Whether you're buying what you need for your first home, picking out a gift set for a wedding or housewarming, or replacing your formal silver service to opt for a simpler lifestyle, a good set of stainless steel flatware is one of the most practical purchases you can make, combining function and beauty to make each meal feel a little more special. You only have to make a few simple decisions when you pick out a stainless steel flatware set. Take a look at these tips to help you make the right choice.
Choose the Shine Level
Although many people refer to it as silverware, stainless steel flatware doesn't contain any actual silver. Stainless steel is a combination of steel, chromium and nickel blended in different proportions to create a specific look in the metal. The more nickel your stainless steel flatware contains, the shinier it appears. Take a look at the numbers used to label the flatware: When choosing between 18/10, 18/8 and 18/0 flatware, the first number refers to the amount by percentage of chromium and the second to the amount of nickel. If you want shiny flatware, go for the 18/10, which is 10 percent nickel. If you prefer a more muted, matte appearance, check out the 18/0 flatware patterns. The metallic composition of the stainless steel is purely a matter of personal preference, as all three types last a lifetime with minimal care.
Determine the Number of Place Settings
A general rule of thumb for deciding how many place settings of your stainless steel silverware you need is one place setting for every place setting of dinnerware. If you're in the process of choosing dinnerware as well as flatware, it's often best to aim for a total of 12 place settings. In addition, many people like to buy a few extra forks or spoons for serving dessert or coffee at the end of a dinner party when you've already carted all your place settings off to the dishwasher. It's usually better to buy more than you think you may need, as flatware manufacturers often retire designs, and you may find that filling out or expanding your set can become difficult if you wait.
Add Serving Pieces
Think about the kinds of foods you like to serve, and pick out the stainless steel serving pieces you're most likely to need. Most people pick out a soup ladle, a pie server, large serving spoons and slotted spoons, and large serving forks. You may also want to pick up salad servers, cheese knives, a gravy ladle, and a cake knife.
Pick a Design You Love
To choose a stainless steel flatware design that's appropriate for your lifestyle, think about how you like to entertain. If you love to set out the fine china on heirloom table linens, you're likely to gravitate to more traditional and formal styles of flatware. If your dining and entertaining style leans more toward grabbing a bite in your eat-in kitchen or joining friends and family to binge-watch your favorite TV shows, then a more contemporary style may be appropriate.
Think About the Weight of Your Flatware
Some people love the feel of picking up a heavy knife or fork that feels substantial in the hand. If that describes you, look for hand-forged flatware. If you like to keep things casual and lightweight, check out flatware that's stamped, or made out of a continuous sheet of metal. These pieces still feel solid but aren't too heavy in your hand.
How to Care for Your Stainless Steel Flatware
Stainless steel flatware is famously easy to take care of: Just rinse it after eating, then wash it. The first few times you wash new stainless steel, do it by hand. After that, it's fine to pop it in the dishwasher. Store it in a practical tray or caddy that lets you separate the knives, forks, and spoons for easy access.