The best blade is a tough one these days because there is a seriously vast amount of competition. Two stand out brands for excellence have to be Richardson Sheffield and Global. They are mid-range and high-end offerings but when it comes to kitchen knives these are the ranges that make sense. Lifetime guarantees and sustainable manufacturing processes handed down through generations make a one-time investment a cost-effective choice. This blog will help you address whether you opt for ceramic or stainless steel, choose a Chef's Knife or a Santoku, or opt for a block or a few selective knives. No option is wrong. We do not stock low-quality blades because that doesn't satisfy anyone! Whatever you choose will be the best blade for you. We look after the balance, quality of the materials used, aesthetics of the knife/knives, and long manufacturer guarantees. All you need to do is choose your budget and select the blade that meets your requirements.
Ceramic vs Stainless Steel
Whilst traditionally, stainless steel has been the professional’s choice for superior knife construction, ceramic knives have their marked benefits, especially for home cooks wishing to slice with ease and those who are worried about the potential for corrosion and rust in stainless steel knives at lower prices. A huge benefit of ceramic knives is that they traditionally have a stronger construction and so can be sharpened to a much finer edge. However, what you gain in superior sharpness - perfect for slicing through vegetables and boneless meat - you might lose in increased brittleness. Consequently, ceramic knives can sometimes be prone to chipping, so extra care is needed when dishwashing and storing these knives.
One of the great advantages to using ceramic knives is that, unlike steel, they are impervious to corrosion from acids and salts and so are less likely to rust or stain. Whilst they won't require sharpening very often due to their composition, they can initially be difficult to sharpen and so a high-skill level and attention is needed at this stage. In contrast, stainless steel knives are endlessly versatile, able to deal with bones and tougher slicing much better than a ceramic knife. Whilst the greatest levels of ease for soft-slicing are found with ceramic, stainless steel is more than equipped for the job - with good maintenance they can be extremely sharp and with a standard block including paring knives for peeling, carving and bread knives, and all-purpose cook's knives, steel is the clear all-round choice. Whilst poor quality stainless steel can be prone to spots of rusting, the modern knife construction with high carbon that is common to all the highly affordable blocks we offer very rarely show signs of deterioration and with regular sharpening can last for years and years!
Our recommendation is that you equip yourself with the versatility of a good stainless steel knife block and then, if your budget allows it, or if you're looking to expand your collection, supplement your go-to stainless steel knives with a pair of ceramic knives. For delicate slicing and fast-chopping of all vegetables and boneless meats, adding a ceramic option to your kitchen is an additional versatile choice.
Our two top-selling blocks are both manufactured by Richardson Sheffield > Take a look here.
Santoku vs Cook's Knife
The main kitchen knife that you will likely get the most use out of often varies from block to block. Some feature the classic French style of cook's knife which is renowned for producing the best 'rocking' cutting action. Other blocks come equipped with the Japanese style Santoku, a unique style which has a renowned fine chopping motion. Personally, I like a thicker blade and tend to lean toward the Cooks knife. I think it is more about weight balance and the versatility of the knife. Both satisfy the role of a leading knife so it comes down to which you prefer.
Santoku: One of the best Santoku knives at an affordable price is the Richardson Sheffield Kyu 12.5cm. Made from high carbon German steel - specifically chrome molybdenum vanadium - the Kyu is exceptionally easy to maintain, has a high stain resistance and is easy to sharpen. It is known for being razor-sharp straight out of the box and has a modern attractive design with moulded handles. These easy-grip handles are cleverly designed to reduce the surface area in which dust and dirt can be trapped, as might be the case with traditionally riveted handles, and so the Kyu is very easy to clean and maintain. A more high-end example that needs little introduction is the Global 13cm Santoku Knife. This example is their 35th Anniversary edition. It is an ice tempered and hardened blade perfect for slicing, dicing and mincing. It has perfect balance which you would expect from a brand that is made in Japan using a manufacturing technique that is based on how Samurai swords were created. They are a leading brand due to their sustainability, aesthetics and resistance to rust, corrosion and stains.
Cook's: A deluxe range of knives that favours the classic french Cook's style is the Richardson Sheffield Sabatier 9 Piece, including the 20cm V range knife with a hardness rating of 55HRC. The Sabatier name evokes the highest standards in reliability, precision and performance. Consequently, this range is known for its traditional feel, with a classic full-tang rivetted handle and a weighty robustness, you can feel the quality of the Sabatier V knives the moment you pick one up. A nice mid-range option for the Cook's knife comes via Robert Welch. The Signature 16cm comes with a lifetime guarantee and is made from German stainless steel and hardened to Rockwell 55-56. It is a versatile, incredibly comfortable kitchen knife.
Arguably the only knife you need in the kitchen is either a Cook's or a Santoku. They are sharp, well balanced and can turn their blade to any job. Sure, a short blade is handy for fiddly tasks like stripping a vanilla pod, scooping out an avocado, or peeling a potato but you will have a lot of your kitchen tasks nailed with one of these versatile kitchen companions.
Other Types of Knife
Paring: generally designed with a thin, finely pointed, 3 to 4 inch blade with a tapered end. Paring knives are perfect for intricate work, allowing for maximum control compared to large knives, a must for basic preparation and utility work in the kitchen.
Cleaver: Perhaps best known for its horror movie appearances. The cleaver is an impressive blade and the thickest out there. A heavy knife designed to gi through bone making them the butcher's choice blade. If you want to buy meat on the bone and chop your own for the freezer chances are you will want a cleaver in your arsenal. It has a lighter and thinner blade than the traditional butcher's version making it good for precision cutting. It's weight and sharpness guarantee a steady and straight cut.
Boning: ideal for deboning cuts of meat and for preparing fish or poultry. Boning Knives come in varying shapes but the general curve is designed for precise cutting. Narrow boning knives get between ribs and chops, wider knives for simple cuts of chicken and pork, and greater curved boning knifes for acute angles close to bones.
Carving: it is important to have a specially made carving knife for roasts and joints, as using a Chef's knife is not ideal for getting beautiful cuts of meat and the thinner carving knife can be damaged if used for chopping. Long blades, between 8 and 14 inches, pointed tips and the finely thinned steel makes for perfect even cuts of meat when utilised in a sawing motion. Browse through our range of high-quality, speciality carving knives here.
Bread: a thick-bladed knife with serrated edges, generally with 8 to 9-inch blades. Perfect for slicing through tough crusts, with deep serrations and an even long blade for even slicing. We have a nice selection of bread knives but my favourite has to be the Just Slate that comes in a gift box and is very modestly priced for a well-weighted piece.