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Why This Is Important
Kitchen knives are a very personal thing. They need to fit your hand and the tasks you tackle in the kitchen. What’s right for a professional chef is not what you need, the knife your best friend swears by may not be right for you. It’s all about fit and function.
Remember that buying quality knives is a worthwhile investment. You will use these tools every day and they will last for many years. Don’t skimp; buy the best you can.
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Knife Shopping: What to Look For
When you go knife shopping, shop in a store, not online, to touch -- it's important that you feel and test-drive the knives.
Whatever type of knife you are considering, try a few different styles to compare. You want a handle that’s comfortable and secure in your fingers, not too big or too small. The right knife will feel like a natural extension of your arm. It shouldn’t be too heavy or too light for you. The heel (the part of the knife just above the handle) should be deep enough so that when you chop, your knuckles don't hit the work surface.
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For slicing bread but also for tomatoes and citrus, a serrated knife is a must. Its sawlike edge guides the blade through the tough crust (or thick skin) without compressing the soft insides.
Bread knives are typically 8- or 9-inch blades, large enough to slice through a big loaf. Try different styles to find the one that feels comfortable for you.
Bread knife, part of Martha Stewart Collection Set
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A lot of slicing and chopping is best done with a small knife, and whenever you need to peel, core, or remove seeds from fruits or vegetables, a small paring knife, with its sharp tip and thin blade, is what you’ll use.
Blades for this kind of knife range in length from 2 1/2 to 4 inches, so hold the knife and try slicing or chopping if you can, to see what size, weight, and style feels best in your hand.
Paring knife, part of Martha Stewart Collection Set
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Buying good knives is the first step. Then you need to keep them sharp. Maintaining an edge is a two-part process. Be sure to buy a honing steel, like the one shown, here for daily maintenance and a diamond steel for occasional sharpening, or buy a handheld sharpener that combines the steel and a diamond edge in one handy tool.
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Take care of your knives. Never put them in the dishwasher and never store them loose in a drawer. There are three ways to store knives:
• A knife block protects blades and keep knives close to hand.
• A magnetic knife rack holds knives safely in place and saves space.
• An in-drawer storage organizer frees up counter space and keeps knives out of the reach of children.