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Shopping Guide: Knife Set
Everyone says the world starts opening up when you learn how to cook. You start learning new flavors, recognizing certain spices, and you might even add a few ingredients into your famed Ramen noodle recipe.
But, you might soon realize that you can’t cut everything with a butter knife.
As you start adding to your kitchen collection, a knife set might be the most essential and helpful thing you can add to your arsenal. There’s nothing more irritating than taking longer than necessary to chop an onion. In fact, that irritation can easily deter you from ever cooking again.
Don’t let your lack of sharp, dependable knives keep you from the kitchen.
First, What Makes a Knife a Knife
Knives seem like they’d all be pretty similar: Big, sharp blade and a handle. But when you see the price tags of knives that start reaching into the several hundred dollar range, you should start re-evaluating what makes a knife “good.”
To start, a knife can either be forged or stamped. A forged construction will be heartier, heavier, and sturdier. When a knife is forged, it is actually shaped from one piece of steel by heat, hammering, or other forms of shaping.
When a knife is stamped, the steel is cut from a bigger sheet of material. While it’s a common thought to consider forged construction to be more reliable, manufacturers like Victorinox can easily compete in top blade construction with their stamped blades. Stamped blades will typically be lighter and easier to carry and the heel of the blade will not be as wide.
Tang, That’s Good
You may or may not remember the Tang powder that pretended to be orange juice back in the ‘90s. It was advertised with the help of a space monkey. Well, the tang of a knife does not involve powder or monkeys.
All of our picks have a full-tang blade, but it’s important to be able to discern when a blade is half-tang or full-tang.
What is a tang if not an adorable monkey promoting orange powder, you ask? A tang is the portion of the steel or blade that extends into the handle of a knife. When you hold a knife, you’re essentially holding a padded form of the blade.
A blade is formed as one piece, and that includes the tang. Then, a handle is constructed around the tang.
Have you ever wondered why knife handles have little metal circles on each side? Those are rivets that help the handle stay on the blade.
A half-tang knife is not as sturdy as a full-tang knife, however, they will usually be more affordable. Since there is less weight to balance out the blade, the overall control of the knife can be compromised.
No Two Knife Users are the Same
If you’re upgrading from a butter knife, then you’re a different knife user than a cilantro chopper looking to upgrade their collection. One is looking for efficiency, the other is looking for precision.
For someone just getting into cooking and chopping things up, it’s important to find a knife set you can easily grip and hold on to. As you’re learning, you’ll find your hands will be covered in oils and liquids. While you’re finding your rhythm and cooking style, it’s important to maintain your safety and be in complete control of the tools you’re using.
You’ll note in our top 10 picks which knives are more in tune with ergonomic needs than others. We suggest you pick these out as you shop since you’ll want to love the feel of the knife more than anything.
After all, you don’t want to find any more excuses not to start cooking up a storm.
For the chefs who already have some experience with cutting and slicing, precision and performance might be the big key behind your shopping. Perhaps you want a heavier knife that can take on the tougher jobs. If that’s the case, find a knife with forged construction and an easy to grip bolster for cutting through root vegetables.
In each of our top 10 picks, we’ve noted how manufacturers constructed each of these blades, making it easier for you to make the best decision.
There are so many holidays and family gatherings coming up, and it’s your chance to contribute to this year’s meals. Even if you’re doing less cooking and instead imparting your newly found knife knowledge, you’ll still be a hoot around the table. With a new knife set, you’ll be spending less time chopping, cursing, and yelling at your cutting board and more time with family. Vegetables don’t have to be an arch nemesis anymore, and those tough meats aren’t so tough when faced with a sharp high-carbon blade.
Compare our top 10 knife sets so you can get to finely chopping those garnishes in no time.
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