Technical Guide

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COMMITMENT TO QUALITY

Just as you take the time and care to select the highest-quality ingredients for your recipes, you should expect nothing less from the manufacturers of the products you use to prepare them. Sabatier is committed to producing high-end, quality cutlery and kitchen tools and to prove it we’re sharing some of our methods for selecting and producing our fine cutlery.

CHOOSING HIGH QUALITY STEEL

Steel is made up of different components which contribute to its quality, depending on how much of each element is used.

There are primarily two different types of steel: Carbon Steel contains mainly iron and carbon (0.6% to 1%). Stainless Steel are alloyed in varying quantities depending on the desired quality: carbon (0.2% to 0.5%); chromium (12% to 15 %) ; molybdenum (0% to 0.8%) ; vanadium (0% to 0.2%).

The quality of stainless steel is dependent on the ratios of above elements. Each element has specific properties that guarantee the desired quality. Carbon provides hardness, chromium does not rust, and molybdenum and vanadium are anticorrosive. These are not all necessarily present, but quality assurance resides in the alloy made up of all these agents, using the highest possible content. The fewer components, the lower the quality.

These components are cast in ingots and then formed into different shapes depending on the function of the knife.

HEAT TREATMENT AND TEMPERING

The blades are heated up to a temperature of 1040°C/1050°C degrees. This operation takes place in a controlled atmosphere with the introduction of a specific gas in the furnace in order to avoid calamine deposits. The blades are then cooled down very quickly. In order to temper the blades, they are re-heated to 240°C in order to ensure that the metal is tough, yet resilient to breakage. Tempering is a delicate process that requires rigorous analysis of the metal’s components, as heating and cooling time vary depending the chemical make-up of the blade being tempered.

GRINDING

Grinding the cutting edge of the blade ensures that it is resistant, easy and ready to go onto the sharpening stage. Although there are many ways to grind a blade, all of our professional Sabatier blades undergo the same treatment, manually grinding the cutting edge along a wheel. Although this is the most intricate of processes, this method achieves a perfect result and a longer-lasting edge.

A KNIFE’S ANATOMY

A knife is usually composed of 2 parts – the blade and the handle. The blade refers to the part of the knife that comes into contact with food and contains the sharp edge, while the handle refers to the part of the knife that remains in the palm of your hand. The blade usually stems up from the handle and tapers toward the tip.

COMPONENTS OF THE BLADE

  1. The cutting edge refers to the sharp edge of the knife, used for cutting and slicing.
  2. The spine (the non-cutting edge) refers to the edge of the knife opposite from the cutting edge.
  3. The tip of the blade refers to the top portion of knife and is used when precision is important. The tip also serves as an anchor point when slicing, julienning and mincing.
  4. The heel of the blade refers to the widest portion of the blade closest to the handle. This part of the blade is best used when cutting into hard or large foods that require more force and weight (such as cutting through potatoes or nuts).
  5. The knife point is the part of the blade where the spine and cutting come together. The point is generally used to pierce.

COMPONENTS OF THE HANDLE

  1. The bolster is the raised area between the handle and the blade. The bolster’s purpose is to provide extra weight and balance to the knife. The bolster also provides protection for fingers from getting too close the cutting edge (this part of the bolster is sometimes referred to as the finger guard).
  2. The butt refers to the very end of the handle (the furthest away from the point). The butt helps direct correct hand placement.
  3. The tang is the tail of the blade that extends into the handle, which allows the handle to attach securely to the blade. Full tang refers to the fact that the blade extends all the way through the handle through to the butt of the knife and generally signifies a higher quality construction that provides added strength, stability and balance.
  4. The scale refer to the material that is secured to the tang to create the handle. Typically two scales are attached – one to each side of the tang.
  5. The rivets are the pins used to secure the scales to the tang.

BLADE TYPES

FORGED BLADES

Forged blades are made by heating steel to an extremely high temperature and then setting the steel into a mold, and hammering it to form the blade. The set blade is then finished tempered, sharpened, polished and finished in a process that is traditionally quite intricate and done by hand.

STAMPED BLADES

Stamped blades feature a more modern and industrial form of blade-making through a process which includes punching out the blade from a sheet of steel. The stamped blade is typically machine-tempered and finished.

EUROPEAN BLADE MODELS

Blade designs originating in Europe (and commonly Germany) accommodate a more Western approach to cooking, which include rocking and anchoring the knife to its cutting surface. As a result, these blades tend to feature a greater curve on the cutting edge to facilitate these techniques.

ASIAN BLADE MODELS

Blades based on Asian designs feature flatter cutting edges and a much smaller bolster (if any). The shape of Asian-influenced blades support Asian cutting practices which include lifting the knife up entirely from the surface in a straight up-and-down motion.

KNIFE FUNCTIONS

The design of a knife goes far beyond aesthetics and is heavily influenced by the function it is intended to serve. The length of the blade, as well as its width and shape are all important factors that can facilitate your food prep in the kitchen. Below is a quick guide to help you differentiate one knife from the other (and once you’ve mastered the function of each knife, brush up on your technique, whether you’re looking to slice, dice, mince or julienne!)

Chef’s Knife

This is one of the most versatile knives and can handle 90 percent of all kitchen cutting work, including chopping, dicing, slicing and mincing. The side of the blade is wide enough so that is can be used to crush garlic cloves and peppercorns. The chef’s knife features a long, gently sloping curve to enable it to perform the rocking motion needed for mincing and chopping. Although chef’s knives are available in a variety of lengths ranging from 6 inches to 12 inches, the 8 inch is the most popular.

Bread Knife

The blade of a bread knife should be about 50 percent longer than the bread you are cutting so that you have plenty of room to saw back and forth, rather than press down on the bread. The blade can be fluted, serrated or scalloped. Bread knives come in a variety of blade designs and handle shapes but the most important features are the edge of the blade and its length.

Slicing Knife

The blade of a slicing knife can extend up to 18 inches. The length is what enables them to cleanly slice in one neat stroke.

Santoku Knife

A Santoku knife combines the features of a chef’s knife and a cleaver. It has a wider blade than a chef’s knife and is thinner and shorter. The curve of the blade is also less pronounced, providing a straighter cutting edge. The scalloped Granton edge pattern on the blade allows the knife to release thin slices and sticky foods after slicing. Its wide blade also doubles as a spatula.

Fine Edge Utility Knife

This can be considered a cross between a chef’s knife and a paring knife. It is an all-purpose tool and can be used for many cutting and chopping tasks – from julienning vegetables to slicing meat.

Serrated Utility Knife

This scalloped blade, ranging anywhere from 5” to 9”, bites the outside crust of bread and avoids squishing and tearing the soft insides of loaves and cakes. This knife is also good for those hard-to-cut tomatoes. A smaller length blade is intended to slice fruits and vegetables. Because it is a specialty knife and used for custom tasks, this knife should maintain its sharp edge for many years.

Paring Knife

This knife is essential for tasks that require more dexterity and precision than a chef’s knife can provide, such as peeling and coring apples, deveining shrimp, cutting citrus segments etc. The blade of a paring knife should be somewhat flexible for easy maneuvering into tight spots and for handling curves when peeling and paring.

Boning Knife

The 4 to 5 inch blade on this knife is thin and pointed with a very sharp tip. The blade can be either very stiff or flexible. Some have a straight blade while others angle upward. These knives are used to separate poultry from its carcass by slicing strokes as legs are separated from the body or breasts are removed from the skeleton. It cuts meat off bones with precision.

Cleaver

This 6 inch blade is thick and heavy with the edge set as a broad angle. Use this heavyweight knife to cut through meat and poultry bones with one downward stroke or slice through vegetables with ease.

Sharpening Steel

This tool is used to hone knife blades and keep their edge straight between sharpenings. It can be made of steel, glass, ceramic or diamond impregnated metal. The surface of the steel may have a fine pattern of thin grooves which can remove small amount of metal from the knife blade. Better quality steels have very fine or almost none of these grooves. A steel should not be too short or have coarse, obvious patterns. Diamond coated steels are light and strong and will not corrode. Ceramic steels will not corrode but will shatter if dropped.