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You need certain knives to prepare basic daily foods. If you invest in these knives one by one, you'll need to install a magnetic, wall-mounted strip to keep them safely out of reach from little fingers and out of drawers that can dull their blades. Here are the knives every cook needs:
• Two serrated knives: these bumpy, sharp-edged knives cut breads and bagels cleanly when it's a long straight knife. When it's shorter with a pointed tip, it is the perfect kitchen utensil for slicing vegetables and fruits that are firm on the outside, yet soft inside (like tomatoes and avocados).
• A paring knife: to peel and cut small amounts of fruits and vegetables, such as apples or peppers. Great for seeding, coring and peeling.
• A chef's knife: this is an all-purpose chopping knife with an 8” blade. For chopping and dicing onions and peppers, keep the tip on your cutting board and rock the handle up and down across the food to create a fine dice.
• A carving knife: this is a thin, more flexible knife for carving thin slices of meat. This knife will curve slightly upward toward the tip. It always comes with a carving fork to hold the meat firmly. Look for one with a safety prong to prevent the knife blade from slipping toward the carver.
And, to keep your knives in tip-top shape, you'll need to invest in a sharpening tool to keep your knives “true.” This is the method by which you keep the steel magnetized and realign the molecular structure of the carving knife blade to keep it's proper V-edge for perfect carving. Here's how to “true” a knife properly:
1. Hold the steel firmly in your left hand, thumb on top of the handle.
2. Hold the knife in your right hand, pointing upward, with hand slightly away from your body.
3. Place the heel of the blade against the far tip of the steel and draw the blade lightly down toward your left hand. Repeat this process, but this time with the blade behind the steel. Do this on each side about six times before every time you use your carving knife.