The development of European kitchen knives

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photo credit by GÜDE Solingen

Kitchen knives from Europe and Asia how do they differ?

We have listed over three hundred and fifty knives in our knife shop at TYPEMYKNIFE®. All knives are made by European knife manufacturers.

Depending on purpose and preferences, there are many different types and shapes of knives. This ranges from the classic chef’s knife to special knives for filleting, carving, or tournaments.

What unites them all is that they have European design, European shapes that are ideal for our local cuisine and the preparation of their dishes.

But where does the historical origin of the knife lie, and what distinguishes for example European knives from Asian ones?

We want to pursue these questions in the next blog post and shed some light on the matter.

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The history of the knife, from the Stone Age to today’s professional knife.

Even our ancestors, primates who roamed the steppes, used tools. A stick, stone, or bone.

We don’t know exactly when the knife or its predecessors came about. But we can be sure that a painful experience was the trigger for a development that continued to this day.

As soon as Stone Age man cut himself on a sharp stone edge, the tool knife was added to the repertoire of human tools.

The decisive difference to tools such as branches or bones. The sharpness was deliberately created by breaking or hewing stones. A giant step in the evolution of mankind.

Glass-hard rocks such as flint resulted in sharper ones Breaking edges. The first people used them to create hand axes, scrapers or drills.

Homo erectus has already researched, developed and designed here.

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Complex all-purpose knives were made as early as the Neolithic Age

The combination of wood, pitch as an adhesive and the processing of flint made it possible to create cutting tools for various applications.

Long spring-shaped blades are known . Finely retouched, in a perfect symmetrical shape. This blade was glued into a wooden handle using pitch and stabilized with hemp cord wrapping.

A weapon and a real all-purpose knife. Using this technique, an ax became an everyday tool.

The shaped or polished stone was attached to the wooden handle or a branch fork with pitch and strong rope or sinew.

A saw had nothing but small pieces of flint glued in a row in a long shaft as teeth. The forerunner of the bread knife, but there’s still a long way to go.

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Metal enables knives with completely new properties

The first metals that man processed were those that were solid in metallic unoxidized form were also accessible.

Gold and silver nuggets found in rivers, or minerals in which native pure copper was trapped.

Smelting was difficult because it was not easy to reach such high temperatures in furnaces.

Copper was the first metal used to make tools.

Copper knives were no sharper than their stone counterparts. But they didn’t break off and they could be post-hardened by blacksmiths.

A great advantage when killing animals.

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Medieval kitchen knives, carbon steel and wood

People in the Middle Ages ate with their fingers or slurped their soup. If there was millet porridge, the hand-carved wooden spoon was used. If the head of the table died, it was the end of the story, in the truest sense of the word.

The nobility and the discerning bourgeois dined a little more finely. There was a lot of meat of all kinds on the table, swan, peacock, goat and much more.

Less vegetables, more bread and no sweets. Everything was in bite-sized portions, meat could be gnawed off the bone. Your own dagger pierced more than it cut. Table manners gradually became more refined.

In addition to the obligatory dagger, men wore a dinner knife on their belt, sometimes a spoon or Fork. Today’s word cutlery comes from “sticking it in”.

The fork had a hard time, as it was unpopular as the work of the devil and you could impale it with the very sharp steel knives.

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Magnificent knives of the nobility, simple chef’s knives in the kitchen

In the kitchen you work with large iron knives with simple riveted or pinned wooden handles.

Carbon steel had one major disadvantage. The iron taste had a negative impact on vegetables, fruit or egg dishes. The layer of scale on the iron discolored the interfaces.

The knives had to be cleaned and sharpened a lot. Our tradition of dividing potatoes not with a knife but with a silver fork has its roots in this.

What happened next? There is still a long way to go to the top product made of stainless steel and moisture-resistant handle.

With the French Revolution, the use of kitchen knives changed fundamentally. Good food is no longer reserved for the aristocratic upper class. Open restaurants and the kitchen and cooking becomes commoner.

More on this in our second  Blog post about the kitchen knife revolution.

You can find medieval daggers in our TYPEMYKNIFE® knife manufacture.