Paring knives may be the smallest of kitchen knives that isn’t to say that they don't have a world of uses. In this guide, we’ll be introducing you to this small but mighty blade and showing you exactly what it is capable of. Let’s get started!
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What Is a Paring Knife?
While it is small compared to some of the other knives in your kitchen, this compact design means that it is a lot easier to handle. This makes a sharp paring knife ideal for more intricate or delicate tasks where a more bulky or cumbersome blade may hinder your progress.
The blade of a paring knife can come in slightly different designs. There is the straight blade of the classic paring knife and the curved blade of the bird's beak paring knife.
Despite its small size, the paring knife is one of the most versatile blades in the kitchen and the thin blade and sharp tip can be used for so many different things.
What Can I Use My Paring Knife For?
Mincing and Slicing
One of the most common uses of the paring knife is peeling. This sharp knife is perfect for this as its small size gives you much greater control over fruits and vegetables. Imagine trying to use a santoku knife for peeling apples or a carrot! It would just be too difficult and potentially dangerous. That said, you’ll normally peel the food while holding it in your free hand so you may need to practice your technique. Unless you’re peeling fruits and veggies with thick skins, in which case, it can be easier to place them on a cutting board.
It’s important to make sure that your paring knife is nice and sharp for peeling as this will make it easier to remove all of the skin in one go. Another great reason to keep that paring blade sharp is that a dull blade may cut away portions of the flesh and that’s not what you want.
Trimming is one of those kitchen jobs that requires a little more attention to detail and that just cannot be achieved when using a much larger blade. So, it’s the paring knife to the rescue once again! Think about things like taking the ribs from peppers or hulling strawberries, your paring knife is just the right size.
These compact blades are also perfect when it comes to jobs like deveining prawns as you can get in there without causing much damage to the food itself. As with other jobs, you’ll need to make sure that you are using the correct technique but the good news is that for most trimming tasks, you’ll simply need to remove the top of the food (for example, a tomato or strawberry) and then use your knife to remove anything from the inside that you don’t want.
When you are cutting citrus fruits such as oranges, the pith doesn’t make for the best presentation. But that’s where your small paring knife comes in handy once again. You see, the pointed tip of these small blades are ideal for segmenting citrus fruits and removing both pith and peel. Once you have done this, you can then neatly remove the individual segments, improving the presentation of your meal.
There is something of a knack to this that requires you to remove the ends of the fruit so that they are completely flat. After this, you will need to make downward cuts which will allow you to remove the peel and pith. The tip of the blade then comes in handy to separate the segments; once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s really quite simple.
Many foods may need to be scored including meats, bread and pies. This involves making lots of slices onto the surface so it’s pretty delicate work. You’d score bread in order to make it rise more evenly and when working with pies, these thin lines will allow steam to escape. If you’re scoring meats, then this will ensure greater flavour but using a big knife can be difficult, not to mention dangerous.
But using the sharp blade of a classic paring knife makes this process much simpler. And since it can be used across all types of foods for scoring, you’ll only ever need one knife for the job!