Category Archives: Home & Living

Can Those Beautiful Ceramic Knives Cut It?

If I say the word ‘ceramic’, chances are you’d think of something delicate and pretty: blue-and-white china saucers, perhaps, or a vintage flower-sprigged teapot. You wouldn’t necessarily imagine brutal hardness and vicious sharpness. Unless, that is, you have tried one of the new breed of ceramic knives.

For 2,000 years the last word in knife technology has been steel in one form or another, whether old-fashioned carbon steel or the newer stainless-steel composites. The idea of making a knife from ceramic instead seems perverse. For ages I resisted ceramic blades because they look implausible, like toy knives for children.
ceramic knife
But when you pick one up and actually use it, there’s nothing childish about the cutting edge. These things are ferocious. They show no mercy on a cucumber or an onion. I’ve been experimenting with a white ceramic Santoku knife (£45) made by Kyocera, the leading Japanese brand. In the evening as I prep the vegetables for supper, I am startled by the ease with which it reduces carrots to thin batons, red pepper to slivers and celery to fine dice. The blade doesn’t look like a real blade, but the evidence is there on the chopping-board.

Roger Morgan-Grenville, who distributes these knives in Britain, says he has found that ‘consumers instinctively don’t believe that something so light’ could handle ‘heavyweight cutting’. At food exhibitions, he does a ‘ripe tomato test’, letting people try to cut as many pieces from a tomato as possible. Ceramic is certainly great for cutting juicy tomatoes into salami-thin slices, and it’s a bonus that – unlike carbon steel, which leaves a nasty rusty taste on lemons and tomatoes – it is as non-corrosive as a pottery mug.

The ceramic used for knives is not the same as china, however. The key ingredient is a rare mineral, mined in Australia, called zircon. After the zircon blade is fired, the ceramic becomes 50 per cent harder than steel. What’s more, it holds a sharp edge about 10 times longer, meaning these knives hardly ever have to be sharpened.

What’s the catch? Read it here.

Kitchen Stuff to Get

chef knife

Now before we get into cooking the really impressive stuff, we need to make sure you’re properly equipped. I love browsing kitchen stores and looking at all the cool gadgets, but honestly, most of the cool new kitchen things are completely unnecessary. In my opinion, things like burger presses, egg slicers, and pans with nonstick pockets made specifically for pancakes don’t provide enough value to justify their purchase, as well as the space they would take up in your cupboards. Observe this graph.

I think this is a good way to evaluate the use of a kitchen tool before buying it (also factor in cost, space it will take up, etc). For items that have one use, and that use is something easy like slicing an egg or forming a burger patty, just skip it. For things in the blue boxes, where they have one use that saves you a lot of hassle, or a lot of uses that save you a little hassle each, you’re the one who has to determine their usefulness. Things in green are necessities that everyone should have (imo). I’m going to share a few things that fall into the green box, but also some blue items as well that I, personally, would not want to live without.

1. A Good Knife.

2. Locking Metal Tongs.

3. Pizza Stone.

4. Garlic Press.

5. Meat Thermometer.

6. A Large Plastic Cutting Board.

7. Magnetic Knife Bar.

8. Grill pan.

9. The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs.

More kitchen stuff: