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These knives are incredible for the price. For the price of a supermarket brand chopper, you can have blades that will "revolutionize" your cooking. It's such a shame that so many people aren't aware that you can have a product of this quality at this price, and will end up buying the aforementioned tat.
They arrive sharp enough for the best of amateur chefs, and don't really deteriorate at all. If they do, due to cutting on extremely hard surfaces, or burning the knife, they are extremely easy to restore using a traditional steel sharpener.
My advice would be, take care using this knife or any professional quality blade, and keep it away from children, It maintains a vicious edge.
Additionally, as with any wooden cookware, or cooking knife, I wouldn't advise leaving it in water as this will damage the blade over time (although to be honest, these ones are quite durable), and if you wash mid-cook be cautious, these blade handles can be slightly slippy when wet. A quick wipe down will restore the good level of grip that this knife allows when dry.
********************** Introduction **********************
For anyone who wants to take their cooking seriously a good sharp kitchen knife is a must have. A sharp knife is an indispensible weapon in your culinary arsenal, without one you're sentencing yourself to a frustrating, difficult and ultimately unsatisfying gastronomic experience. With only a sharp ten inch chef's knife you can chop and dice any array of vegetables, butterfly meats, finely chop herbs, skin a fish and even carve a turkey. Buying a good knife and learning to use it is probably the most important time you'll ever spend during your culinary career. Buy a strong knife, keep it sharp and you'll open up new avenues in your cooking that you never knew existed. As an aside, it's an excuse to buy a shiny kitchen appliance, an opportunity that shouldn't be sniffed at.
********************** Background **********************
Primarily known for their production of "Swiss Army Knives", Victorinox also produce a brand of kitchen knives under their in-house brand; Forschner. Originally founded in 1884 in Ibach, Switzerland by Karl Elsener, Victorinox has been delivering knives to the Swiss army for over 100 years. The company's iconic name is an amalgamation of Victoria, the mother of founder Karl Elsener, and -inox, an abbreviation of the French term "acier inoxydable"; meaning stainless steel. The flagship model of the Victorinox Corporation is of course, the multi-purpose Swiss army knife which has become an icon of 20th Century design.
********************** Costing **********************
In addition to being the sole supplier of knives to the Swiss Armed Services, Victorinox have made a name for themselves as producers of low price high quality kitchen-ware. Using a separate brand name, Forschner, Victorinox have gone for the entry level culinary market, aiming for those who wish to upgrade their basic knives but aren't willing to purchase a Global or a Wusthof. Victorinox knives retail for around £17 pounds compared with £70+ for Global and the insane £100+ charged by Wusthof. So as you can see, they are a bargain in the realm of quality kitchenware. Some people will say that "you get what you pay for" when it comes to your culinary equipment but this is one instance where that is simply not true. As you'll see, the quality of Victorinox blades is as close to the premium brands as you'll ever need in the home kitchen.
********************** Edging towards geometry **********************
The secret of a sharp blade is of course its edge. With a badly machined edge it won't matter how much you paid for your knife, it will only serve to frustrate and endanger you in the kitchen. Victorinox knives are made using a stamping process, meaning that a larger sheet of steel is placed under a high pressure pressing machine and the rough shape of the blade is simply "stamped" out. Knife purists will argue that this is an inferior method when compared with the high temperature forging employed by higher cost brands. Their argument is that you can't form a solid edge on a piece of steel that has been cut by machine. I'm not a blacksmith but from my research into the area it seems that the overwhelming response from kitchens around the globe is that you can. While they may employ cheaper gross manufacturing practices, Victorinox don't skimp on the sharpening stage and their knives perform only slightly below those at the top level.
A cutting edge on a knife is formed when two edges intersect at a point of supposed infinite thinness, essentially the point of a triangle. The angle at which these edges intersect is what determines both how well the knife cuts and how durable the blade is. Blades can be roughly categorised into either German or Japanese types. This categorisation doesn't actually imply the country of origin but rather the method used to sharpen the blade. Your typical kitchen knife weighs in somewhere between 25 to 30 degrees, meaning up to 60 degrees between the two sides. This may not sound like much but have a look at a protractor and you'll see that it's a pretty wide edge, explaining why that bargain knife isn't cutting as well as you want it to. The reason for this wide angle is twofold, it's easy to perform in the factory and it is very durable in the kitchen. You'll find with basic knives that they aren't very sharp but neither do they get any worse with age. High quality Japanese style knives, such as Global, on the other hand can be sharpened down to around 10-15 degrees on each side, leaving you with a 20 degree cutting edge. If you haven't used one of these knives before you're in for a treat when you do. Knives such as these make cutting an enjoyable experience as they scream through even the toughest of ingredients. With great power comes great responsibility however, as these edges are notoriously delicate and require near constant care to avoid becoming blunt. Somewhere in the middle of this lies German knives like Victorinox, which have a cutting edge somewhere around 40 degrees. These edges are still ridiculously sharp and will cut pretty much anything you put in their way. Widening the cutting angle adds a great deal of stability to these knives, meaning that they can stay keen for much longer without having to be re-sharpened, sometimes up to two years of casual use. For the average home user the reduced sharpness won't be noticeable, and the knife should remain sharper for longer.
********************** Cutting ingredients and not yourself - Usage **********************
With a knife this sharp you will find that chopping up a bowl full of carrots becomes a simple task, dicing a packet of chicken takes seconds and you can suddenly slice lemon slices thinner than a five pence piece. You will also find that you are now at risk of a severe cut if you mishandle the blade. While not as sharp as a surgeons scalpel, the Victorinox Chef's knife is more than capable of making a very deep cut into your fingers or arms. With that in mind it pays to research some knife handling skills if you are considering purchasing a high quality knife such as this.
The safest grip with a Chefs Knife is probably the pincer grip, where you pinch the top side of the blade between your index finger and thumb, allowing much finer control over the blade. The downside to this grip is that the edge of the knife can press into your finger, making long term use painful. Victorinox knives have a moulded plastic handle with a finely textured surface, allowing for quite a secure grip. The top side of the blade, known as the spine, on these knives isn't unduly sharp and I've used a pincer grip for around an hour at a time with my knife and haven't had much of an issue with pain. Compare this with one of my Global knives and you'll find me calling it a day after about twenty minutes.
Where Victorinox fall slightly is the appearance of their knives, like the Swiss themselves they are strictly functional. There is a polished blade and a textured handle, and that is it. They cut like nobodies business but they look like they belong in a commercial kitchen, not a stylish home. This part doesn't really bother me to any huge extent as I'm more concerned with the performance of the blade than the look of it. That being said, if I had £150 to spare I would definitely purchase one of the Wusthof Ikon range instead, they have both a screamingly sharp edge as well as looking very attractive hanging on your wall.
********************** Keeping them sharp, keeping them safe **********************
For the love of God don't put one of these in the dishwasher. I've read some knife reviews where people have complained about their knives breaking after months of use, reporting that they came out of the dishwasher in several pieces. These are not Tesco's Finest Kitchen Knives; these are high performance tools which require your care and attention. Each knife should be rinsed under hot water and scrubbed with a plastic brush with some anti-bacterial soap. If you clean them straight after use, or even an hour later they'll be just as clean as the dishwasher and will have the added benefit of staying in one piece. It can be hard to move from the traditional mindset of "throw them all in the dishwasher" but in the long run your knives and your wallet will thank you. On a similar note, don't put them in a drawer either, not only will you slice the tips of your fingers as you blindly reach in and grab it, but you will also take the edge off as they bang around with other metal objects. Simply use a wooden knife block or, like me, use a magnetic wall block. These blocks are great as they keep them out of reach of kids, cost only a few pounds in IKEA and let you show them off when people come over!
********************** Conclusion **********************
I realise this review has turned more into a "How to" guide for knives but it's only because of my passion for the product. Victorinox knives are a godsend to those looking to drastically improve both their cooking and their enjoyment of cooking. If you haven't tried a good knife then these are a perfect entry point into the world of cookery. As well as my own hearty endorsement Victorinox have won several awards for this series of knives, most notably from the worldwide magazine "Cook's Illustrated".
"This is exactly what a knife is supposed to be."
"While it's easy to blow your budget on a fancy chef's knife, the inexpensive, lightweight Victorinox Fibrox remains the test kitchen favourite."
Countless reviews online will attest to the quality of these knives and how you'd be a fool not to purchase them. If you are in anyway interested in cooking and want to improve the level of your cooking then look no further than Victorinox, you and whoever you end up cooking for will not be disappointed.
Without a seconds thought, five stars.
The Victorinox knives that were bought for my household were a welcome change from the blunt, melted ones that had plagued my kitchen for years before. The handles on the models that I own are easy to grip but not rubbery (and thus prone to quickly wearing away or getting battered). They are ergonomically curved letting my hand snugly grip it, preventing any hazardous and dangerous slips. The blades themselves are perfectly sharp, allowing you to cup through a variety of fruits, vegetables and meats with ease. This provides need for caution as if the blade meets your skin with any pressure, it will cut you so be careful! Unlike on many cheaper kitchen knives, the blade it rigid and not prone to bending horizontally meaning that all your cuts will be straight and clean.
While these knives are more expensive than most brands, a good knife set is a rewarding and worthwhile investment. For years you'll be chopping with ease rather than despairing at the uneven size of your diced onion.
I am currently doing a 4-week cooking course at the Tante Marie School and included in my fees was a set of Victorinox knives. I've never had a decent set of sharp knives before, but I've used other people's and I know how much of a difference using a sharp knife can make to the pleasure of cooking.
Before I started my course I enquired what knives we would be getting and when I was told they would be Victorinox I was pleased as I associate the brand with good quality. They are well known for making the original swiss army knives, but Victorinox are commonly used throughout professional kitchens due to their sharpness. They are created using high carbon stainless steel and they are hand finished in Switzerland using a special tempering process.
In my set I got a 20cm Cook's Knife, a smaller Paring Knife, a serrated Fruit/Tomato Knife and a Palette Knife. These are kept safe in a canvas storage wrap, along with a great peeler made by Oxo.
All of the cutting knives are razor sharp and are an absolute joy to use. Chopping though vegetables is a breeze and even carrots can be cut into a uniform size, which I couldn't achieve with my old knives. The non-slip Fibrox handles are very comfortable to hold and allow you to have a good grip on the knife.
I prefer to use a large Cook's Knife for most jobs, but the smaller Paring Knife has been extremely useful too. For example, we had to cut up a whole rack of lamb into individual cutlets and the paring knife made removing the chine bone very easy. We also had to French Trim them, which meant scraping all the meat off the rib bones, which is quite a time consuming job and it's something I would never do at home, mainly because it wastes so much of the meat! But it was a great skill to learn and it was made easy by the sharp and easy to handle Paring Knife.
We also had to skin plaice fillets and this was much easier to do than I thought it would be. We didn't have Fish Filleting Knives, so we used our Cook's Knife for this and because they are quite flexible it made removing the skin incredibly easy. The blade isn't too thick, unlike my old Santoku knife, so I find it a lot more versatile. I think this knife has a good weight to it, not too heavy and not too light, so it suits me down to a T. There is a nice curve to the blade, so finely chopping things like herbs is very easy to do as you can hold the point of the knife on the board and get a nice rocking motion going.
The serrated Fruit/Tomato Knife makes cutting through soft fruits very easy without crushing them and its small size means I have total control.
I have found the Palette Knife to be an incredibly useful knife, not only for spreading icing over cakes, but also for cleaning my board when making pastry or bread dough. It is also handy for mixing dough ingredients together in the bowl before you get your hands stuck in.
Because my course fees were so expensive, I expected the cost of the knives to be quite high. But when I looked them up on online, I was surprised that they are so reasonably priced for the quality that you get and I must admit to being a little disappointed that my school hadn't spent some of the £2,600 course fees on the more expensive forged knives!
However, it just goes to show that you don't need to spend a fortune to get a decent set of knives. My Dad owns a set of Henckels knives, which cost around £250, but you can build yourself a good set of Victorinox knives for around £50. I would highly recommend Victorinox knives, as they are superb quality and are excellent value for money.
All I need now is to invest in a sharpening steel to maintain the razor blade sharpness!
My husband and I were in TK Maxx a few months back looking for a nice new knife block, when we saw the Victorinox knife block. 'Oooh oooh oooh - can we have this one' said husband 'It's made by the Swiss Army Knife people!' 'Alright then' said I. And off we went with our shiny new knives.
Victorinox is a Swiss company which was set up in 1884 by Karl Elsener. He first supplied knives to the Swiss Army in 1891 and the rest, as they say, is history.
The knife block we have is made of beech wood and contains five knives - a big chefs knife, a carving knife, a vegetable knife, a bread knife and a paring knife - and a sharpeneing steel.
Victorinox also make a range of other knives for domestic as well as professional use and make other kitchen gadgets such as peelers and graters too.
The knives have polypropylene handles, which are nice and heavy and don't feel flimsy. They are ergonomically designed so that they will feel comfortable in your hands. The blades themselves are made of steel and feel nice and heavy. They are engraved with the Victorinox logo.
We have had these knives for a few months now and have not needed to sharpen them yet, despite them getting quite a bit of wear. Apparently, Victorinox knives are laser sharpened which may explain it.
The knives come with a 25 year guarantee and are dishwasher safe, although they can get blunted by other cutlery in the dishwasher. The knife block we have usually retails for £65, but TK Maxx gave it to us for a very reasonable £25!
I would definitely recommend these knives to anyone - they're nice and sharp as well as feeling sturdy so I'm hoping they will last for years to come!
As featured in Delia Smiths 'How to Cook' series. Professional knives from Victorinox (makers of the swiss army knife)