The SCIENCE of COOKING - Dr.Stuart Farrimond


An essential guide to KNIVES

A few select knives meet most kitchen needs.
Many chefs consider good-quality, durable, sharp knives among their most prized possessions.

How knives are constructed
Knives are either stamped or forged. The most widely sold are lightweight stamped blades, made by punching a hole out of a sheet of steel. Forged blades are made by beating, heating, and cooling metal, which forces metal atoms into minute crystal clusters, creating a more durable “fine-grained” metal. The following is a guide to the basic knives every cook should own.

Use for
Finely slicing, dicing, disjointing large cuts of meat, and crushing garlic cloves with the side of the blade.
What to look for
A handle that fits your hand and isn't over heavy. The knife should feel balanced and weighty enough to divide meat from bone.
※The blade can extend fully or partially through the handle, known as its “tang”. A full tang tends to make a
more rigid, durable knife than a partial one.
※The cutting edge is called the bevel, where the metal narrows to a fraction of a millimetre.
※A large curvature has a rocking movement for fine chopping, while a flatter curve is ideal for slicing.
Use for
Slicing, peeling, coring, and delicate work such as scraping out vanilla pods.
What to look for
A thin blade that's spear-pointd, or, for fast, precise cuts, is flat so the cutting edge is flush with the board.
※Forged blades taper towards the tip; stamped blades are the same thickness the length of the blade.
※A shorter blade (6-10cm)allows for precision work
Use for
Making thin cuts of meat from a large joint.
What to look for
A long, thin, very sharp cutting edge with a pointed tip. It should have less curvature than the chef's knife as it's for slicing rather than rocking.
※When the blade broadens near the handle, this is called a “bolster” and indicates a forged metal.
※A carving knife should be thinner than a chef's knife as it is used to the finest of cuts.
Use for
Foods that have a tough crust or smooth, delicate skin, such as bread, cake, or large tomatoes, when precision isn't required.
What to look for
A long blade, comfortable handle, and deep, pointed serrations.
※Aim for fewer than 40 serrations and a thin blade. Fewer serrations will pierce skin more cleanly and with greater pressure.
※Comfort and grip are more important than the actual handle material.
※Saw-like points exert intense pressure over a tiny area to puncture the surface, then the scalloped blades slide into the crevices to slice food open.

※Carbon steel
This metal is a simple blend of iron and carbon (unlike other steels that have extra elements added). A well-cared-for blade can stay sharp for longer than stainless steel, but carbon steel is prone to rust, so knives require careful maintenance, cleaning, drying, and oiling.
※Stainless steel
Chromium is added to the iron-carbon mix to produce a more flexible, rust-resistant steel. Good-quality stainless steel has a fine grain for sharpness, and it can be alloyed with other metals for durability. Easy to sharpen and strong, stainless steel is often most practical for the home cook.
Very sharp, light, and hard, ceramic blades are a good choice for cutting through meat. The blades are usually made of zirconium oxide, ground to a razor-sharp edge. The blades don't rust, but are hard to sharpen and don't flex like steel, so can easily break or chip if they hit bone or are dropped.