The paring knife is one of the smallest kitchen knives but perhaps one of the most versatile. The blade is normally around 2 ½ to 4 inches long and looks like a miniature chef’s knife but is used very differently. The paring knife is used for precise and delicate jobs that require a finesse not possible with a larger blade.
The design of a paring knife is relatively simple but there are still a few pointers to remember when buying one to ensure you get the best knife for your money. When professional cooks and chefs select a paring knife, they tend for ones made from high-carbon steel and a forged knife that has a full tang, which means the blade metal, runs all the way through from the tip of the knife to the opposite end of the handle.
The blade of a forged knife is made from heated metal and then each blade is hammered individually. The very best knives use a mixture of alloys that means the blade sharpens well and stays sharp longer as well as being resistant to corrosion. High-carbon stainless steel blades with a Rockwell rating of 55 or more are the ones professionals go for. The Rockwell scale measures the hardness of steel and will normally be listed on the product description or packaging of the knife.
For the handle, look for one that is a precise fit with no gaps. It should feel comfortable in the hand and secure, not like it will slip when you use it. There are plenty of different materials used in handles from wood to Bakelite to stainless steel so, which you choose is down to personal preference.
Why buy a paring knife?
There are many hundreds of jobs that a paring knife can do around the kitchen better than other knives or that other knives simply cannot contemplate being used for. Here are a few ideas:
- Peeling fruit and vegetables
- Slicing garlic cloves or shallots
- Cutting precise shapes or vents into dough
- Scoring designs or patterns onto food
- Removing ribs from jalapeno chillies
- Coring an apple or other fruit
- Hulling strawberries or other types of berry
- Sectioning citrus fruit
- Deveining shrimps
Product suggestionWusthof Gourmet 3-Inch Paring Knife
This is a fine example of a paring knife from world famous knife makers Wusthof. This knife is available with either a 3-inch or 4-inch blade that is made from high carbon steel and also finished with a stain-resistant alloy. The handle is made from synthetic polypropylene and is double riveted for extended durability while the blade is precisely tapered from the base to the tip. This knife is made in Germany to the company’s high standards and will easily take on precision jobs from coring and dicing to mincing and shaping.
The paring knife may not be as flashy as the chef’s knife or the utility knife but this small and very sharp knife can do so many jobs around the kitchen, it becomes indispensable. By investing in a good quality knife, you will also have a kitchen utensil that will be with you for a very long time.