OK, raise your hand if you have a knife block set sitting on your kitchen counter. I know you can’t see me, but I’ve got my hand raised. Now, keep your hand raised if you can honestly say that you use each one of those knives on a regular basis – at least once a week. Hmmm…I don’t have my hand raised anymore, do you? I’d say a majority of us probably don’t. Nice marketing on the part of the manufacturer who convinced me to buy one anyway!
What’s That Knife For ?
My block set consists of a knife honing steel and 7 different knife types. If I exclude the steak knives and honing steel, I only count three knives that I use regularly and consider to be the necessary staples - a chef’s knife, a serrated bread knife and a paring knife. That leaves three other knives that never get used and worse yet (gasp!) are taking up valuable counter space. I know…what was I thinking?
The Knife Trinity
For everyday home cooking you can easily get by with the chef, bread and paring knives. A boning knife might be the only other knife I’d add to my set (which of course my block did NOT come with!) The other knives that you’ll see in these sets are typically ”utility” knives that I now know, serve no real purpose other than filling up the holes in the block and give department stores the ability to charge more for the set! I haven’t come across an everyday cooking utility that I could not take care of with one of the knives in my little knife ”trinity”.
What is a Honing Steel ?
Granted, there was one redeeming item in my set which I will give the manufacturer credit for including and that’s the honing steel. No home cook’s kitchen is complete without one. I have friends who were married this weekend and selecting the gift to purchase off their registry was an easy decision - the honing steel! I use it every time I pick up my chef knife and many times inbetween depending on how much slicing, dicing or chopping I’m doing. It’s important to always keep your knife blade sharp if not only to avoid mutilating the food your preparing but also to prevent accidents. A dull blade can easily slip off the surface of even the firmest of tomatoes and you may find yourself slicing into more than just the tomato!
So if you’ve been thinking about owning a block set but haven’t made a decision on what to buy, before you make that purchase ask yourself: 1. Would you use all of the knives? and 2. Do you know what purpose each knife is meant for? If you answered no to either of those questions, then do yourself a favor and don’t waste your money or precious kitchen space on an entire set. I would suggest you go the open stock route so that YOU can decide what knives you need, not the manufacturer.
Well, I guess with that said, it’s time for me to have a yard sale. I’ve got a nice used knife block set that needs to go and take up space on someone else’s counter!