Tools of the Tray - Cheese Knives 101
Updated: Sep 16, 2020
An overview of cheese knives and their uses!
Prior to starting savoryplatters, my cheese skills definitely needed some work. I will admit I didn't know how to properly prepare cheese slices for my platters, boards or grazing tables. Most of my attempts, to creating cheese slices, was to use a chef's knife I had in my kitchen. As I would try to re-create cheese slices that I would see online, a chef's knife just really didn't cut it!
My first mistake, was the chef knife. I found it was almost impossible to get the knife completely through any block or wheel of cheese. The knife's blade usually got stuck to the cheese resulting me pulling the blade away and tearing the cheese apart. I didn't give up and for the next slice, I would grab a serrated knife which didn't help either. It made slicing a block of cheese a little easier however, it would leave ridge marks in both the block and slice of cheese.
Then I had an idea, which I like to call mistake number two. Instead of attempting to slice any cheese before hand, I would put the whole block or wheel of cheese on the platter and rest a kitchen knife beside it in hopes that my guests would have a better chance of making their own slices than me doing it ahead of time. This did n't work either and during the course of the evening I would waste time rummaging through my kitchen drawers to find any knife that would get the job done.
So, I have to ask...have you done this too?
Well, I have found a very simple answer to all my cheese slicing, dicing and cutting problems... purchase a set of good cheese knives!
When I brought home my first set of cheese knives, I will admit, I was definitely intimidated by their unusual looking style and design. It also didn't help that I had no idea exactly how to use them. I did some research to gain a better understanding on cheese knives. I now love using my cheese knives and I couldn't be without them.
Investing in a good set of cheese knives is the same as investing in a set of good kitchen knives. Using the proper cheese knife for the right type of cheese (soft, semi-soft, semi-hard and hard) will make slicing, dicing, cutting and spreading your cheese tasks that much easier.
Cheese Knife Guide
The set of cheese knives in the image below are my personal "go-to" knives when I prepare different types of cheeses for my platters, boards and grazing tables. To understand which cheese knife to use, we have to understand the different types of cheeses first. Each cheese knife has been designed for a specific type of cheese to perform a specific task.
Five Cheese Types:
Fresh: i.e.: burrata, ricotta, chèvre, goat log
Soft: i.e.: brie, camembert, mozzarella
Semi-Soft: i.e.: havarti, swiss, fontina, gorgonzola
Semi-Hard: i.e.: beemster, provolone, cheddar, colby
Hard: i.e: parmesan, gruyere, pecorino romano, asiago
I have outlined, below, my collection of cheese knives. You don't have to stock your kitchen with all of them, but a set of 4 'key' cheese knives will definitely do the trick!
The first 4 cheese knives are recommended:
Soft Cheese Spreader = Fresh Cheeses
Soft Cheese Knife (or a Brie Knife) = Soft Cheeses
Semi-Soft / Semi-Hard Cheese Knife = Semi-Soft / Semi-Hard Cheeses
Hard Cheese Knife (or a Parmesan Knife) = Hard Cheeses
Cheese Knives for Platters and Grazing Tables
When I place cheese knives out for my guests to use, I do like smaller cheese knives. The handles are not as long as the cheese knives above, and are easier for your guests to handle when they wish to make individual slices of cheese for themselves.
Below is my smaller set of cheese knives. You can select from a long or short handle, however these four style of knives will make the task of slicing or cutting a piece of cheese effortless!
These particular knives come as a set to take away the guess work on cheese pairings.
Display your cheese knives!
Take away the guess work for your guest too, by placing the proper cheese knife beside the cheese you are serving. Having a variety of decorative cheese knives sets can compliment the look and style of your platters and grazing tables.
In my next blog - Tools of the Tray - Guide to Cheese Knives 102, we will explore each cheese knife individually for more insight into their designs, purposes and uses.
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