Knife Sets on a budget

Kitchen ramblings . . .

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Note to self: Attaining “Master Chef” status is possible with the right tools. The time has come to revamp the working implements in the heart of this busy household – the kitchen. In light of recent events, namely, repeated crushed rather than cut fruits and vegetables, I’ve made the decision to finally break down and purchase a new knife set. The goal is to locate a classy and functional knife set on a budget. As we prefer to support American made products and shop locally, my purchase will most likely be from a local artisan, but general online research would be the ideal place to start.

We try to “eat green and close to the ground” so I will need a variety of different blades – smooth and serrated. The most consistently recommended set appears to be one medium and one small serrated knife for bread and meat as well as at least two smaller, smooth blades for fruits, vegetables and precision meat slicing. As we cook with large cuts of meat and a variety of squashes, I will ideally also need a large-scale knife to handle those bigger tasks. Finding a set that also includes a couple of bonus paring knives would be ideal, but I would prefer a modest, quality set over sheer quantity.

A good set of knives will last decades; the set we are replacing was gifted by an “all-knowing” and wise mother-in-law and they have literally run the gauntlet and provided optimal cutting pleasure for a number of years. I’ve set a budget at around $90, which will be tight, but certainly possible for this savvy shopper.

Two camps of blade material have emerged: ceramic and metal. Ceramic, which is being hailed as the new “wonder material” in kitchen implements, is characterized as more efficient and reliable than traditional metal blades as it holds an edge longer and require less frequent sharpening. The second option is your traditional high-carbon AUS 8A stainless steel metal blade, which is yes, traditional and less chic than the new ceramic (which comes in a variety of colors), but it has stood the test of time.

Due to our need for durability and longevity in this new addition to the kitchen tool-box and our desire to enrich the local economy, I’ve settled on a traditional set of metal blades with polished wood handles made by an artisan in our county. I’ll have to reuse our current wooden block knife holder, but that will only add to the multi-generational feel of the kitchen!