What Are The Different Types Of Knives In Cutlery Sets?

What are the different types of knives in cutlery sets? In the standard metal cutlery set you will see the chef knives, which is the main work horse and that's for the chopping and mincing. There are many...

There are many different kinds of knives that may come in a cutlery set. Some sets are for use when serving meals such as table knives or steak knives while others are primarily designed for food preparation. Knives can be purchased individually or in sets. Most steak knives come in sets of four or eight but can occasionally be found in sets of six. Culinary knives may be purchased in sets or separately as well. Many of these knives will come with a storage block, box, bag or other accessory to protect and keep them in when not in use. The specific number and type of knives that come in each set may vary but most sets will contain a chef's knife, a paring knife, a bread knife, and a slicing knife, as these are the most widely used knives. Others may have more kitchen knives or steak knives included in the set as well.


Karl Pfitzenreiter has been in the business of cutlery for 24 years. He is the president and CEO of J.A. Henckels, a position he has held for the last 20 years. Pfitzenreiter states, "In the standard metal cutlery set you will see the chef knives, which is the main work horse and that's for the chopping and mincing." Chef's knives are very popular since they are so versatile. They are wonderful to use for everyday tasks like slicing and chopping many different kinds of foods.




Paring knives have a straight edge, a blunt tip and are smaller than most other knives. Pfitzenreiter says, "Typically it is a three inch blade on that and that's for trimming and peeling and squaring up small pieces of vegetables. Then you get a little slightly larger version of that paring knife and that's the utility knife and it's used for peeling and slicing." There is also a knife known as a bird beak paring knife. Pfitzenreiter says, "It's a little two and half inch knife and it's shaped like a beak of a bird and it's great for small fruits and vegetables." A sheep's foot paring knife has a straight edge and a blunt tip and is great for dicing small food like shallots or garlic. Fluting knives can be great to make garnishments as they offer a high level of control of the blade when using them.

Pfitzenreiter states, "You will have a serrated blade in the set typically for slicing crusty loaves or other food with a hard tough exterior." Bread knives have a scalloped edge that can easily cut through a hard crust without crushing or tearing the bread slice. They are also great for fruits like pineapples, cantaloupes or watermelons. Slicing knives have a rounded tip and a long straight cutting edge to allow large chunks of meat to be sliced into nice even pieces. These are great for carving a ham, roast, or turkey. By reducing the amount of friction these knives can easily slice smoothly through the meat.

A utility knife can cut just about any food you want. It is a good all-purpose knife that works well on most fruits and vegetables. These knives typically have blades that are four to seven inches long and are often used to slice cold cuts or small pieces of meat.

Boning knives are designed with a narrow blade to enable the user to remove bones from meat and poultry more easily. Pfitzenreiter adds, "It has a slender blade that curves inwards to give you precise edge control." Carving knives are primarily used for cutting through meat that has already been cooked. It can also be used for slicing sandwiches, smaller cuts of meat, or fruits and vegetables. Pfitzenreiter states, "When you are carving roasted meat and poultry, you want thin uniform slices and that is what the longer blade allows you to do." Fillet knives are very flexible which makes them perfect when removing skin or bones from fish. They also do well when cutting small or delicate fowl. Trimming knives are like small boning knives and are used to remove excess fat from beef to make the presentation of the meal more appealing.

According to Pfitzenreiter, "Traditional Asian shape knives are becoming very popular; in some cases more popular than chef knives and it is shorter and thinner than a chef knife. It shines when doing delicate precise work; perfect for Asian cooking. And Asian knives in general are thinner than German knives, but for dicing and slicing the chef knife is best."

Santoku knives combine the features of a chef's knife and those of a cleaver to from a wonderful multipurpose knife. This knife has a wide blade that can slice, dice and mince items as well as serve as a spatula. Cleavers are heavyweight pieces that are used to cut large pieces of meat or poultry. The user does this by taking a single downward thrust to slice the meat or even some vegetables.

Tomato knives can obviously slice tomatoes but don't be fooled, they have many other uses as well. There are great to use on citrus fruits and even to slice sandwiches or bagels. Tomato knives have a fork like tip that can be used to remove slices already cut or to reposition the meat you are slicing.

Specialty knives are available as well such as Nogent or cheese knives. Nogent knives are named for the city they came from. They are primarily used as garnishing knives. Cheese knives come in various styles. Some are meant for cutting soft while others are meant for cutting hard cheeses. There is a Parmesan cheese knife that has a triangular shape. It is designed to chip away at large blocks of cheese. Shrimp deveiner knives are available to remove shrimp veins delicately. Pizza wheels make excellent slices that are cleanly cut and well sized. Shears aren't really knives but they often come with knife sets and are used to trim pastry dough, snip herbs, to cut twine, or even to cut freezer paper.

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