Facing the truth, standard kitchen knives are no match for heavy-duty use and won’t last long when put under stress. They don’t cut through flesh and bone, or pierce through the tough exteriors of fruits either. You need a tool that is specifically designed to be a splitter, such as a cleaver!
The precision and adaptability of a cleaver make it essential for cooks when it comes to cutting ingredients and taking on any kind of chopping job. It can be employed to create heavy, persistent beats, break apart meat, squash garlic, and additional activities!
To sum up, if you’re a beginner cook, an experienced chef, or even a selective buyer, having a cleaver is essential for your kitchen collection. Cooking chores can be made easy without buying a large selection of products; as long as you select the proper kitchen item with care.
But first, what is a cleaver?
Cleavers are hefty, edged blades that appear like square or rectangular-shaped axes. The weight and force of them pushing forwards allows them to chop through any hindrance that stands in their way. They cut up vegetables, fruits, meats, and bones with painstaking care so that the chef who is preparing the food can do so with ease.
What makes a cleaver so good?
Simply put, its sheer versatility! Whether it’s pounding, slicing, mincing, chopping, grinding, or dicing, the many functions of the cleaver make it an invaluable culinary tool!
Having this classic cutlery item helps to make difficult kitchen chores look effortless. You won’t need to bother changing to different knives.
In general, these massive blades are mainly used for cutting through meat and veggies with precision. The type and dimensions of the cleaver you pick should be considered meticulously, since it can have an effect on the flavour and presentation of your meal.
Basic cleaver uses
Knives called cleavers can be used in many ways in the kitchen, including cutting, slicing, dicing, and also mincing. In order to take advantage of all of these useful applications, two essential components are necessary.
Having a cutting board
Using a cleaver necessitates an initial cutting surface of a heavy, wooden board. Ensure your cutting board is firm, sturdy, and centered on your countertop. Be careful not to let the cleaver blade slip, as the large size of it could easily cause you to get injured while handling it.
Sporting the right grip
A large cleaver may seem intimidating, but if you position your grip appropriately, it should be easy to slice, dice, or mince whatever cooking challenge you are facing. At the start, the cleaver should be kept nearer the edge. Covering the handle with your thumb while curling the other fingers around the other side of it is the following move. This grip is utilized by chefs during regular tasks, including cutting up vegetables.
You can get more control with your grip by grasping the handle right where it is attached to the blade. Start off by positioning your thumb on one end of the chopping blade of the cleaver. Next, position your index finger on the other side. This is called the second grip. It is extremely vital to ensure that the pressure of your grip is balanced between your thumb and forefinger when utilizing a cleaver.
Use cleaver to chop and slice
You may have assumed that cleavers are only good for slicing through meat and bones, however, they are actually very useful for chopping up fruits and vegetables as well. Dicing, rough chopping, julienne cuts, are all possible cleaver uses:
- For chopping and slicing, use the second grip meant for added control.
- A smooth, downward motion will help you slice and chop, nice and slow.
- Lift the cleaver up each time before heading for the next slice.
When cutting with a downward motion, you can give the vegetables a light push with the cleaver before chopping them into the size you want. And this way, your chopped vegetables are all prepped.
Type of cleaver
Every society which consumes meat has created a particular version of the meat chopper. However, three types of cleavers have become primary contributors to the cleaver category. Let’s take a closer look at each one:
- Western-style cleavers run the full gamut of shapes and sizes. You’ll find straight and curved blades, short and long handles, and a wide range of weights. For ease of use, I strongly recommend straight blade cleavers. That way, you can put extra weight on the spine with your free hand to guide difficult cuts.
- Chinese cleavers are remarkably similar in appearance to their chef’s knives. They’re immediately recognizable for their rectangular blades and short, straight handles. The thicker spine and heavier blade differentiate Chinese cleavers from their chef’s knives. To cut effectively with a Chinese cleaver, you’ll use a pinch grip on the part of the blade nearest to the handle.
- Japanese cleavers, or chuka bocho, come in a wide variety of sizes. Because most Japanese regional cuisines focus more on fish than meat, their cleavers are made to accommodate this. Full tang handles ensure that even the smallest of Japanese cleavers are durable and long-lasting.
How to choose the best meat cleaver
Even if you don’t have experience with a meat cleaver, these tips will help you pick the best one for your cooking space. Experienced cooks will still discover some tidbits of knowledge here to enhance their decisions when it comes to selecting knives.
Meat cleavers out of all of the knives in the kitchen experience the most wear and tear. It is even more essential for these knives to be manufactured with strong materials.
Search for blades made of high-grade carbon stainless steel which are full tang built.
The full tang design offers strength and longevity by having the metal from the point of the blade reach to the end of the handle. This combination of high carbon stainless steel results in a durable, sharp-edged blade capable of completing any task.
The whole blade of a cleaver is essential, not just the edge, unlike other knives. This encompasses the stature, mass, duration, sharpness, and slenderness of the spine. And in every category, more really is better! The most effective meat choppers have long, hefty blades measuring a minimum of 6 inches. Moreover, they are made from one piece of high carbon steel to ensure the best and sharpest edge.
Old-fashioned meat cleavers usually had wooden handles. The reason wood was chosen for the handle is not necessarily because it is the ideal material, but since it was the only option available.
A young group of synthetic handles are now available that include features of both ergonomics and hygiene. Despite this, I like the sensation of a handle made out of real wood, particularly when it is on a knife from either China or Japan.
It is more critical that the handle’s form is correct, and that it can comfortably be held in your hand, rather than the material it is made from. A handle that is in the classic length and shape will provide the most secure hold.
I like to have an extra guard against accidents, so I prefer to use a cleaver with a full guard. Extending the connection between the handle and the blade (like my favorite option) will stop your index finger from slipping towards the cutting edge.
Care and Maintenance
Kitchen knives don’t get much tougher than meat cleavers. Still, you should not neglect rudimentary maintenance for them!
A modest amount of upkeep and attention can make a big difference for a meat cleaver. Ensure you dry them off with a towel and keep them free from moisture between uses. If you find that your cleaver has begun to have difficulty making cuts, you should sharpen it yourself or go to someone experienced in sharpening it.
Generally speaking, it is recommended that a cleaver should be sharpened every 6 months to a year. If you happen to make a dent in the blade by striking a bone incorrectly, it’s best to take the blade to a sharpener immediately. They can sharpen away the flaws, significantly increasing the durability of your cleaver.
It is highly unlikely that one can obtain a high-grade chef’s knife at a price tag of less than $100. But for a meat cleaver? I wouldn’t ever recommend paying over $100.
You will get quality cleavers in the budget of $30 to $60. It might be the only exclusion to this rule that a Japanese cleaver that was made traditionally. For the majority of kitchens, having a specialized knife as part of their collection is not necessary.
Best meat cleaver
Mercer cutlery chinese chef’s knife
This Mercer Culinary Chinese chef’s knife has two uses – as a cleaver and as a kitchen knife – and is priced affordably. This illustration of the combination Chinese kitchen knife type is suitable as it features a robust spine and a strong carbon steel blade. Coupled with a wood handle that provides great grip, it’s an unconventional but excellent kitchen apparatus.
The Mercer Cutlery’s blade utilizes Japanese steel, producing a magnificently sharp edge that endures for a considerable length of time. This material has gone through a special process after it is forged in order to hinder corrosion and staining, so that upkeep is minimal. If you give this knife a good hand wash and make sure to dry it right away, it will have a long life.
I particularly value the strong, sturdy back of this cleaver’s blade. Having plenty of weight and an area where extra pressure can be exerted for those difficult cuts is what it offers. Even though it’s almost a pound, this knife typically performs most of the tasks for you.
If this cleaver had a full tang design, it would have been my preferred option. That will make it last a bit less time than my other choices. This product is covered by a warranty that guarantees protection from any manufacturer flaws for a predetermined period of time.
- Crazy cheap for the quality of its construction
- Extra sharp Japanese steel blade
- A thick spine gives great leverage for cuts
- Lack of full tang construction makes it less durable
Wusthof classic cleaver
Those who need a cleaver that will be reliable for many years ahead should consider acquiring a Wusthof Classic series cleaver, which is known for its size, weight and level of sharpness. This item is made from one piece of heavy-duty high-carbon steel and is put together with long-lasting full tang construction. It has been constructed with the capability of cleaving through bone with ease, while being delicate enough to handle dicing and mincing as well.
This hefty cleaver by Wusthof is a no-nonsense tool, weighing more than one pound, although the blade itself is only six inches long. By packing a lot of weight into a relatively small blade, you can get the maximum strength when using a cleaver. Have you ever had difficulty cutting through meat and bones? This knife is the answer.
The necessity of a full tang design for your meat cleaver cannot be overemphasized. By connecting the blade of the cleaver to the handle with a single piece of steel, the knife will be much stronger and more durable. The increased price of the item caused by adding more material does not diminish the increased strength that the element provides to a blade.
In general, Wusthof’s Classic meat cleaver has the greatest slicing strength of any cleaver listed here. This item is remarkably solid, and if taken care of properly, you can give it to future generations of your family.
- Short, heavy blade makes for easy cuts through bone
- Full tang construction for maximum durability
- Sharp enough to handle mincing and dicing tasks
Dalstrong gladiator series cleaver
Those who are just starting out and those who are experts will both appreciate the high quality and sharpness of the Dalstrong cleaver.
A cleaver that is resilient and sturdy is formed by combining a blade made of high carbon steel with a full tang construction. A full bolster provides extensive coverage to your index finger. The weight of the knife surpasses one pound, allowing it to handle the tough cutting for you.
The Dalstrong blade is fashioned from German steel with a high carbon content and is expertly sharpened to an extremely crisp edge. The knife has a thick back, which adds to its heft and weight. The robustness of this item is guaranteed due to the fact that it has been formed from a single piece of steel, and a full tang construction ensuring it will last a long time.
I strongly suggest the full bolster design for this meat cleaver. Novice cooks will be at ease being aware that their fingers are shielded from inadvertently sliding onto the blade while cutting. Even the professionals will appreciate the heft and balance it contributes to the blade, as well as the skill to precisely cut with a pinching technique.
I get it if you’re not sure about buying a knife from a company that isn’t as well-known. Despite the potential risks, you’re safe thanks to Dalstrong’s assurance of full satisfaction. From my experience, the time and effort it takes to utilize this cleaver is totally worth it due to the performance it offers.
- Heavy-duty construction is built to last
- Sharp carbon steel blade also has great edge retention
- Full bolster protects your fingers while cleaving
- Heavyweight construction can be fatiguing for some cooks
How to take care of a cleaver
A cleaver is a chef’s best friend. Consequently, it needs to be given the greatest consideration and esteem. Ensuring the right care will allow the tool to provide you with years of healthy assistance with all your cleaver uses:
Cleaning, storing and maintenance of a cleaver
When deciding which cleaver to buy, it is best to find one that does not rust and can maintain a sharp edge. We will go into further detail regarding that in the part of the guide that explains how to pick out a knife. For now, you must ensure that:
- Never run a cleaver through dishwater or try soaking it in water, especially if the handle is wooden.
- Wash away with warm, soapy water.
- Wipe and dry the tool after each use.
- Clean cleaver blade immediately after using acidic substances.
- For best care, store in a knife block.
- Keep the knife away from humid areas, such as the sink and dishwasher top.