife sets.  A 10 pc knife set is lovely but if it comes with a fillet knife that you won't use the knife just collects dust.  A good variety of of knives with different blades is necessary to ensure you have the right knife for the application.  Equally important is the hand feel with respect to handle size, handle fit and knife weight.   An improper handle fit for your hand can cause muscle fatigue.  Those with smaller hands may need smaller handles and even lighter for the knife to feel comfortable without causing fatigue during use.  If there is more than one cook in the kitchen you may gave to do as we do and have knives suited for each cook.

Garden Gnome