Knives are some of the most important ingredients in the kitchen. The only tools that I use more are my hands.
The best way to choose a knife is to actually hold it and see how it feels to you. Notice how it fits in your hand and see if it is comfortable and balanced. Make sure that the handle has a good grip. I prefer a stainless steel blade with a composite handle. These types of knives are easier to maintain and are dishwasher safe. Just be careful that they don’t knock against anything in the dishwasher. I would also advise using a knife block to store them in to avoid damaging the blades.
Keeping you knives sharp is critical to safety and makes your cutting chores much more enjoyable. A dull knife has more chances to slip and cause injury. There is a multitude of sharpening devises on the market, but I prefer to take my knives to a professional. The home sharpeners tend to grind quite a bit of the steel with each use, and before long you may end up with a lot less knife! A knife that is professionally sharpened will stay sharp for a very long time. To keep the blade aligned you should run it over an instrument known as a “steel” before each use. The steel does not actually sharpen the knife but it will help keep it sharp longer. Directions on how to use the steel are available at most cutlery stores or on the web.
You can purchase cutlery as a set or as individual pieces. Make sure that you also get a steel and a wood block storage unit. My favorite, and most used, knives are my chef’s knife for chopping and slicing, pairing knife for precision tasks, and a bread knife which is great for bread and also as a general utility knife.
Good quality knives that fit your hand and stay sharp will really add to your enjoyment of cooking, and make the process quicker and safer.