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Different types of kitchen knives and their uses

Updated on October 31, 2015

I like watching cooking shows, especially shows of Curtis Stone, Jaime Oliver and Iron Chefs, I have notice one thing in common with the chefs they have a very good knife skills, Well, I guess it comes with the job. A chef should know which knife to use for a particular job, how to use the selected knife safely, efficiently and also how to maintain it.

In my opinion you don’t need to be a chef to know all the different types of knife, just like me I am not a chef by profession, I am a mother who spent a lot of my time in the kitchen, I have a lot of knives in my kitchen drawer, I may not know all the correct name for a particular knife but I know their uses. Knives have many different purposes and have been designed accordingly in different shapes and sizes.

Here is a list of different types of knives and their uses. So open your kitchen drawer and see if you have these knives.

Paring knife. Every kitchen should have a paring knife.

A multipurpose knife used for small jobs such as topping and tailing vegetables, removing skins from onions and preparing small fruits.

Turning knife. You won’t always find these in home kitchen but an essential if you are making a unique style presentation.

A turning knife has a very small curved blade designed to ‘turn” vegetables into a barrel shape for presentation purposes.

Filleting knife. A filleting knife has a medium-length blade that is narrow and flexible so it can bend while running along the bone structure of fish, particularly flat fish.

Boning knife. A boning knife has a short to medium blade that is pointed at the end.

It should be strong and rigid, not flexible like a filleting knife. The point is designed to get close to bones and cut away the meat.

General Chef’s Knife. This is my favorite knife. It is a multi-purpose knife.

It can be used on many different commodities such as vegetables, fruits, meat and poultry.

The knife can be used across a variety of cutting techniques, including chopping, dicing shredding and slicing.

Palette knife. This knife is not designed for cutting purposes. It is blunt but flexible, it is used for manoeuvring around tricky situations. For example: it is used to turn items over during the cooking process for example sautéed potatoes. It is also used for lifting food from the pan to plate.

The second use is spreading, for example butter to bread, cream to a cake. A palette knife is usually fairly long, although they vary quite a lot in length and is flexible so it can get underneath food items.

Carving knife. It has a long, thin blade, the knife should be very sharp to ensure neat, accurate and efficient cutting.

It usually comes with a carving fork which is larger and stronger than a standard fork. It is designed to support the meats while they are being carved.

Serrated knife. This knife comes with serrated edges are designed to slice certain foods like bread or vegetables with firm skins such as tomatoes and capsicums.

Serrated knife have a long thin blade to assist in the sawing type motion required when slicing.

Knife Safety

Knives are particularly dangerous pieces of equipment if used incorrectly, however they are essential item for anyone working in the kitchen. Here are some reminders :

  • Always place a knife on the bench to give to another person, rather that pass it by hand to the person.
  • Never hold knives in the air or hold them with fingers overlapping the cutting zone.
  • Don't use the knife as a screwdriver or can opener.
  • Don't wave a knife around, point with it or turn around with it in your hand. Place on the bench and then turn to talk to others.
  • Never transport food on the blade of a knife.
  • Never leave knives in sinks or under items. Blades are a hazards when not in a visual range.
  • Always keep the knives separate and individually contained, wrapped or held with the point of the knives secured, this includes in your toolbox or even in the picnic basket. Never hide knives under anything.

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