Instead of buying an entire cheap set of cooking knives, consider spending a little more to only buy the knives that you really need.

Most cooks agree that only three knives (and some say even one) are essential in the kitchen:

1. Chef's knife (also called a cook's knife). This is the daddy of all cooking knives. If you can afford to invest in only one quality knife, make it this one (it also makes a great gift for someone who loves to cook). The chef's knife has a long, wide blade between 6 and 10 inches long, with a straight spine and a curved cutting edge. It is mainly used for chopping and slicing, but it's pretty versatile, and you can use it for just about anything.

2. Paring knife. While a chef's knife can do just about anything, it's difficult to perform more delicate work with it. That's where the paring knife comes in. It looks like a mini-chef's knife with a blade between 2 and 4 inches long. It's great for trimming, peeling and coring veggies and fruit.

3. Serrated knife. This knife, which has a wavy, saw-like blade, is perfect for foods that have a hard texture on the outside, but are soft on the inside. It is mainly used for cutting bread, but it can be used to cut tomatoes, watermelon and other fruits and vegetables that might otherwise get crushed by a regular knife.

If you have these three quality cooking knives, you'll find that you can perform most tasks in the kitchen just fine.

For quality cooking knives at low prices, check out Metro Kitchen and Excalibur Cutlery and Gifts by clicking the links on the right side of this page. Both offer free shipping.



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