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I have a confession: I am not really that great at proper use of my knives. But, since I’ve started this blog, there are certain skills that I have decided I need to improve, including my knife skills. When I started doing research on knives and skills for home chefs, I found some interesting information and decided to share it here. I hope this helps you as much as it has helped me.
The essential knife for all home chefs (and professional ones, but I don’t think they read my blog!) is the chef’s knife. The reason it is so essential is its versatility. You can use your chef knife for about 80 to 90% of the cuts you need to make as a home chef. But, the length of the blade can be intimidating, especially, if you are not sure what you’re doing. Here are some tips on how to use and care for your chef knife.
How to Hold your Chef’s Knife
Hold it high up on the handle (close to the blade).
Place your pointer finger of your dominate hand around the finger guard (the ridge where the blade meets the handle). Your thumb and forefinger should rest on the flat edge of the blade. Your other fingers should fold around the handle. Firmly grip the knife, but don’t choke it.
Parts of your Chef’s Knife and their Uses
The middle part of the blade should be used for most cuts and most foods. Use it for slicing, chopping, rock chopping.
The back of the blade, which is heavier, should be used for thicker, more difficult to cut veggies like carrots and sweet potatoes.
The tip of the blade can be used for finer, more delicate cuts, like scoring or piercing meats or veggies. It should also be used to rest the blade on the cutting board as you slice or chop food.
Use the flat side of the blade to squish garlic or other soft foods that you want to mince or macerate.
Care of your Chef’s 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. My grandfather was a butcher. He taught me that a properly sharpened knife is safer. You are more likely to cut yourself wrestling with your food with a dull knife.
Hone them on a honing steel regularly. Honing does not sharpen the knife, but prolongs the life of the blade and helps your professionally sharpened blades last longer.
A good chef’s knife that is properly cared for can last you forever. It can even be an heirloom that you pass down to your children and their children. And learning how to properly handle your chef’s knife makes cooking more convenient and efficient. If you do not have a chef’s knife, consider purchasing one. You should plan to invest about $100-$150 for a good chef’s knife, like this one from Zelite Infinity. Here’s a more economical option from Victorinox.