Among the various kinds of kitchen knives used in food preparation, the paring knife is one of the most utilized. It is an all-around knife approximately 10 to 18 centimeters long with a small, plain edge. Knowing how to use it enables you to maximize its purpose, but what is a paring knife used for?
A paring knife is one of the must-have tools in every kitchen. It is extremely versatile, performing everything from cutting and chopping fruits and vegetables to cleaning seafood products. More importantly, it is easy to use and doesn’t need any chef skills to maneuver safely.
Table of Contents
What Is a Paring Knife Used for?
I personally like to use it to open packages and some of those things you buy that are in those almost impossible to open plastic packets. However, here we are supposed to discuss food related stuff.
A paring knife can be used in any way you want it. However, there are four most common tasks that it is used for. Here’s how to maximize this mighty tool:
- Coring tomatoes, strawberries, bell peppers, and other small fruits or veggies
Removing the core of small fruits and vegetables is best done using a serrated knife. However, a paring knife, which is readily available in any kitchen, can perfectly do it too.
- Zesting lemon, oranges, and other citrus fruits
While a handy peeler is intended for this task, a paring knife can also be an excellent tool for zesting citrus fruits. Just like how you would use the peeler, simply slide the paring knife at the center of the zest and white pith to slice it into very thin pieces.
- Removing shrimp veins
De-veining shrimps is a challenging task. Thanks to the paring knife’s small structure, creating a shallow cut at the back of the shrimp becomes easy. After making the shallow cut, you can then use the knife’s edge to pull out the vein.
- Removing the cake from the baking pan
Ideally, the cake should flawlessly slide out of the pan. In certain circumstances that it won’t though, a paring knife can help get the job done. Gently insert the knife around the edge of the pan to help the cake slide out.
How to Use a Paring Knife for Different Purposes
A paring knife can be used for a wide variety of ways. After all, it is small enough that it is easy to use and handle. Moreover, it is also relatively inexpensive and is a perfect investment for any household.
Here are the ways on how to use a paring knife for different purposes:
- For slicing
The most common use of a paring knife is to slice a wide variety of fruits and vegetables ranging from apples to sweet potatoes.
To slice a round fruit or vegetable, place it with its ends horizontal to the cutting board. Cut both ends by sliding the paring knife’s blade across the flesh. Then, put the fruit on one of its cut ends to make it stand.
Lastly, place the paring knife on top of the fruit or vegetable and slide it downward to cut it into slices as thin and as many as desired.
- For peeling
A paring knife is also perfect for peeling back skins of certain fruits like apples and potatoes. How can you do this? Simply use the sharp end of the knife to create quick and clean cuts than regular peelers.
Let your dominant hand hold the knife with your index finger pushing against the dull end of the knife. Place the knife on top of the fruit under your index finger. Then, push the blade slightly into the skin of the fruit. Peel the skin down your thumb until the skin is completely removed.
- For peeling citrus fruits
Unlike apples and other similar fruits, citrus fruits have thick skins. To peel it, hold the fruit with your non-dominant hand and the knife with the dominant one. Hold the knife’s hand with your four fingers and the side of its blade pressed against your thumb.
Next, create a small cut into the interior of the skin between its pith. Finally, peel it away by rotating the citrus fruit and pushing the knife horizontally.
- Other Uses
The tip of the knife has its uses too. It can hull the top of certain fruits like tomatoes and strawberries, devein shrimps, and remove the seeds of jalapeno and other similar produce.
How to Choose a Good Paring Knife
To maximize the use of a paring knife, it must be of good quality that it won’t easily break or get dull. Despite its small size, there are bigger factors to take into consideration when buying a good one. Additionally, it comes with own set of rules that must be followed.
- The Blade
The blade of the paring knife should be sturdy and equipped with a strong tip. Stainless steel is the common material of the blade, but high-carbon steel makes a sturdier blade. It should have enough thickness so it won’t easily break and resist the pressure exerted when slicing or cutting.
Also, consider the tip of the blade. It should also be strong and sharp to cut fruits and vegetables, remove the cores, or carve them easily.
The blade and its tip are the most important factor to consider. After all, you don’t want it to break into two, or have the tip break off while you cut or slice. Aside from the inconvenience, it is extremely dangerous.
- Full-tang Construction
When choosing a paring knife, consider buying a full-tang. This also applies to other kinds of knives. A full-tang paring knife means that the blade extends all the way through the handle.
A typical knife can break separately at the part when the blade meets the handle. A full-tang paring knife is better than regular ones because it is more secure.
- The Handle
Another important factor to consider when buying a paring knife is its handle. It should be easy to grip and give you control over the knife. A thick handle is easier to hold than a thin one. It won’t slip or flip easily and allow you to hold the knife more firmly.
So, what is a paring knife used for? A lot of things, apparently! From cutting, slicing, peeling, and removing unwanted parts from fresh produce to removing the veins off of certain seafood, a paring knife has got it all covered. This is why having it in your kitchen is a smart investment.
A paring knife is easy to use too. It must have just the right size for easy control, and it must be sturdy enough to prevent breakage or slippage while you use it. The blade should be strong and won’t break easily or get detached from the handle.