Tips & Techniques

Knife Basics

Knowing the names of the parts of a knife will help you in understanding descriptions and instructions.

Parts of a French Sabatier 4 Star Elephant Knife

  • Basically, a knife consists of a blade and a handle.
  • The point (or tip) is the end of the blade used for piercing.
  • The heel is the part of the cutting surface farthest from the point.
  • The cutting edge extends from the point to the heel and the spine is the thickest section of the blade.
  • The bolster (sometimes called the “shank”) is between the handle and the cutting surface of a cooking knife and prevents the hand from slipping.
  • The tang is the part where the handle is affixed to the blade.
  • Full tang means that the tang runs completely through the handle from the bolster to the butt.

 All of our Sabatier Five-Star Elephant knives are full tang.

 

What knives should I own?

For most cooks, a basic set will do. As you develop your skills you will want to add more task specific knives.

A good basic set would include:

A mincing knife – a 2 – 3 1/2 inch knife with a fine sharp tip used for small tasks such as mincing garlic and testing foods for doneness.

An all purpose knife – approximately 4 inches long with a finely tapered tip and broader shank used for small to medium sized tasks. It is probably the most used knife in this size category.

Utility knives – 6 and 8 inch knives following the general chef shape that are used in middle range cutting, that is, foods too large for the 4 inch knife and too small for the chefs knife.

A chefs knife – a 10 and/or 12 inch knife with a less defined tip that increases to a broad base (shank). This knife is essentially designed for the necessary rocking motion used in swift slicing and chopping.

A tomato knife – a small serrated knife used for careful, thin slicing of foods with a stubborn skin such as tomatoes and lemons.

A bread knife – long and deeply serrated knife for sawing or cutting through bread with thick or thin crusts without crushing the loaf

Check out our Starter Set!

 

How To Grip Your Knife

 

Basic Cutting Techniques

We hope these videos get you off to a good start.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Many local cooking schools and continuing education programs offer classes in knife skills.

In the greater Seattle area, you can join one of Bon Vivant School of Cooking‘s monthly Knife Skills Workshops.

 

Tips

  • Select your knife based on the task. You wouldn’t use a mincing knife to cut a watermelon! A 10″ knife will allow you to cut a full bunch of parsley and accomplish a large amount of work on the board at one time.
  • Watch both of your hands while you cut. Pay attention! If you are distracted in any way stop cutting, and put your knife down.
  • Curve the fingers of your “holding” hand inward. Protect your fingers from accidental cutting by keeping them out of the way.
  • Consider your knives as an extension of your arm. They should work together. Use an arm action rather than a wrist action.
  • Do not place your forefinger on the top of the blade as you cut. This restricts your movement.
  • Clean and dry your knife between tasks. You wouldn’t want your strawberries to taste like onions and vice versa.
  • Keep your knives sharp. Whenever your blade begins to feel dull, use your sharpening steel to keep an edge on the task.

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