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Tools Of The Trade: Knives

No matter what you’re making in the kitchen, you’re probably using a knife. Whether you’re cutting meat, chopping or dicing vegetables, knowing your knife and how to use it properly is essential. 

Knife Anatomy

Blade: Cooking knives range typically from six to fourteen inches and vary in thickness. 

Handle: Handles can range in material used. From hardwoods like rosewood to metals, the best handles are those that are both durable and have resistance to moisture. There is no right answer as to what the best handle shape is- this is going to be at the preference of the user based on what is most comfortable.

Butt: The butt is the part of the handle furthest from the blade at the base. This section helps provide weight to the knife. 

Bolster: The bolster is the part of the blade that meets with the handle. It adds strength and durability to the knife as well as balance. A well balanced knife makes a big difference in more impactful jobs like chopping. 

Heel: This is the part of the blade closest to the bolster. The heel is the thickest part of the blade. This section is great for chopping through bone or thicker vegetables. 

Tang: The tang is the strip of metal running from the blade through the handle (non cutting side). This part of the knife increases the connectivity between the blade and the handle. 

Spine: The spine is the section of the blade. A thicker spine adds strength and stability to the blade. 

Cutting edge: This is where all the action happens. Other than coming in both non-serrated and serrated variations for different jobs, the angle of the blade coming off each side of the cutting edge can change as well. Typical variations include a small or large V shaped, a beveled edge, or a chisel edge. 

Tip: The tip is the first 1/3rd of the blade. When doing cuts like mincing, the tip remains in contact with the cutting board while the remainder portion of the knife does the work.

Point: This is where your delicate work is going to happen such as slitting meat. The point is the final fragment of the blade furthest from the handle. 

Holding Your Knife

The blade should be held between your forefinger and thumb just in front of the bolster. The other three fingers wrap around the handle. Proper hand positioning around the bolster will determine what kinds of cuts you are going to make as well as helps you control the size of those cuts. This is also the safest way to hold a knife. It may take a minute to get used to this grip, but it’ll make a big difference in your chopping game!

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