A paring knife is a valuable kitchen tool, and can be very useful in the preparation of a variety of paleo foods and recipes. A chef’s knife is typically thought of as the most important knife in a cook’s arsenal, but a paring knife is equally as valuable, particularly for jobs that require more precision and attention to detail. In addition to specific and detailed kitchen jobs, a good paring knife can generally be used easily for nearly any kitchen utility job.
The blade of a paring knife typically ranges from 2.5 to 4 inches (6.4 cm. to 10.2 cm.), and looks similar to a smaller version of a chef’s knife. A good paring knife can be used for a variety of tasks, including peeling fruits and vegetables, slicing a clove of garlic or a shallot, hulling strawberries, deveining shrimp and coring a variety fruits and vegetables. Paring knives generally allow the person doing the cutting to have more control than would be allowed with a chef’s knife. Paring knives are also versatile, in that you’re not confined to cutting on a cutting board or solid surface. When using a paring knife, you can cut while holding it in the air.
Although the most common type of paring knife looks like a small chef’s knife, there are a few other varieties of paring knives.
The bird’s beak paring knife has a blade that is curved and looks similar to the beak of a bird. This type of paring knife is great for peeling round fruits and vegetables, or doing intricate carving.
The sheep’s foot paring knife has a completely straight blade, and is useful for peeling and paring (paring refers to remove the outer skin) food.
A paring knife with a wavy-edged blade is ideal for cutting the skin of foods with a soft inside or soft flesh, such as a tomato.
A clip point paring knife has a rounded tip and the rest of the blade is straight. This type of knife is generally used for removing olive pits or peeling fruits and vegetables.
A paring/boning knife is used for deboning meat.
When selecting a paring knife, one that is considered of chef’s quality will generally be made of high-carbon steel, and the metal of the blade will run from the tip of the knife, through the handle, to the opposite end, which is called a full tang. A paring knife with a high-carbon, stainless steel blade will help the knife maintain a sharp blade, and resist corrosion at the same time. A good paring knife should score at least a 55 on the Rockwell Scale, which is a measure of steel hardness and should be listed in the manufacturer’s description of the knife. The handle of a paring knife should be comfortable and secure, have a precise fit, with a weight that is heavy enough to balance the blade.