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There's an almost overwhelming choice of knives on the market, and knowing which ones to buy can be bewildering. We've made it easier for you to make the right choice by breaking down which knives are best for which tasks, so whether you're looking to fill a gap in your collection or want to buy a complete set, you'll find a range for every budget and skill level.
Choosing the right knife will make all your chopping, slicing and dicing jobs much easier and safer. So check out our list below to find out which knives you'll need for the best results.
Use the weighty blade of a cleaver for tougher jobs like chopping large cuts of meat or dividing spare ribs. The sharp tip can be used to cut through the flesh, then push down on the heel and use the weight of the blade to break through smaller bones and tough sinew.
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A long, narrow knife with a flexible blade and a pointed end that's perfect for preparing whole fish, separating the flesh from the bones with minimal waste
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With a slim, sturdy blade, tapering to a sharp point, a boning knife is ideal for trimming muscle and precisely cutting around the bone without damaging the meat.
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If you only buy one knife, make it a chef's knife. This kitchen workhorse is the one you'll turn to most – its wide blade and tapered point can be used for chopping, slicing and dicing almost anything.
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With a sharp, serrated edge that will saw through loaves or cake without squashing, it's also just the thing for slicing pineapple or watermelon.
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A super-sharp carving knife will do most of the hard work for you when you're carving the Sunday roast. Its long, thin blade means you can cut large pieces of meat into thin, even slices. No wonky wedges here.
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A cross between a cleaver and a chef's knife, santoku ('three ways' in Japanese) knives have scalloped indents on their wide blades to stop food sticking when you're cutting, and the rounded tip aids balance when chopping.
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As its name implies, it's a general purpose knife for everyday tasks. Bigger than a paring knife but smaller than a chef's knife, it can be used for everything from chopping herbs and slicing meat to cutting sandwiches.
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Ideal for smaller everyday jobs such as chopping garlic, herbs and mushrooms, peeling and coring vegetables, deseeding chillies or scraping vanilla seeds from the pod.
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The saying "a sharp knife is a safe knife" really is true. A knife with a dull blade is more likely to slip off food, rather than cut through it, and regular sharpening is imperative to keep your knives at their optimum performance level.
So you can just pop to the shop and buy any old knife sharpener, right? Wrong. It's important to know what type of knives you have, Asian-style or European, and to buy the appropriate sharpener, because using the wrong sharpener can cause more damage than not sharpening at all.
What's the difference? Well, when a knife is sharpened, small amounts of metal are removed from dull blades to restore the sharp edge. Honing is slightly different as it doesn't remove metal, but simply realigns and straightens the edge of a blade that's already sharp.
Ideally, you should sharpen your knives little and often, depending on how much you use them. Sharpening them too regularly will wear the blades down more quickly, shortening their life. But you can hone your blades with a sharpening steel every time you use them.
If you're a confident cook, professional-grade sharpening tools like the Lakeland 10" Fine Sharpening Steel and the Lakeland Whetstone Sharpener are great if you like to sharpen and hone your knives the traditional way – but it's important you know what you're doing, as you need to get the angle right to keep the blade aligned or it will lose its effectiveness.
Most standard knife sharpeners are designed to sharpen European-style knives, but double-check before buying. Simple to use, just run your blade through the mechanism to sharpen your blades – some have a built-in honing tool, too. Our AnySharp Knife Sharpener can be used on both straight and serrated blades.
Most ceramic wheel sharpeners come with a water reservoir, like the Global Knife Sharpener, which keeps the blade cool and increases the efficiency of the sharpener.
If you have a mixture of Asian and European-style knives in your kitchen, you'll need an International Knife Sharpener, which has two sets of sharpeners and honing rods, one for Asian-style blades and one for European blades.
Always remember to check if your sharpener is suitable for both serrated and straight-edged blades, as some will damage serrated knives.
If your knives are a brand, such as Robert Welch Signature or Global, your best bet is to buy the same branded sharpener, as it will be tailor-made to match the angle of the blades.
Stainless steel blades are rust-resistant but not rustproof, so if you regularly leave them in the dishwasher overnight, they'll develop rust spots. These can be removed with a dab of Maas Metal Polish and a rinse in warm, soapy water, but it's best to always wash your knives by hand and dry them straightaway.
If you've been slicing acidic foods like lemons and limes, rinse the blades as soon as you're done to prevent damage.
High-carbon blades are more prone to rust spots, so make sure you dry them properly before putting them away.
And one more thing – don't just chuck your knives in a drawer with the rest of the cutlery. The blades will dull quicker and there's a risk you'll cut yourself. Keep them in a knife block if possible.
When it comes to chopping and cutting like a professional chef, using the right knife is only half the story. You'll also need a hard-wearing, non-slip chopping board to work on. And it just so happens, we've got plenty for you to choose from.
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Got your knives? Good. In the videos below, we’ve teamed up with the White Pepper Cookery School to show you a few techniques to get the best out of them – so you’ll soon be chopping, carving and slicing with confidence.
There's a lot more to a knife than meets the eye...
Lower-priced knives are usually made from stainless steel with a low carbon content, and as a result will need sharpening more often to maintain their sharp edge.
More expensive than stainless steel knives, carbon steel knives have a higher carbon content so it's easier to keep their blades sharp. Click here to see our full range.
Exceptionally hard yet incredibly lightweight, ceramic blades retain their sharp edge for much longer than stainless steel and glide through whatever you're slicing. You'll need to take extra care with ceramic blades as they're more prone to chipping, and they can be trickier to sharpen.
With the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any metal, titanium is combined with other materials such as diamond, silver or ceramic to create a knife that's extremely lightweight yet highly durable. As a result, titanium knives tend to be more expensive than other knives.
Don't know your ice-hardened from your taper-ground? Our jargon-busting guide will help.
Ice hardening is a process where the steel is cryogenically frozen after it's forged to change the molecular structure of the steel, resulting in a much harder metal that stays sharp for longer.
Japanese steel is famous for its quality and hardness and the knives made with it typically have thinner blades. But that doesn't make them weaker – they're usually ice-hardened so they're incredibly hard and durable. The thinner blades are also extremely sharp to make prep easier, and they stay sharp for longer too, so won't need sharpening as often as other knives.
High-quality and favoured by many knife makers for its superior strength, German steel makes knives that are thick, sturdy and reliable, which is why you'll find them in many professional kitchens. They will need regular sharpening to keep them at their best.
A taper-ground blade is made from a single sheet of metal, and decreases in size from the handle to the tip. Ideal for heavy use, the super-sharp blade will cut cleanly and evenly.
You may have seen Rockwell Hardness Rating or HR written on a knife set and wondered what the random numbers next to it meant. Materials are tested by being hit with a diamond to see how large the indentation left is – simply put, the smaller the indentation, the harder the material and the higher the HR number. A higher HR number denotes a harder, better quality steel; however, looking for the highest number isn't always best. Blades with a very high rating (70 or above) will be more brittle and difficult to maintain, while a low HR blade (below 50) will need a lot more sharpening to keep it efficient, so you are best looking for something in the middle, between 50 and 60.
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