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What is Cutlery?

07 January, 23

Cutlery, in its most basic form, is the set of utensils used in preparing, eating and serving food. It includes knives, forks, spoons and other items like corkscrews, serving dish holders, tongs and salad servers. Cutlery sets can be made of different materials such as stainless steel, silver, plastic, wooden and ceramic.

In this introduction, we will discuss the different types of cutlery sets, their uses and the advantages of using them:

Definition of cutlery

Cutlery refers to tableware and utensils used for preparing, serving and eating food. Cutlery is often referred to as silverware in a restaurant or dining setting. Cutlery usually consists of items such as knives, forks, spoons and other tools that are used for cutting, stirring and serving as well as decorative items such as servers and trays.

Historically, cutlery typically consisted of metallic elements crafted from precious metals such as silver or gold. Today however, cutlery can be made from many materials include stainless steel, plastic, synthetic polymers or even wood. Some utensils may even combine two or more of these materials together in a single design.

In addition to being functional items used when eating food, cutlery can also act serve a decorative purpose by adding style to any dining environment. Cutlers create unique designs out of different materials so that people can choose items based on their individual style preferences.

History of cutlery

The use of cutlery is believed to date back to as early as prehistory, when our ancestors used sharpened stones to cut up their food. Fast forward to the Middle Ages and a blacksmith’s workshop became known as a ‘cutlery’, where they forged various tools such as knives, forks and spoons. Over time, different shapes have been developed into famous designs.

Forks have made their way into Western cutlery sets by the 11th Century, with the first official fork being commissioned by Emperor Henry IV in Italy in 1047. Spoons originated even further back in time – rock carvings featuring images of spoons have been discovered in Europe that are thought to be up over 6,000 years old! Europe has had an impact on tableware design; England is well known for its centuries-old flatware crafted from Sheffield steel (silver-plated steel), while France is famed for ornate silver designs created from the late 16th century until now.

Today, there are a wide variety of materials used for knife making including stainless steel and carbon steel for blades; wood for handles; and plastics for lightweight pieces. Stainless steel is valued for its corrosion resistance qualities and plastic has become increasingly popular due to its low maintenance factor without sacrificing style or design.

Types of Cutlery

Cutlery is a general term used to refer to knives, forks and spoons, as well as any other tools used for eating. There are many different types of cutlery that can be used for different purposes, ranging from casual dining to formal occasions.

Some of the most common types of cutlery include:

  1. Dinner knives
  2. Dinner forks
  3. Dessert knives
  4. Dessert forks
  5. Spoons

Let's delve deeper into the different types of cutlery.


Knives are the most common type of cutlery. They come in various sizes and shapes, although they are all made of the same basic components – a blade, handle and sometimes a bolster. The steel used to make the blade must meet food-safety regulations, so it is not as hard or durable as the steel used to make other types of knives. It is important to keep your knives sharpened with a sharpening stone or electric knife sharpener; a dull knife can be dangerous to use.

The most common knives found in a home kitchen are:

a). Chef's Knife: This is perhaps the most popular kitchen knife because it can be used for almost any task – from chopping vegetables to slicing meat. It typically measures between 6 and 10 inches long, with a broad blade that curves towards the handle from both sides.

b). Paring Knife: A small 3-4 inch paring knife is perfect for delicate tasks such as peeling apples or removing blemishes from potatoes.

c). Boning Knife: This specialized curved 6-inch long knife helps cut through bones and joints when butchering meats.

d). Utility Knife/Sandwich Knife: This versatile knife measuring 6 to 8 inches long can take care of many basic duties such as slicing sandwiches or cutting up smaller fruits and vegetables into cubes or wedges.

e). Bread Knife: Bread knives have serrated blades that make clean cuts through tough crusts while keeping softer innards intact. They typically measure 8 -10 inches in length and should never be placed in a dishwasher since that could damage their serrations.


Forks are one type of cutlery used for eating food. They can be divided into two main types based on design: the standard fork, with two or three prongs, that's typically found in home kitchens and restaurant settings, and the more formal dessert fork with four or five tines. Both varieties come in a variety of sizes for different uses.

Standard forks are typically used for meals like salads and entrees where there is no need to cut or take apart a larger food item. These forks usually have two thin prongs and can sometimes have a third wider prong to help having cutting thicker foods such as steaks, chops and roasts but only at dinners with a more casual atmosphere.

Dessert forks are usually smaller in size than standard forks. As their name implies they're specifically designed for use when eating desserts such as cake, pastries, fruits and ice cream. These forks usually have four or five tines which make them better suited for cutting through soft sweets than the standard two-pronged fork.


Spoons are a type of cutlery typically used for eating or serving food, including soups and stews. Spoons may be made of metal, wood, porcelain or plastic, and come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Some common spoon varieties include dessert spoons, measuring spoons, teaspoon and tablespoon or soup spoon sizes. There is also a variety of specialty spoons available such as grapefruit spoons, oyster forks and ladles.

Dessert spoons are typically slightly larger than teaspoons but smaller than tablespoons. They are used for ice cream, puddings and jelly desserts. Measuring spoons usually come in set of four (1 teaspoon (tsp), 1/2 teaspoon (1/2 tsp), 1 tablespoon (tbsp) and 1/4 tablespoon (1/4 tbsp)). Teaspoon sizes usually measure 5ml while tablespoons measure 15ml. Soup spoons typically have rounder bowls than other types of spoons to help facilitate the consumption of thick soups or broths with solids in them.

Aside from traditional cutlery sets there is an array of novelty size and shape options available today—from egg-spoon hybrids to notched slotted table side coffee servers to long-handled teaspoons that reach into coffee pots without the risk of burns to miniature teaspoons used only for stirring espresso shots at most luxury coffeeshops.

Serving Utensils

Serving utensils make it easy to plate and serve food. There are a few essential tools every cook should have, including serving spoons and forks, as well as specialized utensils like slotted spoons, salad servers, skimmers, cake servers and cheese knifes. Here are some servings utensils that can add sophistication to your table setting:

  1. Carving knife – used to cut larger proteins such as roast beef or chicken
  2. Butter Knife – used to spread butter on dinner rolls and other foods
  3. Ladle – used for serving soups or sauces
  4. Salad Fork – used for tossing salads
  5. Gravy Ladle – a vessel designed for transferring gravy from a gravy boat
  6. Serving Tongs – used for handling cooked food without smashing it
  7. Soup Spoon – round bowl at the end of a long handle; used for eating soup or stirring food
  8. Vegetable Server – fork with curved tines; used to serve vegetables and other sides
  9. Cake Server – wide spatula-like blade with rounded edges; specifically designed for cutting cheesecakes and other plated desserts
  10. Cheese Knife – flat blade with an indentation in the center; mainly used to cut hard blocks of cheese

Uses of Cutlery

Cutlery, also known as silverware, encompasses a wide range of eating utensils, including forks, spoons, knives and other items used when eating. Cutlery is a staple in most homes and restaurants, and is essential for enjoying many meals.

There are many uses for cutlery, ranging from formal dining to everyday meal prep. Let's explore some of the different uses of cutlery:


Cutlery refers to an assortment of knives and spoons that are used primarily for eating, in addition to many other tasks. It is generally composed of stainless steel, but materials such as ivory and silver have been used in the past. Eating cutlery usually includes a fork, spoon, and knife.

i). Fork: A two-pronged utensil shaped like a trident symbol, typically made of metal or plastic. It is designed to stab food while leaving the hand free from the meal.

ii). Spoon: A small bowl-shaped utensil with a handle, made out of metals or plastic. It is typically used for scooping soups or sauces from large containers directly into the mouth without having to use one’s hands.

iii). Knife: A sharp knife with a flat blade and handle that is typically used for slicing food prior to eating it. This can be useful for slicing steaks or cutting steak into smaller pieces for smaller eaters. Knife sizes can range from butter knives all the way up to cleavers depending on what type of cutlery will best suit your needs.


Serving cutlery is primarily used when laying the table, with two or three serving spoons and forks usually being used. Serving spoons are typically larger for serving food onto a plate, such as a soup ladle. Serving forks have longer prongs which are useful for serving meats such as roasts and poultry, salads and vegetables from a platter or bowl.

Bread knives may also be included in the selection of serving cutlery, and if bread is present on the table it will normally be accompanied by a bread knife. Butter knives are also used for spreading butter or other condiments onto bread if it is served as part of the meal. Therefore, when setting your table you should have serving spoons, forks and butter knives available in order to provide all guests with what they need to enjoy their meal.


Cutlery can have multiple uses, not just related to food. Cutlery can be used to decorate your tables and other surfaces in the home or office. For example, modern cutlery sets come with napkin holders and special utensil holders that add a stylish look to a table. A knife block can also make an attractive addition to any kitchen countertop, for easy access and storage of your most-used knives.

Cutlery items like spoons, tongs, and cheese slicers can even be turned into decorative wall hangings by arranging them on a board or in a custom frame. Additionally, the handles of knives can be decorated with rhinestones or other materials for truly unique place settings.

Care and Maintenance

Cutlery, also known as silverware, is a valuable part of a household and should be taken care of properly. Cutlery comes in various styles, materials, and finishes and each individual piece will require its own maintenance.

In order to keep your cutlery looking its best and prolong its lifespan, it is important that you know how to properly care for it. In this article, we will discuss the care and maintenance of cutlery:


Improper cleaning can damage and shorten the lifespan of your cutlery, so it is important to care for your knives and other tools in the proper way. Whether you're dealing with stainless steel, stainless Damascus, titanium or ceramic cutlery, there are generally a few universal steps to cleaning them:

  1. Before washing any of your knives, use a damp cloth or brush to remove any pieces of food that may be stuck on it.
  2. For metal knives, wash each knife carefully with warm water and mild dish soap. For ceramic knives, you should avoid using dish soap as these can damage their blades over time; instead just use warm water to clean them thoroughly.
  3. After washing the blade and handle separately in warm water and (if necessary) mild dish soap, rinse both parts off thoroughly and then dry with a soft cloth before storing or using again.
  4. When finished with cleaning and rinsing, make sure that both parts of the blade are completely dry before storing it away or putting your knife back into its sheath for transport.

By taking these simple steps when caring for your cutlery you can help ensure that they remain in good condition for as long as possible.


To keep cutlery in top condition, you should always store it properly. For example, even when stored away in a drawer, the blades of knives should be kept separate and aside from other utensils. The sharp edges of knives can easily become damaged when struck against objects like forks and spoons during storage. Even the storage tray should be checked before putting the cutlery away to make sure that all sharp edges are facing down and not towards any other utensil.

When storing your cutlery for a more extended period, for instance, if you don't plan to use your cutlery for some time due to travel or relocation, consider wrapping each piece in a soft cloth to further protect their blades from damage and corrosion due to moisture buildup. If you can place them upright then do so as this will help prevent moisture collecting between overlapping utensils. Furthermore, storing your cutlery items near sources of direct sunlight can both damage the material of the utensil and rapidly increase corrosion rates thus leading to lower longevity of your set over time.


Cutlery can become dull over time due to use and abuse, but it's relatively easy to sharpen it. The preferred sharpening method is usually either manual or electric knife sharpening.

Manual Knife Sharpening: Manual knife sharpening involves using a steel rod or honing stone with light pressure. It takes a bit of practice in order to sharpen correctly but with repetition you can get the desired results. To begin, hold the honing steel at a 20 degree angle, then draw the blade down along it without putting too much pressure. Make sure to follow the same angle when running the full length of the rod and try to keep consistent strokes. After each stroke on both sides, turn the rod slightly in order to slowly raise the blade’s angle; this will help attain a sharper edge more quickly. When finished, check for burrs on either side of the blade before wiping it clean and testing its sharpness on soft food items such as tomatoes or lemons.

Electric Knife Sharpening: Electric knife sharpeners are simple and fast devices designed specifically for sharpening knives in just minutes; however, some models may not be suitable for all types of cutlery depending on their construction – so always read any included instructions beforehand if possible! Generally speaking though, electric sharpeners require you place your knife in its corresponding slot before letting them do their work; after several seconds (or longer depending on your particular model), remove your newly sharpened knife from its slot and test before cleaning with a damp cloth.


When selecting a set of cutlery, it's important to take your time and consider the type, material, design and finish of the piece. The type of cutlery you select should depend on what you normally eat. For example, if you eat a lot of salads and sandwiches, then salad forks and butter knives may be appropriate for your table setting. If you entertain often, then choose a set with a variety of pieces to accommodate large dinners or formal events.

Stainless steel is one of the most popular materials for cutlery because it's durable and easy to maintain. The design should reflect your tastes and lifestyle; there are countless styles from ornate traditional utensils to contemporary flatware designs with modern details like squared-off claws or curved tines. Finally, you'll need to decide whether you prefer polished or matte finishes – both add an interesting visual element when arranged neatly on the table before setting down for dinner!


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