Published on January 1st, 2010 | by Greg0
Fun With Ceramics (From Kyocera)
I can remember the first time I heard about using ceramics for making anything other than flower vases and such. I was still in elementary school and my best friend’s older brother was getting ready to start college. He’d been accepted into MIT and was going to be studying ceramic engineering. I remember discussion of using ceramics in computer chips or computer parts, and my nine-year old brain had a difficult time reconciling that thought, because to me ceramics were big and bulky. I understand more about ceramics today than I did 20 some-odd years ago, but in all honesty they don’t cease to amaze me. A classic case in point would be my recent experience with ceramic knives. I’ve used ceramics to sharpen metal instruments, but this was my first time using ceramics as the primary blade.
Kyocera is at the forefront of ceramics, using them in everything from ball-point pens to solar module supplies. They’re pretty good at what they do, so when Truly Obscure was offered the chance to try out some of their ceramic kitchen supplies we were happy to do so. Let’s talk about the peelers, graters and scrapers first.
When I first encountered the Perfect Peeler my thought was that it was very similar to a razor that one might use to shave with. The cool thing about this peeler is that the blade rotates, so you can use it on any shape without changing the way you hold your own wrist and hand too much. If only all things in the world were this kind to our wrists! Since the blade is ceramic it will never rust and doesn’t react with acids, oils and salts, which can dull metal blades. It goes in the dishwasher without complaint for easy clean-up. It really is the best peeler we’ve used, though for the life of me I can’t see why it isn’t available in other colors (red only).
The Medium Grater is made entirely of ceramic, and is perfect for grating fibrous foods like ginger. The sharp teeth make short work of all that tough fiber, leaving you with nothing but usable food. It has a silicone ring on the underside that keeps it in place, so you don’t feel like you’re chasing it all over the countertop while in use. Try it out with anything you’d use a hand-held grater for.
The Ceraplaner Utility Scraper can be used both in the kitchen and around the house and garage as well, if you’re so inclined. It’s made of high-tech ceramic called zirconium oxide, which doesn’t rust or conduct electricity, so it’s safe to use even on electrical devices (please unplug your electrical devices before using any kind of scraper or cleaner on them, always). It seems such an innocuous device, this scraper, I wondered what I would test it out on at first. Turns out it’s become my go-to tool anytime there’s something that needs to be cleaned off the stovetop, the butcher block, the sink, the floor- pretty much everywhere. It’s super handy to have around.
< Oh the knives! I’ve long been that person that stands at the knife display in the kitchen store, looking at the knives longingly, like a child who desperately wants a puppy. Ceramic knives have been on my radar for a while, I’d just never had the chance to try them out. They are a joy to use. Before I tell you more though, a word of caution about ceramic knives. First, they are relatively delicate- use them on wood or plastic cutting boards, not glass. Try not to drop them, because while the blade is just as sharp, or even sharper than metal, it is ceramic and will break more readily than metal. I’m used to using a sheath on my sharp knives, and when not paying attention the white and black of the ceramic blade look a lot like those sheaths to me, I ended up grabbing at the blade while not paying attention. Thankfully I didn’t cut myself, but it was a serious reminder for me to always pay attention when I’m using a knife! All three of the knives we tried out have 6” blades, which is probably an ideal length for most people. I tend to prefer a longer blade, but that is more likely a result of using many more knives than the average at-home cook.
The Revolution Series 6 Nakiri Vegetable Cleaver is a knife with a traditional Japanese cleaver shape. It’s ideal for nearly any kind of vegetable, and the squared off end is useful for scooping up your diced food. This knife, like all of the knives I tried, have ceramic blades and look pretty cool in white and black. Next is the 6 Inch Chef’s Knife that I tried in black and white. (The Truly Obscure staff was divided as to which one was prettier, though the faux-Damascus look on the black model was certainly eye-catching!) This is definitely an all-purpose knife. It’s not too big that it will wear your hand out if you’ve got a lot of chopping to do, and it’s super-sharp, making short order of all kinds of things like onions, potatoes and carrots. Lastly I tried out the 5 Inch Micro Serrated Utility in white. This is the knife you want for slicing delicate fruits and vegetables. It goes through tomatoes like butter, and with paper thin results. Because the knife is serrated it will work on bread, though you’d be best to keep it to small loaves, simply because it’s not a long knife. For big loaves of bread look for longer knives like the Super Bread Knife, which will make it all the way through a large loaf of bread.
All of these are available directly through Kyocera’s website, as well as on Amazon. Many of these can also be found in high-end kitchen stores and department stores. All of the knives range in price from $70 to $80 and the peelers and graters range in price from $17 to $22.