The 8 Best Tomato Knives
8. Pure Komachi 2 Series
7. Ginsu Essentials Series
6. Messermeister Serrated
5. Brandobay Stainless Steel
4. Victorinox Cutlery Fork-Tipped
3. Dalstrong Gladiator
2. Rada Cutlery
1. Wusthof 4109-7 Classic
A Fruit By Any Other Name
It is said that knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is keeping it out of the fruit salad, and philosophy asks if ketchup is, then, a smoothie. What's not debatable is that a little salt and pepper sprinkled on a juicy, heirloom tomato slice is delicious. In fact, this tasty plant is an integral part of such monumental culinary creations as the famed Caprese sandwich and the classic marinara sauce. At the heart of the best bruschetta is a perfectly ripe, diced red fruit. Tomato concassé is a widely used method of peeling tomatoes using boiling water and an ice bath; after removing the peels and seeds, the remaining flesh is ready for inclusion in haute cuisine.
It's true that we wouldn't have pizza or bolognese without this marvelous food. And those little, tiny ones, of the grape or cherry variety? The sweetness of those miniature strains is hard evidence that they are, in fact, fruit. For that matter, are you in the turkey club? Because no sandwich is the same without toothpicks, a triangle cut, and the moisture provided by a big slice of solano lycopersicum.
So, it's established that tomatoes are central to a lot of our favorite foods. Interestingly, more people are focusing on unique varieties of this food than on most vegetables and fruits. This is because of the difficulty of providing properly ripe product to stores and food manufacturers. Over the last century, plant breeders have used genetic hybridization to create varieties that actually ripen during the shipping process and retain their firmness longer, thus lasting longer in the store. Unfortunately, while the plant has been selected for shelf life, that advancement has been at the cost of flavor and nutrition. So, we're left with firm and flavorless produce from some grocery stores.
While high-tech fixes are on the way, the current solution to this is the heirloom tomato, which is one of many types of the plant that's more difficult to grow and ship properly. This makes it less prolific and more expensive, but the added flavor is often worth the cost. It also means it'll be softer than the pale, mass-produced examples. Once you get that ultra-ripe beauty home, that's when the real fun begins.
When Softer Is Harder To Slice
In the days of Shakespeare, attendees would bring rotten vegetables to showings at the Globe theater just in case the actors delivered less-than-stellar performances. The standard food of choice for chucking at the stage was the tomato — but it definitely had to be rotten. While a moldy fruit in the face is a shame, an unripe one to the head could mean a bad actor's final performance. Even though a nicely ripe tomato certainly splatters well, its softness can actually make it very difficult to slice open. Hack away at a juicy specimen, and you'll only succeed in smashing it, as the skin defies and turns your blade at each chop. Don't worry, you've made the right choice: that thick skin is indicative of both great flavor and nutrition. But how do you separate your salad topping into appropriately sized pieces? There's a knife for that.
A standard chef's knife will leave you sawing back and forth, dulling the blade and making consistent cuts difficult. Serrated knives have the sharp points needed to bite into the resilient skin even if the flesh is soft as can be, but bread knives, the most common serrated variety, are large and unwieldy when you're trying to julienne a roma. So there's a smaller type of serrated blade that's perfect for slicing tomatoes. It's just the right size and will keep you cutting food and not your fingers. And, naturally, the name of the game among many cooks and chefs is who can acquire the most toys.
Always Play It Safe
Like any different kind of knife, there's a wide range of features and styles available, so you can find exactly the right tool to suit your purpose. The tomato has a high water content, so it's important that the knife's handle is easily gripped and doesn't slip, even when wet. Additionally, many models have a split tip that's perfect for plucking the stems out of produce without having to put down the knife and pick up a different tool.
The major drawback of most serrated knives is that they're difficult to sharpen. Straight knives require knowledge and technique to keep razor-sharp, but the process is pretty simple. Serrated blades, however, require painstaking attention using multiple grades of handheld files, each small enough to fit in the individual serrations in the metal of the blade. It's usually a better idea to have the manufacturer or another professional sharpener tackle your dull bread or tomato knife.
On the other hand, you won't have to sharpen these blades quite as often as you would a chef's knife. This is because those sharp notches help the knife rip through the strong skin even if they're not perfectly honed. Also, because you generally can't make hard, downward chops with a serrated blade, the edge won't curl over as easily as it would from, for example, mincing parsley with a french-style knife.
As with all kitchen knives, quality and features vary across a wide spectrum. Inexpensive models can work better in settings where they might take a little abuse, like larger kitchens and corporate catering institutions. For the home chef, a German-made knife with deeply scalloped serrations and a three-rivet handle can really make working with foods more pleasant. High-end options are made from more durable steel that holds edges longer, and their increased weight and substantial feel really make the job safer.
Above all, make sure to clean and dry your knives and all your tools as thoroughly as possible to keep them in peak condition, so you can cook with ease for a long time to come.