Paring knives are miniature yet sturdy instruments that are perfect for carrying out lots of common kitchen jobs. A paring knife and a chef’s knife together will be helpful when chopping up fruits and veggies for meals.
It is simpler to use a paring knife rather than a chef’s knife. Many people like to use them to chop fruits and vegetables as well as to remove their peel. The fact that they are small and can easily be managed make them excellent choices for tasks requiring precise cuts. A parer knife can come in handy when trimming and slicing fruits and veggies, or any other food item that needs to be held.
What Exactly is a Paring Knife?
A paring knife is ideal for cutting up certain types of produce, mostly fruit and vegetables, due to its tiny size and sharp blade. In comparison to other kitchen knives, these have much more slender and thinner blades that make them great for meticulous tasks such as removing fruit cores and peeling.
The blade of a paring knife is typically between three and four inches in length. Chef’s knife blades are typically six to twelve inches long, but these are much easier to manage.
This convenience of handling is especially useful when removing skins and working on finer details of fruits and vegetables. Due to the multiple uses of a paring knife, they are also often referred to as fruit or veggie knives.
Why You Need a Paring Knife
Most of the regular slicing activities in the kitchen, such as cubing an onion or cutting up a chicken, can be completed using a chef’s knife. Some positions necessitate utilizing a smaller, more precise instrument. A paring knife is generally a better option when you need to cut small items such as shallots, fruits, and vegetables. Any task that would be difficult with a large chef’s knife is better done with a paring knife – if I had to do emergency surgery in a kitchen, a paring knife would be what I prefer to use. Morbid? Maybe, but practical, too.
Due to their diminutive size, paring knives offer various holds and slicing techniques: You can finely mince a shallot while cutting it on a board, or try the “grandma-style”* by lifting the knife with the food in possession and allowing the clipping or pieces to fall into the container you have placed underneath.
In addition, they are useful for performing miscellaneous tasks in the kitchen. Are you uncertain as to whether your cake is cooked through in the middle and you can’t locate a cake skewer? Need to test the tenderness of a roasted beet? A paring knife is useful when you need one quickly, as it is very small and narrow so that there will be no visible evidence that it has been inserted into the food.
Paring knives are great for taking off the skins of onions or garlic – much better than just trying to do it with your fingers alone, with them not getting in properly under the skin and pulling it off.
To be frank, I usually take a paring knife when cutting through difficult wrappings like vacuum-packed bags, even though it’s probably not the best thing to do for its edge. I’m not ashamed to admit that I have been known to mistreat my paring knives on occasion.
How to use a Paring Knife – Skills and Technique
Here is all the information you need regarding the utilization of paring knives for cooking tasks, from peeling vegetables to cutting up fruits for a salad.
Having a good grip on a kitchen knife and feeling comfortable with it in your hands is absolutely essential. The thin handle of a paring knife provides a powerful grip that enables you to manipulate the blade as if it was a part of your body.
Here is an overview of the most essential handle grips to begin with for a paring knife.
- Grip the handle of the paring knife with your thumb sticking out, a lot like the hitchhiker sign.
- Hold the fruit or vegetable you’re peeling with your non-dominant hand.
- Secure the position of the ingredient with your thumb and rotate or move the ingredient with the other hand as you peel.
- Pinch the blade a lot like holding a chef’s knife and start slicing.
- For tasks that require precision, like removing the peel of an orange or coring an apple, place your index finger on the heel (the back, dull part) of the blade. Doing this will help you guide the blade when applying force. Japanese chefs mainly prefer this grip technique, whether working with a gyuto or any other knife.
These are two key ways you can use paring knives in the kitchen promptly. Using a paring knife isn’t just restricted to removing the skin and slicing fruits and vegetables. You could utilize paring knives to cut, dice, and finely chop any food item that you feel is suitable for the size of the blade.
Uses of a Paring Knife
Aside from chopping and taking the peel off of fruits and vegetables, a paring knife can be used to chop up items like Brussels sprouts, jalapeños, baby carrots, strawberries, raspberries, and grapes.
Because of the slim and lightweight design, paring knives are the perfect tool for carrying out precise and intricate cuts. These are some ways you can use a paring knife for accurate cutting.
Segmenting Citrus Fruits
You can divide up citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, pomelos, and limes to showcase on a serving dish, which can improve their appearance and make them simpler to consume by taking away the rubbery membrane and the sour pith.
A paring knife is more convenient for cutting into citrus fruits than a chef’s knife. This is a guide on how to cut citrus into sections using a paring knife.
- Cut the bottom and top ends of the citrus to place it flat on the cutting board.
- Slice off the peel and pith to reveal the fruit.
- Once you’re left with juicy citrus, hold it in your hand and cut in between the membranes and take out the segments.
- After segmenting any citrus fruit, don’t let the membrane go to waste. Use the leftovers to make juices as there is still plenty of fluids left in the membranes.
There are specific items created only to remove the veins from shrimps, however, a regular paring knife is just as effective. You don’t need any additional utensils if you understand how to use your paring knife. This is how to remove the vein from shrimp using a small paring knife.
- Start deveining shrimp by making a thin slit along the back of the shrimp to reveal the dark vein.
- Slip the pointed tip of the paring knife underneath the vein and pull it out.
- If the shrimp isn’t pre-cleaned, peel it by getting your thumb beneath the shell and gently remove it from the meat. Once you pull the shell, squish the bottom of the tail where it joins the meat and remove the tail from the shrimp. What you’re now left with is a shrimp ready to devein.
- Peeling and deveining a shrimp is easy as that. We highly recommend doing this step yourself as cleaned shrimp tend to cost more.
Although there are various items that may be peeled, a paring knife can be the ideal tool to use as a peeler once you become experienced. When using a paring knife to remove the skin of an apple, firmly hold the fruit in place and take your time. Otherwise, it may result in accidents.
- Hold the apple firmly in your non-dominant hand and grip the knife’s handle with your thumb up, securing the apple in place.
- Starting from the top to bottom, peel the skin slowly in circular motions.
- The goal is to peel the skin of an apple in one take, removing the skin in a single, long piece. It’s not just apples that you can peel with a paring knife. Use it to peel any fruit and vegetable you see fit, such as peaches, pears, potatoes, onions, and more. You can even peel tiny fruits like grapes using a paring knife.
Cutting narrow cuts into the exterior of the meat will assist in it cooking evenly and letting out any additional fat. Cutting the meat into slices helps to make chewing the tougher pieces easier, as well as aiding with the absorption of marinades.
- Make 1/8 to 1/4 slits on the surface of the meat, one inch apart.
- Once one side is complete, rotate to add a crosshatch pattern.
A paring knife is advantageous when cutting into beef since the thin blade is comfortable to hold. Without doubt, you can cut up the meat with a chef’s knife, but the lightness and small size of a paring knife makes it easier for the majority of chefs to manage.
Other uses of Paring Knives
Here are some instances in which you can use a paring knife. A paring knife can be used for any job that needs to be done. Utilizing a paring knife in the kitchen, not just for fruits and veggies, can assist you in completing tasks in a rapid manner.
Types of Paring Knives
The smallest blade length for a parer’s knife is two and three-quarters inches, which is a size suitable for a bird’s beak knife. On the other hand, the longest blade can reach up to four and a half inches, which is nearly the length of a utility knife. Most, though, have blades between three and four inches.
Besides the length of the blade, it is important to know that paring knives come in three forms: bird’s beak, traditional, and sheep’s foot.
- Bird’s beak, also known as a trimming or tourné knife, has a concave blade shape similar to that of a sickle. It is particularly cut out (huh, sorry) for trimming, peeling, and detailed knife-work tasks that most home cooks don’t need to worry about.
- Classic paring knives, which I’ve sometimes seen described as “spear tip,” have a slight belly on the blade, sort of like a pared-down (oh god, sorry) chef’s knife.
- Sheep’s foot (a.k.a. flat) paring knives look like heavily whittled (just stop me already) santokus, with a flat blade edge and rounded spine near the tip.
- There are a few other shapes and names that pop up from time to time—like the “clip point” paring knife, which just describes a knife with a tip that tapers more dramatically—but they’re less important to know about.
What to Look for when Buying a Paring Knife
There is no one-size-fits-all guideline for determining what changes a knife into a superior one, as each individual has particular desires they want in a cooking knife. You are the one who must decide what you want in a paring knife and then buy the appropriate one.
It is still important to consider a few aspects before purchasing a paring knife. Here is what to consider.
The ideal paring knife should feature a sharp, pointed tip and a sharp blade. The size of the blade can range from 3 to 5 inches in length, and the majority of paring knives typically have a 3.5 inch blade. Some paring knives also come with a curved blade.
It is best to not spend more than $20 on a paring knife, but when you look at aspects such as the material, the manner in which it was created, the shape of the grip, and the standard, you could pay a higher amount. It is not true that a more costly knife will necessarily be of superior quality. Be certain to buy a knife that you feel good about holding that is not too heavy. See if you can test the feel of the paring knife before buying it to make sure it fits comfortably in your hand.
How to Care for a Paring Knife?
Looking after a paring knife isn’t a lot distinct from looking after any other knife that is used in the kitchen. The same methods for taking care of items should be used for paring knives too. This is how to maintain your paring knife in excellent condition.
Maintaining a sharp paring knife is necessary for successful tasks given its purpose. A lot of fruits and vegetables contain organic acids that can cause oxidation. Be sure to clean and dry your stainless steel paring knife after each use to prevent corrosion of the blade and the handle.
Rinse off a paring knife with soapy water by hand and scrub any difficult spots with the less rough side of a sponge. Run the item under some warm water and then pat it dry with a fresh cloth. This is the recommended means of cleaning knives, however, you should also avoid a few specific things.
- Don’t put your knives in the dishwasher.
- Don’t leave your knives soaking in water.
- Don’t leave your knives wet after rinsing.
Sharpening and Honing
Maintaining the sharpness of the edge of the knife and honing it regularly is essential in keeping it in decent condition. You don’t need to sharpen a paring knife very often compared to a chef’s knife since its blade is thinner. If you maintain a regular schedule of sharpening the blade of a paring knife every two weeks, the metal will be gradually worn away, resulting in a dull blade, which must be replaced in order to have a sharp edge.
Sharpen your paring knife frequently to straighten out any warped edges. Gain further knowledge of methods for sharpening a knife and the art of honing.
It is essential to use correct storage techniques for all of your kitchen utensils, not just your paring knife. If knives aren’t kept safely in the kitchen, the blade may be impaired, making it necessary to sharpen and refine it more frequently. Storing knives in an improper way can dull the blade and even cause it to chip or break completely if it is a ceramic knife.
We recommend using suitable storage apparatus, such as in-drawer knife racks or magnetic strips, to prevent blades from coming into contact with each other and to safeguard them from harm.