Knives for Hard Vegetables

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Joined Oct 9, 2008
@doraima3875 wrote:
"What would be the right type of knife cutting very hard vegetables like acorn, delicata or any hard vegetables?
Does the type of steel, carbon fiber or ceramic really matter? How the size and shape of the blade? Any other factors to consider when a cook has petite hands?
Or should I consider steaming hard vegetables first, then break it down with a chef's knife to cut into smaller pieces?"

Japanese knife makers are quite insistent about exactly this issue. The popular kabocha squash is extremely hard, dense, and dry. If you try to section it using an usuba (which is very thin-bladed), you are bound to crack the edge.

For kabocha, you usually begin with a relatively tough gyuto (chef's knife), and cut it into chunks. The chunks can be peeled, trimmed, and beveled with the usuba. It's arguably more traditional to divide the squash with a deba, but its thick blade will usually crack the flesh, leaving more waste, so a heavy gyuto is now usual.

In general, I would avoid using a "laser" type gyuto for applications like this. I think any professional kitchen (especially) ought to have a massive chef-de-chef around for this kind of brutality work (also splitting lobsters, etc.), precisely so that the delicate edges of your principal knives don't get damaged.

(Note: this thread continues one in the Professional Chefs forum.)
 
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ironically, i actually like really thin (laser-like) gyutos for hard things like this... they move through with less resistance, but cutting technique is more important. You need to be careful to not twist, rotate, or otherwise move the blade in such a way that exerts lateral force across the edge.
 
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What Jon said, thin tall gyuto, minimum 10", 12-14" area much better. I have a 10" Vic Rosewood I thinned [quite a bit] and it's fine for big swede and the like, but that 270 Itonomon carbon I missed on sale for $130 a few years ago would have been real sweet.

The big CCK Chinese chefs could do a number I would think, especially with a thinned edge. I think a big one from Jon's stainless line would be an excellent inexpensive alternative, I'd just thin it a bit.
 
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Joined May 29, 2013
I would agree with chrislehrer, that a heavy and long blade, such as a 270mm or longer western deba or a lobster splitter, would be my preferred blade. I do think that the edge needs to be at a higher primary bevel angle than with normal blades (I seem to recall BDL suggested 20 degrees on each side with a 25 degree microbevel on each side for a chef de chef).

One possible candidate is a 300mm K Sabatier carbon steel chefs knife. I bought one earlier this year, and I will personally attest that it's massive, with a very thick spine. BDL noted that he used one of the 12 inch K-Sabs's as his chef-de-chef until it got lost in some move.

GS
 
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I use a nameless old thing I found in my mother's knife drawer. She hadn't used it in a long time and thought it might have been in the house when they moved (before I was born!) I put a rather coarse (800JIS) edge on it, somewhere around 20-25 degrees, and it does just fine for the once in a blue moon that I use it.
 
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I like using a good ole' $14.99 GE Electric Knife. I got one some 30 years ago for a wedding present. It's actually good for a lot of things.
 
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I like using a good ole' $14.99 GE Electric Knife. I got one some 30 years ago for a wedding present. It's actually good for a lot of things.

Surosly Iceman?

I have the one my father bought 55 years ago, I think the blades were actually made of 440C surgical stainless back then, and the wood box it came with would alone probably sell for more than $14.99 nowadays. Still, even given it's quality build, I'd think it tedious at best trying to tackle carrots, let alone a big squash. Even carving a turkey it was very slow compared to a good slicer in competent hands.

But as ChefLane once pointed out an electric is irreplaceable for sectioning delicate pastries. This obviously because the blades push and pull at the same time so that nothing gets push/pulled out of place.
 
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OK ... This one is close to mine. It's a Black&Decker on sale rite now $14. Mine goes through acorn squash or big hard melons like NO big deal.
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I use it for pineapples and watermelons too.
 
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