One of August’s greatest gifts is a simple tomato sandwich, made with white bread, salted and peppered rounds of juicy tomatoes and a slathering of mayo. Or maybe you’re a fan of the Caprese salad, which also stars perfectly sliced tomatoes along with mozzarella and basil.
But if your knife destroys your tomatoes, you’ll be enjoying none of it.
If you’re the rare home cook who religiously sharpens and hones your knife, you may have a certain amount of luck slicing through a soft, ripe tomato. But the key to slicing through a tomato without putting in all that work is simply using a good serrated knife.
The flat blade of a chef’s or paring knife will press down on the tender skin of a tomato if it’s even the least bit dull, squishing it down instead of slicing through it. When that pressure is applied to the tomato’s plump innards, which are full of seeds and liquid, that tomato will instantly explode, leaving you with a soggy, misshapen mess.
A serrated knife, on the other hand, has sharp teeth that saw through the tomato in a back-and-forth motion without the need to apply any weight on it, leaving the inside of the flesh intact. If your serrated knife is good enough, it can feel almost like the knife is sawing through the tomato without any help from you at all.
If your tomatoes are a reasonable size, you can choose a serrated knife on the shorter side (about 4 inches should do). But if you have a harvest of tomatoes the size of softballs, you can opt for a serrated bread knife, which can be 8-plus inches long, allowing you to saw through the entire girth of the tomato in one swift motion.
Either way, you’ll never mangle your tomatoes again once you invest in a good serrated knife. And the best part? All of the knives below cost less than $20 apiece.
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