What kitchen knives do you really need?

September 25, 2014

What knives do you really need? / JillHough.com

So you probably heard about the Napa earthquake.

We’re totally fine—broken glasses and dishware to clean up, shards that managed to get into every drawer and cupboard, but that was about all. So on the one hand, no big deal.

But on the other, it was scaaarry. For a good two weeks, I was low-level jittery and super emotional. Nothing like a natural disaster to get one very present to what truly matters.

One thing that matters—people.

One thing that doesn’t—stuff.

Take kitchen knives. You really only need about three. (So why do I have ten?)

What knives do you really need? / JillHough.com

1. You need a good chef’s knife (above middle) for the bulk of your chopping and cutting.

2. You need a good paring knife (above left) to do small tasks.

3. You need a good serrated knife (above right) for slicing bread.

That’s it.

What knives do you really need? / JillHough.com

If you insist,

4. You could have a carving knife (above middle), a long, thin blade that’s better than a chef’s knife for slicing a roast, say, or skinning a salmon.

5. You could have a boning knife (above left), provided you bone anything. (Who does?)

6. You could have one knifely indulgence. Mine, my tomato knife (above right). It’s a medium-sized knife with small serrations, perfect for biting into a tomato’s pudgy flesh, where a straight-edged knife might slip. (What’s yours?)

What kind of knives should you buy? How should you best keep them sharp? Topics for other posts.

Meanwhile, clean out your knife drawer—it’ll be good for your feng shui—slice yourself a fresh, ripe, fall-y fig, and toast what’s important.

Here’s hoping the next reminder is a little less dramatic.

What knives do you really need? / JillHough.com


5 thoughts on “What kitchen knives do you really need?

  1. Rita Held

    Very practical advice, Jill. I rarely use my 10-inch chef’s knife. It’s good for lots of fresh herbs on a large cutting board. But that’s about it.
    Mark Bittman’s cookbook “How to Cook Everything–The Basics” say about what you do regarding knives. He’s very basic and clear.

  2. Jill Post author

    Do you have a smaller chef’s knife you like better, Rita, or do you not use one? I once had a knife skills teacher say that you should get the biggest chef’s knife you feel comfortable with because, for example, there’s an 8-inch chef’s knife IN a 10-inch chef’s knife. But comfortable is the key–10-inch is too big for me, too. (And thanks for favorably comparing me to Mark Bittman!)

  3. Jill Post author

    Need, of course, is hard to define. But I feel pretty confident saying your kitchen toys and tools go deep into the “want” category, my friend! (All the better for those of us who might “need” to borrow things!)

  4. Pingback: A fall-y figgy salad / Jill Silverman Hough

  5. Pingback: How to buy and care for kitchen knives / Jill Silverman Hough

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