Thursday, October 16, 2008

Outfitting your kitchen with knives

Since vegans chop a lot of vegetables it seems important to talk about knives and how to choose them. I'm guessing a lot of you already know this and if so, just stop reading now. :)

First of all, don't buy a set. Second, don't buy a cheap (except maybe Forschner knives) knives. Good knives last a lifetime and are worth the investment. Even if you have to save your pennies for months to buy one knife, you should do that instead of buying cheap knives. I have Wusthof's, but Henckle's are equally good. I know some people will disagree and say that cheap knives are fine, but after years of using cheap crappy knives we got as a wedding present and then switching to nice knives, I just disagree. Cooks Illustrated also seems to really like the Forschner knives as good quality inexpensive knives.

The first knife you should buy is an 8" Chefs Knife and then if you have never used one before, watch a video about how to hold it and use it (watching my Mom with the knife I bought her about kills me). It is the one indispensible knife in your kitchen. It can do everything and is great at chopping fresh herbs and mincing garlic. If you can have 2 "chefs knives", I'd recommend a Santuko. I do almost all my chopping with my Santuko. I love it and would cry for days if something happened to it. It is not so great for fresh herbs though, so then I pull out my chefs knife. My husband Mike uses the Chefs knife almost exclusively.

Chefs Knife


You really don't need any other knives, but if you can have more knives, a good serrated knife is next in line. I have 2 serrated knives: a short tomato knife (it's good for slicing fingers too) and a very long bread knife. My tomato knife is oddly named a "sausage knife" in the Wustoff catalog.

Tomato Knife

Bread Knife

I also have a wooden knife block to keep my knives in. Don't just throw them in a drawer, give them a safe home.

And while it is not a knife, a peeler is indispensible when prepping for dinner. A regular old oxo peeler is best. And next is the oxo serrated tomato peeler, while it is clearly just a bonus tool, it peels tomatoes and peaches easily (without boiling water).

Tomato peeler


  1. Why wouldn't you recommend buying a knife set? Also, you may be interested in a giveaway I am hosting:

  2. knives are so important! we actually (miraculously) got a REALLY good set for christmas and they are super sharp and have all the kinds we need. i never realize how important knives are until i try to cook at my parents' house and use their knives... you can't even chop an onion with them! how do they EAT?

  3. Ooh. Good question. Sorry. I totally left that out.

    If you buy a really good set you are likely to spend a LOT of money and then get a several knives that you don't really need and won't use often. It's better to buy the ones you actually need and will use. It costs less in the long run (because you only really need a few). Otherwise you buy a set and you find it doesn't have x knife or y knife and then have to buy those too.

    Same goes with a cheap set.

    In general, I go with this theory on buying pots too.

  4. Yeah, that is why I bought my mom a knife - so when I visit I have a good one to cook with. Trying to convince my mom that she is less likely to cut herself with a super sharp knife than a dull one was also a chore.

    I always think it is overlooked as an unimportant part of the kitchen.

  5. Just wanted to say.. I am not sure if its a "non" vegan store.. but I have great pampered chef knives that have kept me happily chopping away... and they cost is pretty good. If it is NON vegan someone tell me so I can stop supporting it!!!

  6. I do hear some good things about Pampered Chef stuff.

  7. i have a santuko, a serrated bread knife and a small paring knife. maybe one day i'll get a chef's knife, but honestly the santuko seems to take care of most of my needs. and if you don't want to take up counter space with a wooden block, use a magnetic knife rack if you have a good place for it.

  8. I'd love one of those magnetic knife racks. Those are cool too. I didn't get one because I was worried about the cats messing around with knives (even though they are not supposed to be on the counters) :).