A paring knife, commonly referred to as a vegetable and fruit peeling knife, comes in a variety of blade shapes for a variety of uses:
Paring knife blade configurations:
- Spear Point – (Shown) This is the most versatile shape for performing any kind of paring work such as peeling and slicing vegetables and fruits.
- Fluting – Barely 3-inches long, and shaped like a short stout isosceles triangle, this parer brings the hand into the closest cutting contact with the food.
- Bird’s Beak – The arched spine and cutting edge of this parer resembles a heron’s bill. Perfect for cutting and peeling round fruits such as oranges, tomatoes, baby beets, or brussels sprouts.
- Serrated Edged – The serrated edged paring knife is ideal for slicing larger fruits and vegetables. It can be maneuvered easily around and it has the right angle to remove the skin easily from round objects. This type of paring knife has a serrated edge that won’t dull out as fast as a straight edge.
- Miniature Boning – This paring knife has a short S-shaped blade that’s used for boning small birds like quail or trim barbecued ribs.
- Sheep’s Foot – The profile of the tip resembles an animal’s hoof. Perfect for peeling and paring.
- Clip Point – This parer has a slightly upwardly curved cutting edge paired with a dropped spine creates a longer, slimmer tip for making small deep cuts. It’s ideal for eyeing potatoes and removing bruises from apples and pears. Many clip-point parers are stamped, rather than forged.
Paring knife blade materials:
High-carbon steel: High-carbon steel is an alloy of made from iron and carbon that is slightly harder than stainless-steel. High-carbon steel is more difficult to sharpen but keeps its edge longer than other metals.
Stainless-steel: Stainless-steel is an alloy comprised of Iron, Carbon, and Chromium. Although not quite as tough as high-carbon steel, it is easier to sharpen, more durable, and is rust resistance.
Ceramic: A ceramic blade is extremely hard; it is typically made of zirconium dioxide (ZrO2; also known as zirconia). It is is produced by dry pressing zirconia powder and firing it through solid-state sintering after which it is sharpened by grinding the edges with a diamond-dust-coated grinding wheel. Zirconia ranks 8.5 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, compared to 6 to 6.5 for hardened steel, and 10 for diamond. This very hard edge rarely needs sharpening. A ceramic paring knife is perfectly balanced and less heavy in the hand and is ideal for prep tasks. Best of all it is easy to clean.
Paring knife blade handles:
Paring knives are made from several types of handle materials wood (rosewood is the most common), a composite of wood and synthetics, synthetics, animal bone, and metal.
Paring knife popular brands
Below is a list of the best paring knife brands. The choice is based on an aggregate of online consumer’s reviews of each brand of paring knife in terms of their durability, ergonomics (design), handling, performance, and pricing, which can range from $15 to $60.
- Wusthof (Classic): Not as sharp out of the box as Japanese chef knives but well respected amongst chefs and home cooks. It features a small spearhead point blade made of high quality forged high-carbon stainless-steel that is hand-honed for razor like sharpness. The handle provides the necessary strength and ergonomics for comfort and performance. Also, the butt-end of the knife’s blade, next to the handle, is thicker making it practically impossible for your finger to slip onto the blade’s shape edge. (A safety feature included on all Wusthof knives.)
- Mac (Pro Series): Great performer but a little small for such a thick handle.
- Global: Well designed (One solid piece of high-carbon) with a unique handle which some may find to be uncomfortable.
- Kyocera (Advanced) Ceramic: Razor-sharp ceramic blade that never needs sharpening. Has a hard plastic handle that feels comfortable in the hand.
- Henckels: (Pro S): Not the sharpest knife in the drawer but well designed and comfortable in the hand.
- Forschner (Fibrox): An adequate inexpensive paring knife that has a cheap plastic handle and thin blade but will still get the job done.
Of the above group of paring knife brands, Wusthof, Global, and Henckles have the following important features:
- adequately retains their blade sharpness longer
- their handles fit to the blade so that food can’t collect
- are comfortable in the hand
- well constructed
- reasonably priced
*Investing in a knife sharpener or a honing steel will help keep your knife blades nice and sharp.
Filed under: Paring knife quality
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