You know that special item set in a game that you’ve been dying to get for 100+ hours but just haven’t attained for one reason or another? Like, you know from the start that having said items is going to make your life a million times easier, yet the act of obtaining the set just ends up on the backburner of tasks? That’s how it’s been with me and ceramic knives…in real life. (Though, really, ceramic knives ought to be in any dual-wielding rogue’s stash because of their awesomeness!)
It had to be some dozen years ago that I saw my first ceramic knife – used by a chef on television. (Granted they had been around for a while, but it wasn’t exactly like I had been following kitchen knife trends.) Watching the smooth, white blade in action was fascinating and foreign, and I just had to know more. And the more I learned about ceramic knives, the more I wanted one for my kitchen. Just one, because a single ceramic blade ran about the cost of a respectable stainless steel knife set. But at the time it was a difficult purchase for me to justify as I had recently received not one but two stainless knife sets, both of which functioned well enough for me to push the thought of getting ceramic cutlery to the back corners of my mind.
Fast forward to December 2014 when family members start with the “what do you want for Christmas?” inquiries. When I started listing things, my practicality got the best of my as I thought of all the household things that need replacing, such as my poor, leaky iron and a set of sauté pans that had seen better days. Then my thoughts turned towards more kitchen items and, in particular, my cutlery set. Remember last paragraph when I mentioned that I had had two knife sets? As of last December, I still had one of them, and it was in bad shape. On a whim, I headed online to look up what fun advancements had been made in knives since I last considered them, and that’s when I rediscovered ceramic blades (plus all sorts of other crazy fun stuff, like printed blades, titanium knives, and nonstick sets). But the best thing of all was that ceramic knife sets were now totally affordable and held their own against some of the best knives in the world! Long story long, I put “ceramic knife set” on my Christmas list, and Santa brought me this very nice set:
This is the 6-piece set is from Cuisinart, and it contains (from top to bottom in the image directly above) a santoku knife, a bread knife, a chef’s knife, a utility knife, and a paring knife. And the whole thing is perfectly brilliant! In fact, I didn’t realize just how bad/dull/imbalanced my other knives were until I started using the ceramic knives.
One of the first things I learned about ceramic blades was how delicate they were. Sure, the blades are incredibly sharp and strong, but they’re prone to cracking if you’re not careful with them. (I don’t lend much credence to “break resistant” claims – ceramic isn’t that, even if it’s specially formulated and such.) So they aren’t good for everything. The manual for these blades told me straightway not to use them for butchering (i.e. cutting through bone), and to only use them on wood and poly (plastic) cutting boards. (So no more chopping things in a jiffy right on my stoneware or Corningware dinner plates.) The manual also warned against placing the knives in the dishwasher – extremely high water temperatures and pressure could cause pitting. The rules for the knives basically boiled down to “HANDLE WITH EXTREME CARE!”
For that reason, using the knives, even a month in, continues make me a little nervous. But the wondrous thing about them is that they make you want to be careful. Not that I was flailing about with my stainless knives before, but for me, using them meant I had to unlearn how brutishly I had been dealing with my food under knives before. The ceramic blades are so sharp that much less pressure is required to make cuts. And the cuts that they make are very precise. No more getting caught on a gristly bit of raw chicken. No more cheese sticking to a blade. No more irregularly shaped veggies in the stir-fry.
So far, the santoku blade has gotten the most use – it’s just a great, all-around knife for everything, from steak to broccoli to pineapple. The paring knife makes short work of peeling. The bread knife is truly forgiving, even with the softest homemade loaf. The utility knife works great with slicing cheese – even warmed brie doesn’t stick to it! And the chef’s knife is perfect for preparing loads of chicken for buffalo chicken pizza. In short, this knife set is that best thing that’s happened to my kitchen since…since…well, probably when I got my first real cutlery set.
Now, I still have my old knife set to use when I can’t use the ceramic knives, like when having to cut through something that’s particular hard or requires a bit of flexibility, which only stainless allows. But the ceramic set, despite the high maintenance, has become my go-to for general meal prep. If you’re in the market for new knives, don’t discount the ceramic ones. This dual-wielding rogue simply can’t imagine her kitchen without them!
While Cary’s happy to talk food here, she’s also pretty good at doling out words about video games at United We Game while simultaneously maintaining her own blog, Recollections of Play. You can also find an archive of fun, geeky articles from her and like-minded souls at Geek Force Network.