When it comes to completing kitchen tasks, you won’t get very far without a knife. With the price of premium knives running into hundreds of pounds, choosing the right model for you is something to give due consideration. Food writer Sara Buenfeld explains eight knife types to help you along…
Sara’s four must-have knives
Although I have collected several racks worth of knives over the years, there are some that I reach for every day that cover most kitchen tasks…
Paring knife, also called a vegetable knife
This little knife copes with small or delicate jobs like deveining prawns, seeding chillies, trimming sprouts or coring fruit. You will use this knife mainly when you’re cutting in your hand, rather than on a board. It’s also the knife most likely to be swept away into the bin or compost, so don’t spend a fortune on it!
Read Sara’s review of paring knives
Flexible serrated knife or tomato knife
This is fantastic for peeling oranges and other citrus fruit, and for thinly slicing tomatoes as well as general vegetable prep. The serrated edge means it grips as it slices, and you won’t ever have to sharpen it.
Cook’s or chef’s knife
Read Sara’s review of cook’s knives
Sara’s pick of knives for special tasks
“Knives are a personal reflection of how you cook and eat, so you may find some of the following useful…”
If you eat a lot of fish, this flexible blade (often used on its side) will help you with the sweeping movements you need for filleting, and for removing skin in seconds.
Once, a carving knife and fork was a must-have in most households. The knife blade is fine, sharp and very long, and designed to give even slices of meat.
You don’t have to be a fan of Asian cuisine to find this Japanese-style knife useful. The end is blunt, rather than pointed, and the knife is designed for slicing, dicing and chopping. The ‘granton edge’ (dimples) on the blade help to release thin slices and sticky food.
More buying tips…
Consider the type of metal
The type of metal will affect price and performance.
Stainless steel is the cheapest, but requires regular sharpening.
Carbon steel is hard, more expensive and easier to keep sharp.
Damascus looks amazing as the knife is mottled. This is because a carbon steel core is surrounded by layers of soft and hard stainless steel, creating a knife that is hard and razor sharp.
Try a ceramic blade
Ceramic blades are 10 times harder than carbon steel, yet so much lighter. They also retain their edge for longer, so they don’t need to be sharpened. However, they are more prone to chipping.
Best brands for your budget
Try Victorinox. For a razor-sharp blade at a good price, these knives (from the makers of the original Swiss Army knife) are a good choice. The handles are made from moulded plastic and there’s a wide range of sizes.
Read our review of the best knives for under £40.
Splash out on a model by Kai Shun. You can’t get more special than this Japanese range made from damascus steel and inspired by the samurai sword. Impressively sharp with the distinctive wood-like marking on the blade, they look almost too good to use!
Go for Signature from Robert Welch. This range of award-winning knives is an excellent choice if you want quality at an affordable price. You can tell how much thought has gone in to the design from the tactile handles to the shape, strength and edge of the blade. There are six cook’s knives available – from 12cm blade up to 25cm.
Do you invest in expensive knives, or do you have a budget model you swear by? We’d love to hear your favourites.