Know Your Knives

Vivre sa maison

To each knife blade a different function

As you probably imagined, each different knife blade has a specific purpose. Knowing this will make your work in the kitchen more efficient, facilitating otherwise complex operations.

The vegetable knife has a thin, lightweight, wide and very sharp blade

for precisely cutting very thin slices of fruit and vegetables.

The chef's knife
This is the knife you will use the most because it is multi-functional.

It has an ample but rigid blade, curved along its entire length with a sharp point.

You can use it for filleting, chopping, cubing, mincing or for crushing spices with the flat side of the blade (in the photo, right, the first knife).
The paring knife
It's smaller and ideal for delicate or precision jobs such as peeling potatoes, removing spots from fruit or vegetables, scraping, crushing garlic or parsley, removing the cores of apples or pears, cutting ingredients for garnishes, etc.
It's about 8 to 10 cm long, with a straight or serrated blade and is also common in its typical "bird's beak" shape (the second knife).
The serrated or bread knife
It allows you to easily cut foods that have thick crusts or skins, from bread to caramelized sweets to melons, etc.
Its solid, toothed blade can be from 13 to 23 cm, long enough for cutting slices from long or wide loaves of bread (the third knife).
Because of the serrated knife's characteristics it will have disastrous effects on meat, fish or soft fruit, so it's best to avoid using this type of knife on these foods.
The vegetable knife
This knife has a thin, lightweight, wide and very sharp blade (from 18 to 22 cm long) for precisely cutting very thin slices of fruit and vegetables.
It's easily recognized because of its squared off shape and for the almost flat line of the blade, both ergonomically efficient.
Like a fulcrum, the point of the knife stays braced against the cutting board while the cutting edge quickly slices, chops and dices fruit, spices, vegetables, etc. (the fourth knife in the photo, right).
Some special knives

With the four knives listed above you can handle just about anything in the kitchen. Still other types of knives do exist for even more specific purposes, designed for working on single foods or for a single phase of food preparation.
- The boning knife. Useful if you often have to clean fish, chicken or beef. It can have a flexible blade (ideal for chicken) or a firm and rigid blade (for other kinds of meat); it is small and very pointed.
- The fillet knife. It has a thin, slightly curved and flexible blade and must always be very sharp. It must be able to easily slice chicken or prepare fish for cleaning.
- The carving knife. It has a narrow point and its blade measures from 20 to 38 cm. It can have a rigid blade (for steaks, ribs, roasts) or a flexible blade for thinner meats (ham, roast chicken and turkey, smoked or dried fish, etc.). Often it is used together with a carving fork to anchor the meat while cutting (photo left).
- The cleaver or butcher's knife. It's recognizable by it's wide, heavy hard blade. It's used for cutting large bones, preparing poultry, meat and fish. The flat side of the blade is also used for crushing seeds, garlic, etc.

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