Knives have been around almost as long as we’ve had tools. And while not a lot has changed over time, there have been a few advancements. The latest comes in the form of a new material—ceramic blades. Unlike your ceramic flowerpots, the ceramic used for knives is super-hard and can be honed to a smooth, sharp edge. That’s not to say that ceramic knives are better than metal knives, but there are pros and cons to both materials
Ceramic knives are harder than steel knives, rating close to diamonds... on the hardness scale. Because of that harness, they hold an edge longer so they don’t need to be sharpened as often, and they don’t need to be honed to straighten their edge. However, that hardness also means that ceramic can’t be sharpened with most of the traditional knife-sharpening materials that were designed for steel knives. The oilstones that have been in the family for years aren’t hard enough to cope with ceramic knives, and electric sharpeners can chip or break ceramic blades.
Some ceramic knives can be returned to the manufacturer for professional sharpening, but that’s inconvenient. Fortunately, as ceramic knives become more popular, there are new sharpening stones being made that have embedded diamond dust. There are also some electric sharpeners that can now handle sharpening ceramic knives.
Ceramic knives are also stain-resistant and rust-proof. They aren’t affected by acids in foods and won’t cause browning. They’re easy to clean, they don’t absorb odors, and they're lightweight.
While any sharp knife is good for slicing foods thinly, ceramic knives are particularly well suited for that task, whether you’re slicing paper-thin radishes or peeling a tomato. They’re also good for slashing bread dough before baking.
Just like steel knives, where the precise type of metal can vary, there are different types of ceramic materials being used for ceramic knives today, with many manufacturers using proprietary materials. Many ceramic knives have a bright white blade, but some are being made with black blades, as well.
The biggest downside to ceramic knives is that along with the super-hardness comes brittleness. They can’t be used for boning, prying, or cutting frozen foods or for any tasks where the knife is likely to bend. They shouldn’t be used for chopping if the blade will hit the cutting board sharply. And they shouldn’t be dropped. If a steel knife hits the floor you might bend the tip or embed it in the floor, but if you drop a ceramic knife, it’s likely to break or shatter.
Steel blades have their downsides, too. Depending on the type of steel used, they can be prone to staining or even rusting. They need to be sharpened more often than ceramic blades. And they are heavier than ceramic knives.
Just like any other knife choice, the final decision between ceramic or steel comes down to personal preference. A person who often drops their knives won’t have a good relationship with a ceramic knife, while someone who hates having to sharpen knives will appreciate how long the edge lasts on a ceramic knife. Here, the best ceramic knives for you.
This all-black santoku knife has the classic santoku shape, but it doesn’t have the granton edge that is common (but not required) on this type of knife. The blade is made from a proprietary zirconia ceramic that is made only in Japan and is slightly shorter, at 5 1/2 inches, than average santoku knives. Some cooks might prefer the slightly shorter blade, while it’s not so much shorter than the typical 6- to 7-inch blades that it would hinder cooks who have used longer blades.
This knife should... be hand-washed. When the blade gets dull, the knife can be returned to the manufacturer’s facility in California for sharpening. There is no fee for the sharpening service, but the customer must pay for shipping and handling. The company also recommends its own electric sharpener which is designed for ceramic blades.
Ceramic paring knives are great for delicate tasks, like peeling tomatoes or making super-thin slices of vegetables for garnishes, along with all of the typical paring tasks. This piece is a bargain and comes with a handy sheath making it a good cooking knife for traveling.
The high carbon stainless steel stays sharp over time and though it is dishwasher safe, hand washing is recommended to keep the knife performing well for many years.
If you prefer a slightly longer chef’s knife, you’ll love this 8-inch knife and its cheerful green handle and razor sharp edge. The grip is designed to be comfortable in your hand, making slicing and dicing effortless.
For storage, the knife comes with a sheath to keep it safe.
A utility knife is the one you’ll reach for most often, since it’s the medium-sized knife in the block. Micro-serrations make this the perfect knife for cutting difficult produce with tough skins and soft interiors, like tomatoes, while it’s also great for cutting any other fruits, vegetables, and meats with ease. It’s also great for slicing your sandwich into wedges.
This is a well-balanced knife with an ergonomic handle that will reduce hand fatigue during repetitive knife work. When this needs... to be resharpened, you can send it back to Kyocera for free sharpening.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
A slicing knife is designed for, well, slicing. This is the knife you’ll turn to when you need to carve a roast. The long, thin blade slices easily through large boneless meats, whether you have a turkey breast or a beef roast, and whether you want thick or paper-thin slices.
This blade is break-resistant during normal use but can break or chip if dropped on a hard surface, and the handle is designed to be ergonomic and easy to use.
Not just for bread, this 7-inch serrated knife is also great for slicing large foods, like heads of lettuce or cabbage or slicing melons. The serrated edge slices easily through tough tomato skin or crisp bread crusts, then slides gently through the soft interior.
The ergonomic handle reduces fatigue, while the lightweight and good balance make cutting nearly effortless. This knife can be returned to Kyocera for free resharpening when required.
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