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Kitchen knives vary in type and style as well as the uses to which they can be put. Some are relatively small yet do cutting tasks which we might assume would be better done with a larger version, and of course, vice-versa. It’s important when choosing a knife or set of knives to be aware of the various functions of different types of kitchen knives and how they will improve your food preparation and even the interior décor of your home. The following article delves into the various different knives.

By the way, if you’re looking to buy a new set of knives, then read my detailed review of the Chicago Cutlery 18-piece Kitchen Knife Set With Maple Block.

Probably the most utilised and popular type of knife is the Chef’s Knife (aka the French knife). This style was originally designed to cut and disjoint great slabs of beef. It’s the most versatile knife you will find in any set and can be used as well for cutting vegetables, mincing, slicing and dicing. Chef’s knives vary somewhat in size but the average and perfectly suitable domestic length would be eight inches (20 cm). These knives do come with varying types of blade edge as well as with different handles, each designed for a myriad of hand sizes and preferences.

The Carving Knife is much thinner than a Chef’s Knife and is used primarily for cutting meats. The thinner blade allows the knife to cut slices of meat much thinner than a regular slice of bread, for instance. There are different versions of the carving knife and these variations are largely based on rigidity and flexibility when it comes to the types of meat that will be cut. In some sets, the carving knife is accompanied by a two-pronged carving fork with which to work the sliced meat.

A Paring knife is one of the smallest knives you’ll find in a knife set. The main function of this style is to peel fruit and vegetables such as apples and potatoes. In some ways it’s also a smaller form of the chef’s knife in that it can be used in a variety of functions. These might include de-veining a shrimp or cutting small garnishes. The Paring knife is usually anything between 6 and 10 cm (2½ and 4 inches) long.

The serrated Bread Knife is a well-known type of knife and can be seen in baker’s shops around the country. As the name suggests, the knife is used predominantly for cutting bread without leading to it being crushed. This is achieved by the serration of the knife which cuts through the loaf without the need for added pressure and muscle power. The knife is simply thrust gently across the bread and the serrated blades do the rest, rather like that of a cross-cut saw in the realm of woodworking. It can also be used in some instances for fibrous fruits and vegetables.

One of the more non-English sounding names is the Santoku Knife which originates in Japan. The name can be translated to ‘three virtues’ or ‘three uses’ and these relate to the three functions the knife was used for which were slicing, dicing and mincing. As with many designs and philosophies from Japan, balance was seen as a key ingredient and this is certainly the case with the Santoku Knife. It’s blade and handle where both kept the same weight and thus created an equal distribution throughout the complete length. The knife can be used to cut through meats (including thin-bones) and vegetables and is between 12 cm to 18 cm (5 to 7 inches) long. It’s interesting to note too the increasing popularity of this type of knife in Western kitchens.

Most of these can be found in the Chicago Cutlery Knife Set.