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Why Paring Knives Are Important in the Kitchen
Just like to-do lists, bigger is not always better when it comes to kitchen knives, and added size doesn’t always translate into added functionality. As long as a blade is long enough to make a clean cut, then bigger cutlery often just means, well, bigger cutlery (and additional storage space).
A paring knife is probably the smallest kitchen knife you’ll come across. But don’t let its diminutive size fool you — a paring knife plays many important roles in the kitchen and is in fact one of the most recommended pieces of cutlery for any cook (second only to a chef’s knife).
What Are Paring Knives?
A paring knife is best described by its short size. The typical blade length is between 2.5 to 4 inches, with the entire knife under 10 inches.
This small size fits comfortably in your hand, making it a perfect utility knife for detailed work, poking into hard-to-reach areas, and of course, paring or peeling delicate ingredients. While a peeler can also be used to remove skin from say, an apple or pear, it would all but puree a ripe tomato, peach, or grape.
A paring knife, however, can handle these tasks with precision. The many other uses for a paring knife are to devein shrimp, mince shallots, scrape out seeds, slice cheese or sausages, and segment citrus. Basically, if a chef’s knife is too big for the job, reach for your paring knife.
3 Paring Knives Blade Styles
Aside from being short, paring knives come in three basic blade styles, each with their own distinct shape and corresponding function.
The classic style, or spear point paring knife, features a slightly curved cutting edge with a pointed tip. This is the shape of most chef’s knives. Classic paring knives offer the most all-around use, as the sharp blade can cut with ease and the pointed tip can help test if a dish has finished cooking.
For classic paring knives, look to Calphalon, MAC Knife, or Misen collection, which includes a popular paring knife, with a 3.1-inch blade.
2. Sheep’s Foot
The second most popular paring knife style is the sheep’s foot, which is a flat bottom blade. The top of the blade is also mostly flat, with a gentle slope toward the tip, similar to the shape of a santoku knife.
This flatness is preferable for repeated mincing and slicing, as the entire sharp edge of the blade makes contact with the cutting board. With a knife this size, you won’t use the back-and-forth rocking motion that you would with a chef’s knife. Brands that offer paring knives with a sheep’s foot silhouette include Kuhn Rikon, Wüsthof, and Zwilling J.A. Henckels.
3. Bird’s Beak
A bird’s beak, also known as a trimming or tourné knife, is the third of the paring styles and has a concave, sickle-like silhouette. Although not as common as the others, a bird’s beak does offer its own unique use. Its sharp curve is an exact fit for similarly curved ingredients — potatoes, melons, grapefruit, etc. — while its exaggerated tip is perfect for hulling strawberries or carving out avocado pits. You can find bird’s beak paring knives from Shun and Victorinox Swiss Army.
Basic Paring Knife Features
Paring knives are usually made of stainless steel, high-carbon steel, and ceramic. Given their utilitarian functions, however, sturdy stainless steel will perform better than a ceramic paring knives, which can be brittle and irreparable if even slightly damaged.
Stainless steel is not just the most durable of the three materials, it’s also resistant to rust and corrosion. Their “stainless” nature (thanks to the addition of chromium) makes these knives less prone to discoloration, so they’ll require much less maintenance. Most well-made paring knives also feature a full tang — with the steel running the entire length of the knife, including the handle — which makes them even more durable.
The handle is another part to consider in a paring knife. Although an important feature in all knives, the handle of a paring knife is a big consideration — it’s literally half of the knife. As such, you want one with a balanced weight and comfortable, ergonomic grip that allows you to perform all kinds of cutting with ease.
Of course, the best paring knife feature is that it comes at a very affordable price. A good paring knife should cost about $25-40, and with proper use and care, will last you many years.
Using a Paring Knife
Paring knives are comparatively small, which allows for a variety of different grips and cutting methods. In addition to standard slicing on a cutting board, you can also cut into items by directly taking the knife to the object (like how you would peel an apple).
To devein shrimp, for example, hold the handle of your paring knife in your dominant hand (the same way you would hold a piece of chalk) and hold one peeled shrimp in your nondominant hand with the shrimp spine facing outward. Make a shallow cut along the shrimp spine to expose the dark vein, and use the tip of the blade to gently lift the vein out.
To segment a citrus, on the other hand, first slice off the ends, rind, and pith (place the citrus on a cutting board for this step). Then, hold the citrus gently but firmly in your nondominant hand and insert the paring knife between the flesh and clear membrane, making sure not to actually cut the membrane. Make your way around the citrus until all the segments have been cut. Use the length of the blade to gently pry each segment away from the membrane for a perfect ready-to-eat wedge.
Storing a Paring Knife
Small, but no less sharp than other cutlery, paring knives require unique storage. The quickest solution would be if you already use a magnetic knife strip or bar where paring knives can easily stay. If you prefer using a drawer, opt for slide-in inserts that can be adjusted for size so bare knife blades aren’t jostling around in a drawer, or use a sheath or guard that can cover the blade before storing.
Cut Down to Size
Paring knives are small but stealthy kitchen tools. They can perform a range of tasks — peeling, deseeding, scoring, etc. — much better than a larger knife can. With so much functionality at such an affordable price, a paring knife is an essential tool to have at your fingertips.
Now after learning about the importance of having paring knives in your kitchen, let’s jump into today’s topic and review (6 OF THE BESTSELLING PARING KNIVES IN 2021).
#6 TUO Paring Knife – 3.5 inch Peeling Knife German HC Steel
Each Knife of the Black Hawk series will make you have a great knife using experience after our constant trial and improvement.
In fact, he did. Featuring special-forged high-carbon stainless steel, the Black Hawk series have been forged elaborately through countless premium processes and more than 60 days and nights in continuous polish and workmanship.
Black Hawk Series are designed to be a combination of simple beauty and practical functionality. They look calm and atmospheric, and every curve and angle of the handle is ergonomically designed for a comfortable and ambidextrous hold.
“Each Knife of the Black Hawk series will make you have a great knife using experience after our constant trial and improvement.In fact, he did. Featuring special-forged high-carbon stainless steel, the Black Hawk series have been forged elaborately through countless premium processes and more than 60 days and nights in continuous polish and workmanship. Our Black Hawk Series are designed to be a combination of simple beauty and practical functionality. They look calm and atmospheric, and every curve and angle of the handle is ergonomically designed for a comfortable and ambidextrous hold.” One satisfied reviewer said
But he continued by saying “Except for one thing . During the handle polishing process, the belt grinder or buffer wheel that was used took off the wood before it took off the steel. This occurs typically when there’s slack and or too coarse of a grit on the belt grinder. The result is a razor sharp edge on the op and bottom of the steel tang and handle pins. Its sharp enough to shave my fingernails, but doesn’t quite cut the skin.”
So because this problem this knife “will likely be unacceptable without gloves”
#5 Victorinox Cutlery 2 1/4- inch Bird’s Beak Paring Knife, Black Polypropylene Handle
This Swiss Classic Shaping Knife is an essential tool for delighting in the details: the tool with which you create the finishing touches that transform a meal into an event. So whether you’re a home cook or a professional chef, define your details with the precision-designed curved blade of this small knife, which will make creating a swan from a carrot or a rose from a tomato an easier task. Because with our Shaping Knife, you imagine it, you shape it, and you simply create it.
Which makes this type of paring knives Ideal for decorating and garnishing fruit and vegetables.
“Absolutely the best bird’s beak knife I have bought.
They last forever it seems – I have 2 and I’ll never buy another brand, because others just don’t make them easy for the hand, with an adequately curved blade and well balanced like this one. I’ve never cut myself on this style and make. I’ve found it easy to sharpen and it holds the sharpness a long time. And it is so very, very affordable.” one very satisfied reviewer.
Another reviewer says “Never had bird beak knife before but was easy to become accustomed to. Great for peeling garlic or other tiny detail work such as coring fruit etc.”
#4 KYOKU Paring Knife – 3.5″ – Shogun Series – Japanese VG10 Steel Core Damascus Blade
The 3.5″ Japanese samll paring knives weighs merely 4 oz. and will get the job done flawlessly. This fruit paring knife is ideal for mincing herbs, slicing fruit, peeling vegetables, cutting cheese, etc. The gorgeous herringbone pattern on the base of the tang unveils the stunning craftsmanship and the peeling knife’s luxurious identity. The paring knife’s blade is made from high quality 67-layered stainless Damascus steel and has been cryogenically treated for heightened wear-resistance.
(Made of cryogenically-hardened VG-10 steel wrapped between Damascus steel folded 33 times, the Shogun Series is the apex of modern Japanese cutlery, retaining its ultrafine edge and resisting corrosion to outlast the competition.)
“Purchased this with two other Kyoku Daimyo knives around 3 months ago. Still sharp as all get out. I would recommend this for someone looking into a Japanese steel knife.”
“This isn’t the best Damascus blade I own, but it is still quite nice, and there is no noticeable cost-cutting quality issues of any kind here, just an excellent addition to my collection and I look forward to using it daily.”
#3 ZYLISS Paring Knife with Sheath Cover, 3.5-Inch Stainless Steel Blade, Green
The Zyliss 3.5 in. Paring Knives are the perfect ‘go-to’ knife. The knife has a short blade that provides maximum maneuverability for delicate kitchen tasks. The blade is comprised of high-carbon stainless steel that retains its super sharp edge for prolonged use. The blade is also easy to re-sharpen. This paring knife offers an ergonomic handle with a soft touch rubber grip that’s easy to hold, even when hands are wet. The Zyliss Paring Knife includes a blade cover that encourages safe storage in the kitchen or on the go traveling.
“This knife is great, regardless of how cheap it is. I have an expensive set of knives at home and wanted one with a cover to take with me. I have a Pure Komachi chef’s knife, paring knife and smaller cutting board for when we travel and use rental condos.” says one very satisfied customer.
Other customers describe these knives as “sharp” and “easy to hold”
#2 ZYLISS 3-Piece Peeling & Paring Knife Set
The Zyliss 3-Piece Peeling & Paring Knives Set offers a useful collection of cutlery pieces designed to accomplish specialized food prep tasks. This set of peeling and paring knives is available in corrosion-resistant stainless steel that offers extremely sharp cutting edges. Featuring soft, ergonomically designed handles, these knives provide a comfortable, non-slip grip. All knives also include plastic protective blade covers for safe storage and transport.
Set includes: (one) 2.25 in. bird’s beak knife, (one) 3.25 in. serrated paring knife and (one) 3.25 in. straight edge paring knife
“Love these knives. I take one with me to work in my lunch bag for cutting my fruit. Very sharp, and easy to handle. Use the other two knives at home for fruit. Best purchase:)” writes one reviewer.
Another calls these “Nicely designed and well built. Great value.”
“I love these knives. I especially like the curved blade. I must have about ten of this brand now. The first ones I either lost the blade covers or disn’t bother to put them on, so they did dull in the drawer will all the other utensils piled in loosely. But if you wash them separately, dry immediately, and slip the cover on, they stay *sharp*. They fit the hand very nicely.” says one five-star reviewer, who appreciate this knife set.
#1 Victorinox 4-Inch Swiss Classic Paring Knife with Straight Blade, Spear Point, Black
paring knives are every chef’s go-to tool for precision jobs in the kitchen, and our Swiss Classic Paring Knife 10 cm is a knife drawer standout not only for its fresh color palette but also for its sharp edge and pointed tip. Expertly remove pepper seeds, swiftly core an apple, slice a pile of vegetables into sticks or finely dice them into perfect little squares – whatever job you give it, the smooth, uniform cuts of this Paring Knife will result in dishes that are as beautiful as they are nutritious.
Maintaining your Knife’s Edge
For optimum performance, paring knives should be honed after every couple of uses. Proper and frequent use of a honing steel will keep your knives sharper and performing at their best, but remember that a honing steel will not sharpen a dull knife.
Honing steels are maintenance tools and are used to help keep an already sharp blade from degrading. During use, a knife edge becomes rolled or turned from direct contact with cutting boards, bones or other hard objects.
In this case, honing is necessary to straighten the edge of the knife. After significant use, the steel particles become damaged and the edge cannot be brought back by honing, so sharpening is necessary for paring knives.
- Perfect for cutting and preparing vegetables, fruits and other food
- Swiss made paring knife with straight edge
- With an ultra sharp straight edge and ergonomic handle
“This knife is a game changer” starts one five-star reviewer, who appreciates that these paring knives are ” excellent with small things like garlic cloves, radishes, etc.”
“This will sound odd, but I haven’t had a super sharp kitchen knife in a long time and I just (accidentally) touched the base of the blade and cut myself. I’m not going to say it’s too sharp (outstanding to cut a tomato), but be aware. It’s so light weight that I almost did the same thing to my other hand. Putting a warning that it’s really sharp sounds ridiculous, and I don’t think I would have paid that any mind, but if you haven’t used an exceedingly sharp knife in awhile, know that this one has a sharp blade down to the the hilt and just touching it can cause an accident!”