Paring Knife - Different Kinds of Knives
The kitchen paring knife is quite small in size, typically about 6 to 10 cm long (or a length of between 2 ½ and 4 inches). Designed with a plain edge, a paring knife is intended to be all-purpose, just like chef's knife but smaller in size. A paring knife can be an extension of the hand because of its size and lightness.
It is mainly used for peeling fruits and vegetables, and slicing small ingredients. Because it can be used in controlled and detailed cutting, a paring knife is also used in de-veining shrimps, removing seeds from jalapeño peppers, and cutting shapes/designs for small garnishes.
The so-called ‘French' paring knives are 2 types of paring knife: one with slightly rounded cutting end, and the other one a sharp angled end. These knives are used for paring leathers. The knife with rounded end is used for scraping; while the one with angled end is used for direct cutting. Both knives are ground with deep bevel on upper side and with the underside left flat.
The paring knife with the cutting edge on an angle has the point squared off -- to prevent slitting the leather. It is also quicker than the paring knife with the rounded edge in taking down thickness of leather.
A paring knife is designed to be short, sharp, and pointed for easy handling while peeling or mincing. The diminutive size of the knife high-carbon stainless steel blade is lightweight but the handle is made of polypropylene and deliberately designed to be heavy which allows better control when in use.
How to Choose a Paring Knife
The best paring knife is forged and made of high-carbon stainless steel.
Types of kitchen paring knives include:
Spear Point Parer - with an edge similar to chef's knife, which can be used for light chopping;
Bird's Beak Parer - used to trim small and spherical-shaped vegetables;
Miniature Boning Knife - has an S-shape and used to bone the meat of small birds;
Sheep's Foot Parer - resembles an animal's hoof and mainly used for peeling and paring; and,
Clip Point Parer - has a cutting edge that curves gently upwards and normally used for cleaning unwanted parts of fruits and vegetables. Note: This paring knife is better as stamped than forged.
The secret about efficient paring is in the sharpness of the paring knife. A dull knife will not cut and will just cause much damage.
Choosing a Paring Knife
How to Sharpen a Knife
Different sharpening tools:
- Diamond Sharpening
- Stone Rotating Sharpening Stone
- Diamond Sharpening Steel (or Butcher's Sharpening Steel)
- Electric Knife Sharpener
How to Use Sharpening Stone or Steel:
- Most stones are whetstones (also called snakestones) so they require light coating of oil or water. Both oil and water help cut and keep the steel cool during sharpening. It is best to put the whetstones in water to remove air from inside them.
- For very dull knife, start sharpening on the rough side of the stone (or steel).
- Hold the knife's blade at a constant angle of 20 degrees to the stone. Make light even strokes, with same number of strokes of each side of the whole blade, from heel to tip.
- Use sharpening steel often so sharpening the knife on stone will be done rarely. Sharpening steel does not sharpen the knife but it helps put a fine hone on a sharp edge.
- Do not over-sharpen the knife. Test the knife by cutting a piece of paper to ribbons.
How to Sharpen a Knife
The ‘Arkansas Tri-Hone Sharpening Stones System’ by Smith is mounted in a plastic triangle mold with handles on each end that rotate to show one stone at a time. This sharpening system consists of medium, fine, and coarse surfaced stones. Also included are a bottle honing solution and angle guide for sharpening knives.
How to Use a Paring Knife
- Put fruits and vegetables in a colander to drain after thorough washing. Use clean cutting board.
- Hold the handle of paring knife with right hand (or left - if left-handed). Using the free hand, hold the fruit to be peeled (or cut/sliced) on the cutting board. With small fruit/vegetable, hold it while peeling.
- Carefully cut into food by pressing down gently and in a slicing motion. Place the forefinger at the back of the blade to help control the knife.
- For cutting, peeling, or removing fruit from rinds - use the length of the blade as much as possible. For digging cuts (cutting out strawberry stems and removing potato eyes), use the sharp tip of the knife.
How to Use a Paring Knife
How to Maintain Sharpness of Paring Knives
- Store knives in a wooden knife block. Do not keep them in drawers where the blade can be chipped by other kitchen utensils. Otherwise, always put a plastic knife guard to protect the blade.
- A classy and efficient way to store knives is on a magnetic holder secured on the wall. A magnetic knife holder may be expensive but it will look great on the walls of indoor or outdoor kitchens.
- To keep from dulling, do not use the blade of paring knife to scrape up food on the cutting board. Use the back of the blade instead.
- Hand-wash all knives, using sponge and soap. Do not machine wash to prevent denting the sharp blade.
Different Materials of Handles for Knives
- Wood - Considered as most attractive with good grip but must be thoroughly cleaned because wood can harbor microorganisms.
- Plastic - Lighter than most materials but may be slippery to hold.
- Composite - Considered as best choice because handle is sanitary as plastic and has the good grip of wood.
- Stainless Steel - Most durable and sanitary of all handles but slippery to hold and quite heavy.
2 Ways to Manufacture Steel Blades:
- Forged - requires manual labor. Chunk of solid steel alloy is heated and pounded while hot to form it. Blade is heated, quenched, tempered to desired hardness, polished, and then sharpened.
- Stamped - are often identified by absence of bolster. Blade is cut directly from cold rolled steel, heat-treated, ground, polished, and then sharpened.
- A - Point: end of knife used for piercing or digging
- B - Tip: first third of blade used for small cutting work
- C - Edge: cutting of knife extending from Point and Heel (edge may be beveled or symmetric)
- D - Heel: rear part of blade used for cutting that require force
- E - Spine: thick portion on top of the blade that adds weight and strength
- F - Bolster: thick metal part that joins handle and blade (adds weight and balance, too)
- G - Finger Guard: portion of Bolster that keeps the hand from slipping onto the blade
- H - Return: point between Heel and Bolster
- J - Tang: part of metal blade extending into handle (adds stability and extra weight to knife)
- K - Scales: Handle materials attached on both sides of Tang (wood, plastic, or composite)
- L - Rivets: metal pins that hold Scales to the Tang
- M - Handle Guard: lip below butt of handle (gives knife better grip)
- N - Butt: terminal end of handle
Chinese chef's knife (also known as ‘Chinese cleaver') has rectangular shape and all-purpose knife used in China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and other Asian countries. Its thin blade is designed for slicing, chopping, and mincing vegetables, fish, and boneless meats.
Different Types of Kitchen Knives
The kitchen knife is any knife used to prepare foods. A few are designed to perform multi-purpose tasks but many knives are intended to do specific tasks.
- Chef's knife - all-purpose knife, curved to allow the knife to rock on cutting board for more precise cut
- Bread knife - serrated knife, ideal for cutting bread and other food with hard surface but soft interior
- Paring knife - a small knife, similar to chef's knife, with plain edge for peeling
- Utility knife - size is between chef's knife and paring knife, too fragile for heavy tasks but not suited to fine cutting
How to Properly Use a Kitchen Knife
Lobster Splitter - light-duty cleaver used for shellfish and fowl
Different Types of Meat Knives
- Carving knife - large knife used to slice thin cuts of meat
- Slicing knife - maybe plain or serrated, designed to precisely cut thinner and smaller slices of meat
- Cleaver knife - large and rectangular knife used to split meat and bone
- Boning knife - used to remove bones from cuts of meat
- Fillet knife - like a boning knife but used to fillet fish
- Ham slicer - thinner and more flexible slicer, used to cut hams
Different Kinds of Cheese Knives
- Soft cheese knife - has holes in the blade to prevent cheese from sticking, used for slicing soft cheese
- Hard cheese knife - often has forked tip and can cut exact slices, used to slice hard cheese
- Parmesan cheese knife - has short and thick blade designed to slice very hard cheese
Different Types of Small Knives
- Peeling knife - also known as bird's beak knife or Tourne knife, used to cut decorative garnishes (tomato rosettes and fluted mushrooms)
- Decorating knife - any knife with decorative blade used for making garnishes with fancy cuts
- Trimming knife - has small and curved blade used to decorating and peeling
- Fluting knife - has small and very straight blade, also used for decorating and peeling
- Santoku knife - (also called as Asian chef's knife) has straighter edge and thinner spine than ordinary chef's knife, with blunt sheep's-foot-tip blade. Made from superior blade steels, the lighter and thinner Santoku knife can easily cut boneless meats, fish, and vegetables.
- Usuba knife - resembles the cleaver knife but much lighter, used mainly for chopping vegetables.
- Deba knife - has long blade with curved spine, used for cutting fish.
Different Specialty Knives
- Tomato knife - with serrated blade used for cutting through soft skin and flesh of tomatoes
- Oyster knife - (also known as clam knife) has short and thick blade used to pry open oyster shells and separate meat from inside
- Deveiner knife - used to remove ‘vein' from back of shrimp
- Grapefruit knife - has long, flat and serrated blade used to separate flesh of grapefruit from peel and inner membranes
- Chestnut knife - has shallow blades used to score the skin of chestnut with X-shaped cut before roasting to avoid steam build-up
- Mincing knife (also known as ‘Mezzaluna,' meaning ‘half moon') has semi-circular blade used for mincing and large mezzaluna-like knife is sometimes used for cutting pizza
- Tourner knife - (also known as bird's beak or peeling knife) has short and curved blade used to peel, and to make seven-sided cut or football-shaped cut to make garnishes from vegetables
This Granton Edge Santoku Knife is 7-inch long by Victorinox that has the feature of a chef’s knife. The flutes along the Granton knife blade enables cutting paper-thin slices and prevents food from sticking. The Fibrox handle has texture that resist slipping and gives balance as well as comfort. Approved by NSF.
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Every knife has a specific use and you should use the proper knife for every cutting task. Selecting good quality knives is very important, a knife should fit your hand, be quite comfortable and should only be used for it's intended task.
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