Kitchen Knives & Cutting Boards

Kitchen Knives & Cutting BoardsTwo Most Important Kitchen Tools — Kitchen Knives . . .

We just returned from a family trip to Arizona, including almost a week under the warm Tucson sun. Working in our VRBO kitchen gave me an understanding of why so few people enjoy cooking. Case in point, the wooden knife block filled with new, thinly serrated kitchen knives sitting on the counter.

Actually an incredibly dull set of new kitchen knives. They tore and mangled vegetables rather than cleanly cut them. Truly some of the most dangerous and poorly designed knives I’ve ever worked with. I was concerned for my fingers. These knives required much too much pressure with each slice and still didn’t cut through. They even smashed bagels which is where serrated knives usually shine.

& Cutting Boards

Of equal concern was the tempered glass “cutting board.” The smooth side caused the knives to slip around, while the rough side prevented the blade from cutting all the way through the vegetables. Totally frustrating. With effort I could cut a carrot in half. But then could only slice half a carrot at a time making for very slow going. It was actually faster to use a pair of scissors to cut scallions and herbs. And, I totally gave up on the sweet potatoes for the Tuscan White Bean Soup I was preparing. Replaced them instead with softer and easier to cut russets.

 Kitchen Knives & Cutting BoardsDisclaimer: these are not the mangled sweet potatoes. These picture-perfect wedges were cut at home in Montana. Do your knives cut this cleanly? If not, keep reading.

Kitchen knives that work with you rather than against you

Not all kitchen tools seem designed to work with you. As evidenced by those serrated knives and glass cutting surface (in good faith, I can no longer even call it a “cutting board.”)

I now understand the look of surprise and disbelief on the faces of the people in my cooking classes when I easily and thinly slice a jicama for example. Someone inevitably asks  “How’d you do that?”

The answer: a good knife. Which, for me, means well-balanced with a comfortable handle and weight and a thin blade that easily takes and maintains an edge. My favorites are made by Shun and Victorinox. Two brands at opposite ends of the price scale.

 Kitchen Knives & Cutting BoardsI waited a very long time to purchase my Shun chef’s knife. When it went on sale a couple of years ago at Williams Sonoma I ordered it immediately and have been oh so happy. I’ve never had a knife cut so cleanly and effortlessly through fruits and vegetables.

Life-time sharpening
BTW Shun offers life-time sharpening of their kitchen knives. A few days before we left for Arizona, I sent my knife to them. And, miracle of miracles, it arrived yesterday looking “mighty sharp.”

Life-time maintenance

  • Wash kitchen knives by hand, not in the dishwasher
  • Avoid soaking knives in water
  • After washing, rinse and towel dry immediately
  • Store in a knife block, knife case or knife sheath
  • Learn to use a sharpening or honing steel
    • Regular honing significantly extends the time between sharpening

Cutting boards
Plastic (polypropylene) or wood are my favorites as they are the easiest on kitchen knives. I love that plastic boards can go into the dishwasher, come in large sizes and even a few colors. Wood is good. Wood is great, though it needs extra care like hand-washing and regular oiling to keep it from drying out.

From my experience, glass is unacceptable. Besides being so hard that knives easily dull, the thud with each slice is disconcerting. Plus, glass breaks. Perhaps it could be used as a trivet . . . in the dining room.

You’ve read my thoughts . . . now share yours
Tell me about your favorite and least-favorite kitchen knives and cutting boards and even other kitchen tools. Which kitchen tools frustrate you the most?

Three highlights of our trip –

One: Our grandson at almost 8 months oldKitchen Knives & Cutting Boards

We enjoyed almost a week visiting with our grandson and his parents. Here’s a sweet photo of this very precious little boy. His smile alone melts hearts and brings much joy.






Two: Joshua trees in bloomKitchen Knives & Cutting Boards
We had never seen Joshua Trees before traveling in the southern Nevada desert. There was a many mile area heavily dotted with these unusual trees covered with huge ivory blossoms. Each blossom measures about 15 inches wide and 30 inches tall. Quite spectacular to see so very many flowers in this desert landscape.

Three: “Gastronomic glee and culinary contentment”Kitchen Knives & Cutting Boards
So says the ticket on the front of my colorful new Trader Joe’s Arizona tote bag. I was able to pick up a few favorites while there to bring back to Montana in our checked baggage.


Note: all opinions are my own. I have received no compensation from the companies and products mentioned in this post.

14 thoughts on “Kitchen Knives & Cutting Boards

  1. Precious! He is adorable. The information about knives is one more tip I need in my growing cooking experiences. Thanks.

  2. You have an AMEN sista from me. Once you’ve used something decent, you realize how tough it was before and wonder why did I suffer so long? Even my Chicago cutlery set, which is relatively inexpensive, is better than any ever-sharp type of knife, which mutilates everything. My go to knife is Furi. I also can’t stand glass cutting boards, they hurt my ears and they dull your knives 10x faster because of their unforgiving surface. Great post.

  3. What a beautiful grandson!! And I have never been to Trader Joe’s and so look forward to it when I get a chance.

    Thank you for info on knives. I have an ongoing struggle with my family not to leave knives in water etc. I have a magnetic strip that I use to store them so where is no concern re: bacteria growth in the block. Also, I love wood…it just feels better when I am cutting. Have you heard of sprinkling salt over the wood cutting board on occassion to disinfect?

    • Thank you, Kristi,
      R E S P E C T is the name of the game for kitchen knives and for wood cutting boards. I’ve heard of using fresh lemon juice along with salt for disinfecting/cleaning wood boards, but not salt alone. Tell me more when you have an opportunity.

  4. A woman after my own heart! Thanks for educating people about knives – the most used tool in the whole house! Many have never been educated and so when people come to visit, I offer the tips you shared above along with helping people know that cutting on ceramic will take the edge off a knife – why to always use a cutting board. All handles are not created equal and shopping for feel, balance. blade and ease of sharpening are different for different hands

  5. We have a house rule that no knife goes back into the block until it has been sharpened. We use a Wusthof sharpening tool and really like it. The house rule has worked great to keep all our knives sharp. Also, I really don’t think you can have too many cutting boards. I have 3 large, 2 medium and 2 small and we use them all. I have a glass one for looks only!

    • Sounds like a smart house rule for keeping your knives in great shape. That is a lot of cutting boards, Bernice. Do you have them in a number of colors for different tasks, or perhaps a large family in which everyone likes to help with the cooking? Good idea having the glass one for “looks only.”

      • When I sold the RV I had twice as many as I had in the house. I just love having enough so we can work in different parts of the kitchen. My husband and I do a lot in the kitchen together.

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