Cutlery sets make it possible to cut, slice, chop, dice, and shred your favorite foods to make delicious mouth-watering homemade meals. Most of these sets offer five to twelve knives that make cooking and preparing meals a breeze. Choose a set with plastic or wooden handles for a conventional grip, or pick stainless steel or ceramic for a luxurious touch. Premium brands, including Miyabi, Oneida, and Ginsu, are available, and many cutlery sets come with their own wooden blocks, which make storage a cinch and add decor to your kitchen. Colorful blades offer playfulness, while sleek silver blades display a sophisticated and elegant look. Shop Overstock.com for your cutlery needs whether you are purchasing your first-ever cutlery set or adding a specialty knife to an existing set.
Types of Knives and When to Use Them
8 inch Chef Knife
This is the powerhouse of your knife set and its razor-sharp edge and long blade were made for most of your daily tasks such as cutting up fruits and vegetables. The long, curved blade is designed to rock as you finely mince herbs or other small produce such as carrots or scallions. One thing that this knife shouldn't be used for is to carve poultry or to take the thick skin off of melons or squash. The long blade could be harder to control in these instances making it not the safest choice.
All-Purpose Utility Knife
With a blade that is approximately five inches in length, this is a starter knife that you will reach for time and again to do simple, everyday tasks like slicing a banana for your kids' snack, peeling an apple, or trimming the fat off of a chicken breast (you'll probably want more than one to prevent cross-contamination).
A paring knife tends to be around 3.5 inches in length and is best for detailed cuts like carving the stem out of a strawberry or tomato, de-veining shrimp or segmenting an orange. This small stainless steel blade is great for those cuts that need to be exact and precise. However, this is not the knife to use for hard vegetables or to perform a lot of chopping with. The blade is short so not only would it be awkward for these tasks, but it's a smaller knife and doesn't have the weight to efficiently cut hard vegetables like carrots or parsnips.
Serrated Bread Knife
Does anything taste better than a freshly baked loaf of bread? Pull out that serrated bread knife to ensure that you don't smash the fluffy interior or make a crumby mess with the delicate crust. The serrated edges are similar to a saw and the slicing motion allows the bread to be cut without being smashed. But this is more than just a bread knife. It also works great on tomatoes to make thin slices without the seeds or juices flowing out. It can also break up chocolate bars into crumbly pieces for melting, easily trims off the rind of a melon and helps to slice layers of cake to decrease the amount of crumbs that can flaw your smooth frosting. Don't use this knife on small items like garlic, herbs or berries, though. Not only would it be clumsy to handle for these purposes, but serrated knives use a back and forth slicing motion and these ingredients require a chopping motion to prevent shredding the flesh or fibers.
Santoku knives usually come in 15-pc or larger sets and is another utility knife option. It ranges between five to eight inches long and has a blade that is wider and more curved than a paring knife. This is a stainless steel Japanese knife that was originally called, "Santoku bōchō" meaning "three virtues" or "three uses" which are slicing, dicing, and mincing. Additionally, a santoku knife can be a great starter knife for a beginning cook.
This tool has to be one of the most underappreciated items in the kitchen. These are heavier and thicker than office scissors, but they can be easier to handle and more efficient than a knife. It's great for deboning a chicken when you want to cut off wing tips or take out the backbone. It's also effective for trimming chives and other herbs over your main course for a splash of freshness and color. If you're a mom with small children, kitchen shears are awesome for quickly cutting up pizza, quesadillas and pancakes into bite-sized pieces. Shears are also the only tool to use to trim the spiky tips off of artichoke leaves or to cut up big chunks of diced tomatoes right in the can.
Many knife sets come with a sharpening rod that looks somewhat like a mini-sword. Use it. One of the most common reasons why people get injured with kitchen knives is due to using dull knives. A dull knife is more slippery which can cause cuts and painful injuries. You also need to apply more pressure on the knife while you're cutting and this can lead to less control and a potential for harming yourself.
To use a honing steel sharpener, hold it with your non-dominant hand vertically with the tip firmly pressed against a cutting board (putting a towel underneath the cutting board will help it not to slip). Hold it about an arm's length away from you so that if anything slips, you'll be a good distance away. Press the bottom of the knife where the blade meets the handle against the tip portion of the honing steel. Tilt the knife so that it's at a 15 or 20 degree angle. With light pressure, bring the blade up the honing steel. You should "hone" each side of the blade five to ten times.
If you buy a set of kitchen knives that are stored in a knife block, chances are that it will come with six steak knives. Obviously these are perfect for meals when you serve barbecued steaks, broiled chicken or even cauliflower "steaks". Did you know that steak knives come in different blade styles, too? Serrated steak knives stay sharper longer but can tear the fibers in the meat. Straight edges are more common and allows for a clean cut but will need to be sharpened more often. A hollow edge has little dents along the straight blade which creates air pockets so the food your slicing won't stick to the blade.
Knife Sets 101
Types of Knife Materials
We tend to think that stainless steel cutlery is our only option for our knife set, but there are several more choices that you might want to consider. For example, Cuisinart has sets of ceramic-coated knives that brings color and personality to your kitchen while providing high-carbon stainless steel blades that have a non-stick coating. A ceramic knife with its different colors can also differentiate which ones are used for raw meat to prevent cross contamination with fruits and vegetables for salads and snacks. ZWILLING J.A. Henckels provides classic, forged eight-piece knife sets made of lighter German steel and a signature ice-hardened process that makes their products stronger and stay super-sharp longer. BergHOFF offers one-piece cutlery where both the knives and handles are one solid piece of stainless steel with hollow handles to help the knives stay well-balanced and light.
How to Store Your Knife Set
While your first priority when choosing a knife set is to find one that is balanced, ergonomic, no-stain and high-quality, you should also think about how you plan on storing them in your kitchen. If you just throw them in a drawer without protecting the blades, not only can this be dangerous, but you could damage your investment with the jostling and nicking of these utensils. You might cover your stainless steel knife with a sheath, but there are better ways to protect them. Many knife sets such as Wuster, Farberware and Chicago Cutlery come with a classic wood knife block that sits on your counter and provides for easy retrieval. Some knife sets don't come with a block holder, but that means you can get creative with your storage. There are in-drawer bamboo dividers that can protect your knives and magnetic strips that hang above your back splash. Some storage choices even offer self-sharpening features so you'll always have sharp cutlery ready.