Ceramic Knives that Do the Job
Knives have been one of mankind's most vital tools since the dawn of time. While their uses and form have changed very little over the centuries, the materials used to make our cutlery have made great advances. The latest step forward is the creation of ceramic knives. Made from zirconium oxide, ceramic knives are very sharp and hold their edge much longer than steel. They do not rust, and neither acid nor base will leave marks on the blade. For those who may be a little scatterbrained like me, it is reassuring to know that forgetting to rinse the knife won't spell the end of your favorite kitchen tool.
(For more information on Shenzhen's selection of ceramic knives, visit their website at http://www.shenzhenknives.com/)
There are some limitations. The Shenzhen ceramic knives I tested came with a list of things not to do with them. The blade is very sharp, but not very strong. Ceramics cannot be used on frozen foods, bones, prying anything, or chopping. All of these run the risk of cracking or even shattering the blade. Likewise, great care must be taken not to drop the knife, since a fall to a hard floor could potentially destroy the blade.
I should note that while the warnings are there for a reason, an accidental fall from shoulder height to my linoleum floor only did damage to the floor. These risks and limitations made me very uncomfortable since I am not accustomed to using a knife that might break on me while using it. That, however, is an issue with all ceramic knives, and not particularly with Shenzhen's products. After a few weeks of use, here are my thoughts on the Shenzhen ceramic knives:
- Ease of use. These knives cut wonderfully. The ceramic blades are very thin, allowing for great control and very thin slices. Fruits, vegetables, and tubers are much easier and quicker to process with a ceramic knife than with a steel knife. The knives are light as well, which makes slicing up large quantities of food less tiresome. Potatoes and such are a little tricky at first, since chopping is not recommended. For the same reason, if you need to dice or mince something using a ceramic knife it can take a long time. The handles are very comfortable to the hand, with an ergonomic rubber design that makes them easy to hold while keeping a fairly traditional look, which helps with marathon kitchen sessions.
- Maintenance. Shenzhen knives are easy to clean, but only within certain limitations. Like many other high-end knives, they are not at all dishwasher safe. Rattling around or banging against something in the dishwasher could break them. Hand washing them is easy since the food comes right off with little effort. If you are used to hand washing knives, cleaning is not difficult. As I mentioned earlier, the blades will not rust or tarnish, so there's no need to worry if you cannot wash up immediately. One of the big selling points of ceramic knives is that they stay sharp for a very long time, much longer than steel. However, once they do become dull sharpening them can be a challenge. Because the ceramic is so hard, the only tool that will work to sharpen them is a diamond grinder. While finding a knife shop with the right tool might be a little difficult, these knives have an estimated ten years before they need to be sharpened.
- Pros. The biggest advantages of the Shenzen ceramic knives are their sharpness and the durability of their edge. They are great for cutting soft foods, especially in large quantities because of their light weight and comfortable grip. The light weight also makes them easy to control, for those who do fancy decorative cutting or the like. They are easy to clean by hand, and are non-reactive. For what they do, they do it well.
- Cons. Safety is the biggest drawback, for me, with ceramic knives in general. The possibility of breaking my knife on routine tasks makes me very uncomfortable. Part of what bothers me is the lack of versatility that fragility causes. While the Shenzhen knives do many things well, I often felt the need to go get another knife in the middle of preparing something. In my hectic household, the inability to wash the knives in the dishwasher poses a problem as well; while the knives are easy to clean, that is time that I often do not have to spare. However, this is not the case for everyone. Lastly, the price may make these knives unaffordable for many cooks. When compared to high-quality knives they are not expensive, but for those on a tight budget they may be too pricey. (The set of three knives is selling for $69.98 at the time of this writing.)
- Overall Experience. Personally, I would not invest in these knives for myself, but that is an issue with ceramic knives in general (and my bug-a-boo about them) and not with Shenzhen's quality. They do many things well, and for those who spend a lot of time slicing things up, the sharp blade and light weight are great. However, the things they cannot do may be limiting for intermediate to advanced cooks. Ceramic knives are specialized tools; if they sound like they might fit your specific needs, then Shenzhen is a good way to go. They are well made, comfortable to use, and are not particularly expensive.