Thursday, October 8, 2020
When any beginner chef or home cook receives their first set of knives or one knife in particular, they are told to use it, keep it clean and well protected, and in return it will serve them with years of reliability. When a high quality knife is properly cared for, it becomes a dependable tool that serves its purpose by providing a top notch performance with every use.
Knives are the most essential, primary tools of the cooking industry -- most prep work is done using a knife, dishes are finished using a knife, so on and so forth. Knives get the most use out of any other kitchen tools. So, buying kitchen knives should be an investment to ensure you’re buying a high quality set that will last and prove its worth -- however, this investment doesn’t need to break the bank.
As long as you’re buying from a reputable brand, the life expectancy and number of uses you will get out of your knives falls into your hands. This means, if you spend the money to buy a high quality set of knives, but don’t consistently sharpen them, then they will not last long. The key to making a set of knives last is to properly care for them. Proper care means consistent sharpening, washing with each use, secure storage to guarantee the blade won’t be damaged, and a drive to follow these standards.
If you’re up for the task of properly caring for these tools, then you will receive a loyal and trustworthy set of knives that will be your go-to utensils for all of your cooking tasks. Think of it as an investment for your own enjoyment. Now, let’s discuss how to get top-rated knives without going over $100:
- What Types of Knives do I Need?
- The Best Knives Under $100
What Knives are Right for Me?
If you ask any professional chef what their number one choice would be out of all knives, they would most likely select a chef’s knife. This is because chef’s knives can accomplish all tasks such as slicing, dicing, julienning, chopping, etc. A chef’s knife is a large all-purpose tool that can do it all -- slice through a watermelon, cut through bone, and even fulfill smaller prep tasks, like slicing garnishes. For these reasons, a chef’s knife is a necessary piece of equipment to add to your collection.
The next knife you’ll need is a paring knife. The small blade is ideal for accomplishing the tasks that are too small for a chef’s knife. This can be considered the finely detailed prep work. A paring knife will work great for dicing and mincing small herbs like garlic and ginger. This knife is also a great beginner knife because of the small size -- it feels more comfortable in your hand and looks less daunting than a chef’s knife.
The third essential knife is a serrated knife. Unlike the other two we’ve covered, this knife has a scalloped edge as opposed to a smooth one. The serrated blade makes it a great tool for gripping and slicing through tough or waxy surfaces with soft and easily crushed insides. This knife will be your go-to for slicing through bread and tough fruits and vegetables. It is also a great tomato knife, and will grip the edges of a pineapple too.
The fourth knife, a utility knife is a useful tool to have on hand, but you can get away with saving this one for a second purchase when you feel more comfortable using knives. A utility knife combines the best of both worlds -- a paring knife and a chef’s knife. This knife is a mid sized version of both, bigger than a paring knife, but smaller than a chef’s knife. It is also a multi purpose tool that can accomplish most of your prep tasks -- slicing, dicing, mincing, chopping, julienning, etc.
Our last choice, a nakiri knife is a fun luxury knife to have on hand when you want to chop all the way through an ingredient and down to the cutting board without having to slice back and forth. This knife provides a one and done chop with one single motion. The thin, square blade is unique to slicing paper thin meats and softer vegetables. Grab this when you’re ready to fully upgrade your knife collection.
Knives Under $100
Coming in at $59.99, this 8 inch Damascus steel chef’s knife is the most expensive on our list. The quality of this knife can be seen from its manufacturing process -- crafted from 67 layers of Damascus steel, followed by vacuum heat treatment, then cryogenic treatment for extra durability. The handle, made from Pakkawood, is sealed and resists moisture so you can feel secure, safe, and confident using this knife because it will not slip or become loose in your hand. The handle is also gently bowed with your comfort in mind so it feels natural and comfortable in the palm.
This knife will be your go-to for most prep tasks as it is recommended for all-purpose tasks -- slicing, dicing, chopping, and deboning. The heavy-duty blade will quickly and easily accomplish nearly all prep tasks.
For $26.99, this Damascus steel paring knife will be a great companion for your chef’s knife. Together, the two knives will cost $86.98, so both can be purchased for under $100. These two knives will go hand in hand because if the chef’s knife becomes too large for your finely detailed prepwork, then this little paring knife with a 3.5 inch blade can accomplish the goal.
This knife is also great for beginner cooks. Most home cooks will feel more comfortable with the small blade because it is more maneuverable and convenient. Once you’ve gotten confident using the paring knife, upgrade to the chef’s knife for easier and smoother cuts.
This 8 inch serrated knife, for $34.99, is also an essential knife to have laying around. The blade is crafted from 3 layers of 440c composite steel and sharpened at an angle of 14%. The handle is also easy to grip and water resistant, so you can use this knife with ease of mind.
This serrated knife is great for slicing through crusty bread, tomatoes with tough outer skin, and citrus fruits with slippery or shiny skin. This knife will seamlessly cut through the crust or skin of your ingredient without compressing or ruining the delicate inside. The scalloped blade initially tears through the skin on the first cut so you won’t have to worry about the ingredient slipping and falling from your cutting board.
This utility knife, priced at $29.99 is a great knife to pick up whenever you want to find a middle ground between the size of the chef’s knife and the paring knife. This knife serves the same purpose as the other two and will accomplish all of your prepwork tasks. The only difference is the blade is 5 inches, which finds a middle ground between 8 inches and 3.5 inches.
The thin, Damascus steel blade is ideal for precision cuts and is easily maneuverable. This knife will also come in handy to make those smaller, finer cuts that are too fine for a chef’s knife to handle.
For, $54.99, add this Nakiri knife to your future wish list. This is a Japanese style vegetable knife with a thin blade and square edge that makes it ideal for single chopping motions -- it eliminates the need for a push and pull sawing technique. This knife can cut through thin bones and some vegetables. It will create perfectly straight linear cuts with every motion.
All of these knives require simple maintenance that is doable for home cooks. Simply, hand-wash the knife in warm soapy water, rinse and dry with a cloth. They should not be allowed to sit in water for long periods of time as this may damage the blade. Sharpening is also required as part of the regular upkeep. Each of these knives will perform as a high-quality, professional grade knife for a fraction of the price.