For kitchen essentials nothing is more essential than a good set of knives. A bad knife is a dangerous tool even in the most experienced hands. Dull knives don’t cut; they mash and slip and slide on the food and manage to cut fingers easily. A knife that doesn’t fit your hand will make the chores in the kitchen seem endless.
If you are going to be serious in the kitchen, the first and most important purchase you should make is on your knives. You don’t need to buy a big set and spend hundreds of dollars all at one time. Go to the mall, check out the knives. Hold them and see how they feel in your hand. A good knife should feel balanced, the handle should be comfortable to your grip.
The biggest question is, what makes a good knife? There are a number of criteria to answer that question. Quality of the steel, shape of the knife, the handle. Steel is the first thing to look at when buying a knife, cheaper knives are made from carbon steel and that doesn’t make for a good knife as it rusts easily. High carbon, stain resistant steel is what you want. The steel should be well polished, feel smooth and look smooth. A pitted or a rough finish on a knife is a sign of poor quality.
The next thing to look at, is how was the blade make? There are two processes to make a knife, it is either stamp or forged. A stamped knife is stamp or cut out of a mold and is not the signature of a great knife. Forged means the knife was continually heat and the metal folded over itself making it much stronger. Forged blades will hold their edge better.
The third thing to look at is whether or not the “tang” ( the part of the knife that extends into the handle) is full and goes all the way to the end of the handle. The knife should also be one complete piece from tip of blade to end of tang. Some knives are two piece and you can see a obvious connection at the bolster, the top edge of the knife handle before the blade begins. A good knife will have a thick bolster where as a stamped knife will have a bolster about the same thickness as the spine of the blade.