Updated: March 31, 2021

What Is a Paring Knife Used for?†

In the kitchen, larger knives are extremely useful especially when you need to slice through root veggies, portion fish filets, and break down a chicken. It handles most of the hard labor in the kitchen easily. However, when you need to slice much smaller items, another type of knife is essential.

A paring knife is for more delicate items. They offer accuracy and are completely light to use. This type of knife has a few inches of a sharp blade and is used to complete tasks that require concentration in the kitchen. Some examples are peeling apples and oranges or hulling strawberries. It is a lot easier to maneuver when you need to handle food that doesnít require a cutting board.

What is a Paring Knife?

Paring knives are versatile kitchen tools that come in handy to professional chefs. They are small with sharp blades and this is why they are good for slicing and peeling food items.

People tend to confuse general knives with paring knives. Some refer to them as chef’s knives. But this article can clear all this up and help you learn what a paring knife is used for.

Paring knives get the name from the role it plays in the kitchen. Paring means cutting away an outer surface to remove the edges of the vegetable or fruit. It is commonly used to peel layers from veggies and fruits and can be used to trim before preparing them.

This type of knife is short with a blade of about 8 to 10 centimeters or 3 to 4 inches long. The compact size makes it ideal for regular tasks like trimming, cutting, and slicing. They are also known as peeling knives because chefs use them to cut or peel fruits into tiny pieces.

If you know how to use a paring knife, it will make your kitchen tasks easier.

What is A Paring Knife Used For?

There are so many things you can do with a paring knife. Some include:

Deveining Shrimp

Nobody enjoys deveining shrimp no matter how much they love cooking. However, using a paring knife makes it a manageable task. You first need to find the dark line that runs down the back of the shrimp. This is the intestine and should be removed.

Grab your paring knife, cut straight from the upper part of the shrimp to the back, and stop above the tail. From here, you can open the shrimp’s back to remove the vein or use water to rinse it out. When you are done, pinch the tail’s end and remove the shell in a single movement.

Coring Tomatoes

Paring knives can be used to core tomatoes. Simply insert the knife’s tip about one centimeter to the left side of the core. When you are there, dig down by one inch and saw around the core cleanly. It will pop out when you reach a full circle.

Peeling Ingredients

what is a paring knife used for

A paring knife can also serve as an alternative to traditional peelers. However, it may be more complicated to use when you try to use it for the first time. Grab the food firmly in your hand as you would if you were using a traditional peeler. Grip the handle of your knife and move the blade towards your body. Cut under the skin of the ingredient. Do this with minimal force so you don’t remove more than the peel.

Decasing Sausage

Sausage often comes encased in soft sheaths to keep the ingredients contained. However, this can be a problem when it is time to cook especially if you prefer it in smaller pieces. with a paring knife, you can draw a line lightly down the side of the sausage. Be careful not to slice deeply, just focus on breaking the skin. When you are done, peel off the skin and get rid of it.

Hulling Strawberries

For bakers, paring knives also come in handy. While baking with strawberries, you can get more fruit if you hull it. It follows the same process as coring a tomato. Simply insert the paring knife into the strawberry stern’s side and carve a circle. Pop the circle out and use the rest.

Scoring Meat

Sometimes, meat may have fatty pockets that you can leave in while cooking. When you roast meat, such fat pockets produce a delicious flavor that seeps into the meat as it roasts. If you want to remove these pockets of fat for other reasons, a paring knife is the best tool for it.

To do this, draw lines over the fatty sections with the paring knife and pull it out. However, the method varies depending on the kind of meat in question. For instance, pork chops may require two equal slices on the fatty edge.

paring knife

Types of Paring Knives

There are four kinds of paring knives. They include:

Spear Tip 

This paring knife is known as a classic knife because of its short, smooth, and outwardly curved blade. It allows the user to apply less pressure and still get the work done. Some have a serrated edge and they are best for slicing, peeling, and coring veggies and fruits. They work well for most of the uses but can be limited when it comes to slicing tasks.

Bird’s Beak 

This paring knife has a concave and sickle-shaped blade. The tip is also quite sharp and it is ideal for coring veggies and fruits as well as peeling them. This knife is also used to trim delicate decorative food work.

It has a rounded blade that can help reduce waste during a cut. However, it is not easy to sharpen with a knife sharpener.

Western-Style Japanese

It is shaped with the spear point knife but has a less-curved blade. This paring knife is made of tough steel and this makes the edge sharper than usual. It is best used for decorative garnishing and intricate carving and cutting.

This knife allows for greater control, but is razor-sharp and can make some simple tasks tough.

Sheep’s Foot 

This paring knife is flat, smooth, and straight with rounded tips. It is great for chopping veggies and fruits into thin, long strips and cutting hard and soft cheese. It is great because it stays sharp for a longer period. However, it is not as sharp as other knives because of the rounded tips.

Ways to Use a Paring Knife

Most large knives require a chopping board to slice food items. Is a chopping board necessary with a paring knife? Well, you can still use a chopping board with your paring knife. They usually have longer blades like miniature chef knives. Also, you can use paring knives in the air without a chopping board. Some types of paring knives are more ideal for this purpose. Bird’s beak is used in this manner especially if they are used to peel fruit.

Some paring knives come with plastic handles and stamped blades and this makes them a lot lighter and far easier to use without a chopping board. They are also quite affordable.

How to Hold a Paring Knife

You always need to have a good grip on the paring knife to have full control of the blade.

Many paring knives are built to fit the hand snugly. They also provide comfort and balance when held.

You should hold a paring knife with the handle in your fist to guide the blade. Your thumb can help guide the blade. Direct the blade with your wrist instead of the heel of your hand. A good paring knife comes with an ergonomically shaped handle so it has a good place to place your thumb to keep it comfortable and secure.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Paring Knife

The first thing to consider before buying a paring knife is the size. Search for one that is 3 to 3 ¬Ĺ inches long. It is ideal for several cutlery tasks. Also, agility is another factor to consider. An agile blade will fit into all corners and provide balance. Your paring knife¬ís blade should be flexible so it can be easy to maneuver into tight spots like tomato cores. It can also come in handy for curves while paring and peeling.

The handle is also important so look for a knife with a comfortable grip. The knife handle should make it easy for you to handle various tasks.

Final Thoughts

A paring knife is an essential utensil in every kitchen. It serves the purpose of cutting where larger knives fail. It also quickens the process whenever you choose to use it. There are four different types of paring knives. You can choose one that is comfortable for you and serves the purpose you need it for. However, it is important to note the shortcomings of each knife to make an informed decision.

Jeremy Dodd
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