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Cutting Tomatoes

 
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SirSpice



Joined: 04 Dec 2006
Posts: 95

PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2006 4:03 am    Post subject: Cutting Tomatoes Reply with quote

I keep reading and hearing about people that use a serrated knife to cut their tomatoes. Supposedly so they won't tear or crush.

Why? Is it really that hard to cut tomatoes with a regular chefs knife. I can understand if someone with a cheap knife set has new no good knife, but I see tv chefs putting down their hundred dollar chef knife and reach for a serrated knife to cut a tomato.

Does anyone have another good reason to use a serrated knife on tomatoes?
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1622
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2006 9:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The skin on a tomato is sometimes very smooth and just tough enough that is a knife doesn't "bite" into it, then the knife my slip instead of cutting in. I suppose this is a bit of a safety issue, if you're not paying attention. When using a sharp chef's knife, I don't have a problem cutting tomatoes thinly without crushing or tearing, but while I drag the knife over the surface, I make sure I feel the knife edge diggin into the tomato. If you try to press your knife down through the tomato, it's almost guaranteed to slip a little before it bites - using a serrated knife guarantees that it puntures the skin immediately and no one uses a pressing/chopping motion when using a serrated knife.

Alton Brown once claimed that using a bread knife you can slice a tomato as thinly as any other knife - I don't agree with this as I can consistently get translucent thin slices of tomato with my MAC Chef's knife but am unable to do so with my bread knife.
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IndyRob



Joined: 17 Dec 2006
Posts: 77

PostPosted: Wed Dec 20, 2006 1:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Having just finally decided I was worthy of a couple of good knives, and having tried them on tomatoes, I think it's about cost and culture.

Good chef's knives work just as well (or better) on tomatoes as serrated knives. But a $5 serrated knife will beat a $10 chefs knife (or a dull $500 knife) hands down. But here's the rub.... A properly sharpened chef's knife is serrated. It's just very finely serrated.

So I think there are two possible explanations why a TV chef might reach for the serrated blade:

1) The chef has been historically accustomed to dull knives and the serrated knife has never let him down.

-or-

2) The chef is catering to an audience he/she knows is likely to have dull or cheap knives. It's a matter of trying to ensure success.

For my part though, if I'm looking for paper-thin tomato slices, I reach for my cheap plastic mandolin with surgical steel (non-serrated) blades. It takes me longer to rinse it off than it does to reduce an entire tomato to uniform paper-thin slices.
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opqdan



Joined: 25 May 2006
Posts: 43

PostPosted: Thu Dec 21, 2006 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

IndyRob wrote:
Having just finally decided I was worthy of a couple of good knives, and having tried them on tomatoes, I think it's about cost and culture.

Good chef's knives work just as well (or better) on tomatoes as serrated knives. But a $5 serrated knife will beat a $10 chefs knife (or a dull $500 knife) hands down. But here's the rub.... A properly sharpened chef's knife is serrated. It's just very finely serrated.

So I think there are two possible explanations why a TV chef might reach for the serrated blade:

1) The chef has been historically accustomed to dull knives and the serrated knife has never let him down.

-or-

2) The chef is catering to an audience he/she knows is likely to have dull or cheap knives. It's a matter of trying to ensure success.

For my part though, if I'm looking for paper-thin tomato slices, I reach for my cheap plastic mandolin with surgical steel (non-serrated) blades. It takes me longer to rinse it off than it does to reduce an entire tomato to uniform paper-thin slices.
This is exaclty what I was going to say. The job of the chef on TV is to teach the audience how to cook. Since only a very small portion of the audience will actually have a non serrated knife capable of slicing a tomato thinly without mashing it, they don't bother doing it that way.

My Shun knife slices through easily, and I have never had a problem with the blade slipping. When I use my wife's semi-cheap stamped knife, I sometimes skip off of the tomato. I try to keep the knife honed and sharp, so I can see how this would happen a lot more if a person were not to sharpen their knives for 20 years.

When I visit my parents house and use my mother's knives, I could cut a tomato just as well if I were to hold the knife upside down. In this case, I use a serrated blade.
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SirSpice



Joined: 04 Dec 2006
Posts: 95

PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2006 2:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

opqdan wrote:
When I visit my parents house and use my mother's knives, I could cut a tomato just as well if I were to hold the knife upside down. In this case, I use a serrated blade.


I gotta admit, at both of my grandmother's houses, the ONLY knives I could cut ANYTHING with are the bread knives.

But than again, if your regular knife is dull enough that you'll need your serrated knife to cut a tomato, why not use your serrated knife for everything?
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Guest






PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

the design purpose of serrations on a knife, is to keep the majority of the sharpened edge, out of contact with the cutting board underneath. That is the only reason serrrated knifes were invented.

Even a VERY soft cutting board, will badly damage a knife's edge.

So your serrated knife has merely not yet lost as much sharpness, as your regular knife.

I've read that in some large-scale meatcutting operations, there's a full-time sharpener who gives a freshly sharpened knife to each operator after TEN MINUTES of meatcutting.
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SirSpice



Joined: 04 Dec 2006
Posts: 95

PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anonymous wrote:
the design purpose of serrations on a knife, is to keep the majority of the sharpened edge, out of contact with the cutting board underneath. That is the only reason serrated knifes were invented.


Though it's true that serrations keep the cutting edge off the board, that is not the reason they were invented (which was in the stone age BTW). Serration produce little tears in the material being cut along the length of the blade, which is in contrast with a smooth blade that wedges through a a material downwards. Every knife has some type of serration and hopefully a sharpened edge.

The idea for using a bread knife is that you can't cut through it by just wedging it downwards like you would with an apple. But a tomato can be cut very smoothly even with a regular knife that decently sharp.

Anonymous wrote:
Even a VERY soft cutting board, will badly damage a knife's edge.


Though hitting the cutting board is probably the only way I personally wear down my knives, it doesn't damage them enough to warrant the use of a serrated knife.

Anonymous wrote:
I've read that in some large-scale meatcutting operations, there's a full-time sharpener who gives a freshly sharpened knife to each operator after TEN MINUTES of meatcutting.


I can believe that, since cutting meat smoothly requires a very sharp knife, but I think the constant sharpening is in part due to the use of soft steeled knives. Which may fit the operation from a sanitation standpoint, since they can replace these knives on a regular basis.
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johnny
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2007 2:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For me, the knife doesn't matter. I use "dull" knives all the time and my tomatos are purrfect. Good Luck cooking, people. Smile
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neuralstatic
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2007 5:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

not sure about the stone age claim.... though this seems a little late:

In 1919 Syracusan Joseph Burns had a flash of inspiration while using a glass-cutting tool with a scalloped edge-wouldn't this be great for cutting bread? He patented his idea and formed a knife manufacturing company; the serrated knife was born.

-neuralstatic
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youngcook



Joined: 11 Apr 2007
Posts: 97
Location: GA

PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2007 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Serrated knives are for bread and tough foods, not tomatoes. tomatos are soft and hence no "sharp" knife needed. Big smile
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SirSpice



Joined: 04 Dec 2006
Posts: 95

PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2007 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

youngcook wrote:
Serrated knives are for bread and tough foods, not tomatoes. tomatos are soft and hence no "sharp" knife needed. Big smile


Have you ever tried cutting a ripe tomato with a "dull" knife? It's not impossible, but it's not a very elegant procedure.
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youngcook



Joined: 11 Apr 2007
Posts: 97
Location: GA

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I have. It is a little messy, but not too much. Tomatoes are fine to me. I am not making it for the Mr. Bush or Sonny Perdue,governor of GA! Big smile
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the country in general
Guest





PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2007 11:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

got some tomatoes for Mr. Bush, but not for his eating. More for wearing.
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