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I got two knives as gifts...and I have questions

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(Note: I'm moving this from the "Not About Food" board)

A friend of mine went to Japan brought back a Kyocera ceramic knife. Since the package is almost entirely in Japanese (a language I don't happen to speak), I can't read the directions. From the pictures,I can see I shouldn't use it for hard items such as squash, but that it works for small fruit (apples and oranges) and slicing bread. What other things does it work well for? How should it be stored? What about sharpening it?

A relative of mine gave me an Alaskan ulu knife. It's shaped in an arc, like a mezzalune. I haven't yet taken it out of the package. Is it even worth trying? Can it out-perform, say, a good chef's knife for certain tasks? It looks a bit primitive and unwieldy.

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    JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

    The ceramic knife should be stored separately so it doesn't get knocked around by anything else- it is ceramic, after all. It needs no sharpening.

    Link: http://thecosmicjester.blogspot.com

    1. The ceramic knife does need sharpening about every 2 years or so. However, it is done by the manufacture. Usually, you have to send the knife to the manufacture for them to sharpen it for you. I believe there's one in San Diego.

      The knife is very sharp and great for chopping and slicing.

      1. If you go to a high-end kitchen supply store they should be able to tell you all about the Kyocera or even let you test out their knives before you play with yours.

        I've heard the ceramic knives will shatter if you drop them or knock them against something by accident, so do be careful. Or inform me that I've been misinformed. It sounds right, since it's ceramic.

        1. First about your ceramic knives. I have two and have had them for a long time. They will go dull so if you cut with them use them on things like ripe soft fruits like tomatoes. Do not cut hard things like lemons. It is all logic's so use your imagination on what you think is soft enough. For example, if you wanted to do tuna carpaccio, this is going to be your knife unless you have a sushi knife. Do not add to much pressure on the knife so that it does not score your cutting board. It dulls the knife!. Use a wood cutting board because plastic is to hard. And last, avoid cutting things like cardboard with it because it ruins the knife instantly.
          You will find that at one point it goes dull anyway. Google for sharpening info. I use the very fine stone that I bought for sharpening my Japanese knifes and it works fine for me but you to have to know what you are doing. For your other knife...find a nice spot in the kitchen and hang it on the wall.

          1. The Ulu is a tourist toy... hang on the wall, like fb said. If you want a serious rounded knife that is limited to chopping, get a high-quality Mezzaluna and make sure you get the rounded board that goes with it. I can chop with a flat board and my chef's knife just as fast. Why have a specialized set (knife and board) that is only good for chopping?

            I also received a Kyocera ceramic as a gift. I used it for a month, and its sat in one of my slots in the block ever since. The question is, why bother? It was never as sharp as I get and keep my Japanese blades. Of course, this takes constant effort on the steel and stones - but since I can't work on the Ceramic, why would I bother having something I have to send back to the factory?

            I know Ming uses ceramics. From a commercial kitchen perspective, where you're constantly using a service to send out all your knives anyway, I guess it's ok. But once again, given the limitations where you can't use it on hard items or even to chop, why bother? You end up keeping 2 sets... why?

            There are good reasons to have specialized knives - sashimi being a real good one. But in general, I don't see the benefit. If you get real good with, and buy the best driver (8-10" chef's) and putter (paring) - maybe a 5-iron (6-8" slicing)... everything else is just extra weight to carry around - they won't lower your score, and they won't make your food taste any better or make it much quicker.

            2 Replies
            1. re: applehome

              Completely agree with you. I have a couple of global knives including the large sashimi and the 10" chef's and I am extremely happy with just that. I can sharpen my ceramics quite good but I do not use them that much so they are sitting pretty much like yours....in the block!. Happy chopping.

              1. re: applehome

                I just had to say that I love the golf analogy...

              2. The ulu is meant for whale blubber... so unless you are planning on serving up some blubber à la Hollandaise, it's best used as a decorative item in your kitchen.

                I have to say, as an aside, that I was amazed to read the title of your original post. No one in my family would give a knife as a gift (the old superstition that it "cuts" the bonds of friendship). When my mother wanted to give us a gift one year, she gave me a decorative envelope with $20 in it.

                I said, "Ma! You got us a set of knives?!"

                My wife stared at me as though I'd just started speaking Swahili. I gave my mother the $20, and then she gave me the knives, unwrapped of course. She conveniently "forgot" to take the $20 with her, too.

                I guess Swedish people (my wife is of Swedish descent) don't hold with that tradition.