If cooking is a new hobby for you, you might be in the market for some new equipment, such as a set of knives that will have you slicing and dicing with the best of them. Two brands beloved by professionals and hobbyists alike are Wusthof and Zwilling. We've done the research to help you determine the advantages and disadvantages of these two brands.
Wusthof and Zwilling knives are both high-quality brands with centuries of history. You will have the best of the best regardless of which you choose. It comes down to personal preference regarding the minor differences between them.
So what are the differences between the two brands? Continue reading to find out. We'll also cover other important questions regarding these two brands and how to maintain these knives.
Similarities And Differences Between Wusthof And Zwilling
Zwilling was founded in Solingen, Germany in 1731. Wusthof was founded in the same city in 1814. Solingen has been known as the "City of Blades" since medieval times, so the steelworking tradition out of which the companies grew goes back even further than their foundings.
Forged and stamped blades
Both brands have options for forged or stamped blades. A forged blade is formed from a bar of steel that is heated and then molded into its finished shape. Wusthof uses robots for most of its production steps but still has the finishing touches put on the knives manually. Zwilling forges its knives using a process that includes robots, liquid nitrogen baths to temper the blades, and human artisans putting on finishing touches.
A stamped blade is made by punching the shape out of a giant flat sheet of steel. These are much faster and easier to make and correspondingly cost much less. However, they're also much lighter weight than forged knives and tend to be significantly less durable.
One of the differences between a forged and stamped blade is the presence of a bolster. A bolster is a thickened area of steel between the blade and the tang. The tang is the part of the knife enclosed in the handle. The bolster helps give a quality knife its balance and can also help protect your fingers from sliding into the path of the blade when you're cutting rapidly.
Hardness and sharpness
Most Wusthof knives are hardened to a Rockwell hardness of 58 and sharpened to 14 degrees per side. Most Zwilling knives are hardened to a Rockwell hardness of 56-57 and sharpened to 15 degrees per side.
A hard, sharp knife is going to cut better than a soft, dull knife, but Wusthof and Zwilling knives are both so good at cutting that you're unlikely to notice the difference.
Most Zwilling knives are made with a distinct downward-curving section at the end of the handle. Some chefs prefer this feature because it prevents your pinky finger from slipping off the end of the handle.
Wusthof knives come in a wider variety of styles, but for the most part have a simple curved handle which many people find easy and comfortable to grip. Wusthof knives also tend to have longer handles, so if you have small hands, you might find them unwieldy.
If you're undecided between the two brands, try going to a kitchen store, such as Williams Sonoma, and testing how each knife feels in your hand.
Is Zwilling the same as Henckels?
Technically, the full name of the Zwilling brand is Zwilling J. A. Henckels. This is a combination of the original "twin" moniker and the name of its founder's son, who inherited the business.
The Henckels family also owns and operates Henckels International. The primary difference is where the knives are produced. The original Zwilling line is still produced in Solingen, Germany, just as it has been for almost 300 years. The Henckels International line is produced in factories all over the world, primarily in Spain.
The Zwilling brand is a premium brand and has a price tag to match. Henckels International knives, by contrast, are more entry-level in both price and quality. This doesn't mean that they're bad knives by any means. For casual home use, it might turn out that Henckels International knives suit you perfectly well and your wallet can remain a little fatter.
If the difference between the two is important, look for the original twin strongman logo on the Zwilling knives. Henckels International's logo, by contrast, has only one human figure.
Are Wusthof knives guaranteed for life?
According to their website, "WÜSTHOF knives carry a lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects." Note that this does not cover damage due to accidents or misuse. To prevent these types of damage, store your knives in a block or sheath and hand-wash them rather than putting them in the dishwasher where they can be scratched or chipped by other cutlery.
The warranty also doesn't cover normal wear and tear, but if you care for your knives properly, they could very well outlive you, so this is unlikely to be an issue!
Does Zwilling have a warranty?
Zwilling's website states that it "warrants to the initial purchaser that Zwilling products will be free of defects in material and workmanship from the date of purchase for as long as said purchaser owns the product." As with Wusthof, Zwilling does not cover damage due to accidents, misuse, or normal wear and tear.
How often should I sharpen my Wusthof knives?
Wusthof has an extensive care and sharpening section on their website. They recommend sharpening your knives once or twice per year. Since sharpening a knife removes a tiny amount of steel from the blade each time, sharpening them too often can severely shorten the life of your knife.
Wusthof recommends using their own sharpening products on their knives, since other brands' may not be hard enough to get the job done. Wusthof's sharpening products are tempered to 65 Rockwell in comparison to their blades' 58 Rockwell.
How do you maintain a Zwilling knife?
Zwilling's use and care page recommends washing the blades immediately after every use, especially after cutting high acidity foods. This prevents rust and tarnishing. They also recommend making sure to use knives only for their intended purpose. Other than boning knives, they are not intended to be used on bones. None of Zwilling's knives are intended to be used on frozen foods. And you definitely shouldn't try to use knives as screwdrivers or can openers!
Zwilling also points out that an important part of knife care is proper storage. Don't just leave your knives in a drawer where they can get chipped or dented by other utensils. Plus, they can slice your fingers when you go rummaging through the drawer. Instead, you should store your knives in sheathes, in a knife block, or on a magnetic strip.
Enjoy what a quality knife brings to your cooking
Are you still undecided between Wusthof and Zwilling knives? Rest assured that whichever you choose, you will have a kitchen tool that has had centuries of experience and craftsmanship poured into it. Take the plunge, purchase whichever knife strikes your fancy. Odds are you will find a blade that will be your daily companion for many years to come.
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