Buy to keep: maintain your chef's knife

Sure, you can buy a dozen kitchen knives to do everything from slicing to paring to chopping. Here's how to pick your number one, and how to choose one that will last a long time.

Buy to keep: maintain your chef's knife

Length and shape

  • A knife with a 20-centimetre (eight-inch) blade is long enough to slice through a large roast or quickly chop up a large onion, yet handy enough to let you deftly mince garlic.
  • A good chef's knife has a curved blade so you can chop and mince with a quick rocking motion.

Handle

  • The part of a blade that joins it to the handle is called the tang.
  • For strength and durability, look for a tang that goes completely through the handle and is attached with rivets through the side.
  • In most full-tang knives, the handle is in two pieces, one attached to each side of the tang.
  • The handle should be made of hardwood or good-quality plastic, and it should be smooth all around, with the rivets perfectly flush to the handle.

Blade

  • Get a blade made of high-carbon steel; it will stay sharp and be easy to clean. The best and most expensive models are forged.
  • These knives have a thicker area between the knife and handle called a bolster. This extra steel makes the knife more balanced and easier to use when chopping.
  • Knives can also be stamped from a sheet of high-carbon steel. This makes a fine knife, but stamping precludes a bolster.
  • The most important thing is that the knife you choose feels comfortable and balanced in your hand — you might even prefer a knife without a bolster.
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