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The Knife Knowledge series continues with the “food saw” or bread knife. In this series, we covered the most useful Chef’s knife and the small, mighty paring knife. We even covered a non-standard knife, the spreader knife, for fun. The Knife Knowledge series is meant to provide education on knives, not just how to properly use them, but to demonstrate the variety of uses that each one has.
The bread knife is no different. It can be used on a variety of foods (not just bread) that may be “squished” by using a chopping motion or a straight edge knife. The bread knife is a pretty useful tool in the kitchen. Let’s get more acquainted with it.
What is a Bread Knife?
The most common style of bread knife has a long serrated edge. There are many different sizes of serrated knives though. In general, serrated knives are best for foods with a soft inside and a tough outer ‘skin’. The serrated edge easily grips and saws the outside while preventing the inside from “squishing”.
How to Hold your Bread Knife
Grip the handle close to the blade with thumb and other fingers wrapped comfortably, but firmly around the handle. Place your pointer finger along the top (unsharpened) edge of the blade for more control.
Uses of the Bread Knife
Place the serrated edge onto the food you are cutting. Hold the food in your non-dominate hand. Use a sawing, back and forth motion, to slice through the food. Move the knife down toward the cutting board as the serrated edge cuts into the food. Don’t chop or use a forceful down motion. The sawing motion is enough to cut through the food.
Use the serrated knife to cut away the rind of a watermelon or other melon.
The serrated edge is also great for gripping the skin of a tomato, making it easier to get thinner slices.
Slice the tough skin off a pineapple and cut the core out easily with the bread knife.
Care of your Bread Knife
Hand wash your knives with soap and water after use. Never put them in the dishwasher. Washing in the dishwasher will cause the blade to dull faster.
Get your knives professionally sharpened once per year.
Serrated knives must be sharpened with different tools than straight edge knives. Here’s a helpful guide on how to sharpen your bread knife at home.
Learning about the different knives, their uses and care helps home chef’s become more confident in the kitchen. The bread knife, a versatile tool, is not just for slicing bread. Use it to slice melons, tomatoes, pineapple, cakes, tortilla rollups and more!
Bread knives are best with a 10″ blade and a handle that is a little offset so you don’t knock your knuckles into the cutting board while cutting down. You should plan to invest about $10-30 for a quality bread knife, like this one from Victorinox.
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