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Making The Cut: The Facts About Cutlery

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

In life we all want to be a cut above the rest, and in the kitchen it’s equally as important to have utensils that are literally a cut above. In face, have a knife with a cutting edge can make your prep work go a little faster and a little easier

Experts suggest investing in quality cutlery, that will last you for years, rather than a cheap “imitation” that you’ll have to replace more frequently.

They recommend a forged, high-carbon, stain-resistant, steel–blade knife that is rigid, durable, and heavy, but light to maneuver and balance in your hand.

According to culinary professionals, a good knife is measured in the strength of the metal and its ability to sustain a sharp edge. In fact, they note that a dull knife can be just as dangerous, if not more so than a sharp blade, especially since it may slip when you force it to cut.

Here are just a few basics to look for:

1. Blades That Are A Cut Out For The Job: The best knives are those that are forged (hammered) or stamped for a selection of high-carbon, stain resistant steel, which allows it (the blade) to retain its sharp edge and also sharpen quite easily. And, it should feature a full tang (the end of the blade extending all or most of the way through the handle) for added balance and strength.

Cheaper varieties are usually made of stainless steel, making them very rigid and sharp, but often lack the weight, balance, and craftsmanship of higher quality, more expensive versions.

2. Getting A Handle On It: Knife handles should be heat-proof, water-resistant, and plastic to prevent them from warping, chipping, cracking, or peeling. However, if you prefer wood-handled knives avoid soaking to prevent damaging the wood finish.

3. Cutting Edge Care: Hand-wash your favorite cutlery in steamy, soapy water, using a cloth or plastic scouring sponge…and only place it in the washer it it’s clearly labeled as dishwasher safe, otherwise it can be damaging to both the blade and the handle.

Remember to immediately dry the blade and handle with a clean towel and place the knife back in its “home”, sometimes after rubbing a bit of cooking oil into the blade.

Always use a cutting board when using a knife, plastic (polyethylene) is recommended for meats and poultry, it doesn’t crack and is dishwasher safe.

4. The Sharper Image: The best way to sharpen your blade is using a whetstone (a honing block used in conjunction with cooking oil or water), a professional-style grinding wheel or by giving it out to the pros….and some still drive around neighborhoods offering the service.

Make sure to always keep knives sharp by tending to them frequently via a sharpening steel, a ridged rod made of diamond-coated steel or ceramic.

A. Place the sharpening steel vertically with the tip pressed against a stable cutting surface. Lean the knife-edge near the handle at a 20-degree angle to the steel near the sharpening steel's handle.

B. Using a uniform, smooth, slow motion, draw the knife blade gently down the full length of the steel, pulling the knife toward you as it moves down the steel.

C. Once you’ve completed the stroke, the tip of the blade -- still at an angle -- should be near the tip of the steel. Repeat with the other side of the knife blade.

Cutlery Considerations: A list of some of the key cutlery you should have on hand.

· Chef’s Knife: This traditional tool also commonly referred to as a French knife is designed for chopping and slicing, with a curved blade that rocks to and fro, for speed and “accuracy”.

· Bread Knife: Many offer a jagged edge to make it easy to cut through the
crust as well as through the doughy center. This knife can also be used effectively for slicing and dicing tomatoes.

· Carving (Slicing) Cutlery: These knives are meant to cut through bone in meats and poultry and feature a long-bladed, round tip.

· Boning Blade: Generally narrow and curvy coming to a point, this knife simplifies cutting around bones. It is most commonly used to separate meat, poultry, and fish from the bone.

· Pairing Knife: A typically all-purpose knife used for trimming meats, light chopping and slicing and peeling fruits and veggies.

Safety Suggestions:

1. Cut AWAY from you. Only use knives for cutting not as other appliances such as openers or screwdrivers.
2. Cut ONLY on a secure service. Place a towel under your cutting board to keep it firmly in place.
3. Sharpen knives often: Remember, a dull blade can be more dangerous than a sharp one.
4. NEVER soak you knives. Unless otherwise stated, refrain from placing in the dishwasher and avoid soaking. Instead wash and rinse immediately. Keep in mind that soapy water can dull a blade and cause a wooden handle to chip of split, and having sharp edges “hiding” under soapy water can be hazardous.
5. Get a good grip: And, remember to hold the blade away from you, especially as you cut and slice.
6. Carry knives blade facing down: Also store knives blade down
7. Keep blades covered: invest in knife covers, racks, sheaths or blocks. Or, if you store in a drawer compartment, keep them separate.
8. WAIT: If you drop a knife, wait until it lands before you attempt to grab it or pick it up.

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