Sometimes you may question whether all kitchen knives and utensils are really necessary. Nobody doubts that a chef knife, a frying pan, and a cutting board are absolutely key for cooking various meals. How about other tools like kitchen shears? Can they be replaced by a normal pair of scissors, or do they offer other benefits?
Aside from the obvious ability to prepare meat, vegetables, and seafood, kitchen shears have other unexpected applications. You can use them to crack nuts, open bottles, unscrew jars, and even as a makeshift screwdriver in some cases. Above all else, kitchen shears double up as a very good pair of scissors that you can use away from the kitchen.
As this article will prove, the large number of kitchen shear uses makes this a very handy tool for all chefs. Although not essential for cooking, a solid pair of shears will help you in more ways than you could imagine. Here’s why you should consider getting a pair for yourself.
Parts of kitchen shears
- Blades: Shears cut through objects thanks to a pair of sharp stainless steel blades. To slide past each other smoothly, the blades are flat on one side. They often come with single bevel edges and flat spines, and some shears have serrated blades. Unlike kitchen knives, the blades of shears tend to be symmetrical and do not have such a sharp point.
- Handle: Above the pivot point are the handles of both blades. The metal is normally covered with a protective plastic or foam material.
- Finger holes: On the handles, the large holes accommodate a person’s fingers and ensure that the shears do not slip while you cut.
- Pivot point: The two blades meet at the pivot point. Here, a screw joins the blades together and allows them to rotate freely. The distance between the finger holes and the pivot point provides a big mechanical advantage when cutting or crushing tough ingredients.
- Central groove: Between the finger holes and the pivot point, kitchen shears have a distinct groove with teeth on both sides. This is important both for gripping and crushing, as we explain below.
- Bottle opener (optional): Below the central groove, some kitchen shears have another interesting feature. When the shears are fully closed, this hollow section can be used as a bottle opener. Some models have this component in a different location ― the small gap in the blades of some shears can act as a bottle opener.
- Screwdriver (optional): Again, this is not present on every model of kitchen shears. Some varieties have short metal sections sticking out from the handles. These are actually small screwdrivers.
How are kitchen shears different from regular scissors?
You can see from the previous list that there are a few features of kitchen shears that regular scissors do not have. In general, kitchen shears are very similar to scissors because they are fundamentally the same tool. You can think of these as kitchen scissors.
In terms of build, kitchen shears are noticeably larger and heavier than ordinary scissors. The blades are bulkier and stiffer. This is understandable since they need to cut through meat, cartilage, and vegetables instead of paper and cardboard.
Standard kitchen shear uses
Kitchen shears can be helpful in several ways when cooking meat. For example, they can cut off excess fat from pieces of steak or bacon. Due to the large forces you can apply with this tool, cutting through tough chicken and turkey joints is no problem.
Preparing poultry this way is much safer since the finger holes provide a secure grip. On the other hand, a sharp knife could slip more easily. A handy pair of kitchen shears can also cut sausages and bacon into small pieces for frying.
Your shears can help you to cut seafood items like squid and octopus into bite-sized pieces. The blades of kitchen shears can cut the shells of shrimp so that you can easily remove the veins.
Bread & pastries
When baking a pie, you need the dough to fit the dimensions of your baking tray. Using shears, you can cut off excess dough. If you want to make smaller treats like croissants, you need to cut sheets of pastry into specific shapes. Shears will tear through the pastry effortlessly and neatly.
Shears are very convenient for removing crusts from bread slices too.
Fruit & vegetables
Shears are effective at shredding cabbage and lettuce very finely. They can also cut tomatoes, bananas, and dried fruit into smaller pieces.
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Cutting herbs with shears is the easiest way, especially if you are not very confident with a knife. Kitchen shears can very quickly turn a bunch of fresh parsley or basil into a pile of finely chopped herbs. Add these to dishes for a burst of extra flavor.
Other standard uses
Food aside, kitchen shears can be useful for cutting open food packaging. The stiff blades can cut through tough plastic and cardboard much better than normal scissors.
Special kitchen shear uses
Do you remember the serrated groove in the center of the shears? One clever way to use this feature is to open lids of containers. Open the shears wide so that the lid fits within the groove. Then squeeze both handles hard to grip the lid securely. Hold the container with your other hand and rotate to unscrew the lid.
Some shears do not have this feature at all. If you buy a pair of shears, the bottle opener can be in one of two locations. The first is just above the pivot point. To use this type of bottle opener, close the shears completely and align the hole with your bottle cap. Then twist upward to take the cap off.
Perhaps you have different kitchen shears with the bottle opener on one of the blades. In that case, close the shears and place the bottle cap within this groove. Apply upward pressure until the cap pops off.
If you thought we had finished with the central groove, think again. This fantastic feature has another unexpected use; crushing. Specifically, the groove works great as a shell cracker for nuts, thus saving your hands lots of pain and frustration. In addition, you can break the shells of some seafood such as lobster and crab.
Screwing & unscrewing
Only a few kitchen shears are manufactured with this extra feature. If your shears do have pieces of metal sticking out from the handles, then you have a spare screwdriver in your hands! Indeed, this probably will not fit every type of screw and is not as comfortable as using a real screwdriver. However, if nothing else is available, this is a very handy backup.
How to clean your kitchen shears
The great thing about kitchen shears is that you can dismantle them and clean them thoroughly. This fact is important if you cut raw meat or fish with your shears. Bacteria can enter the pivot joint where it is very difficult to clean.
Not all shears have the same type of joint, and how you take them apart depends on this. If your shear blades are held together with a screw, open the shears and place them flat on a table. Hold one of the handles and gradually unscrew the joint by rotating anti-clockwise with a screwdriver. When the screw is loose enough, use your fingers to pull it out. The two blades will now be separate.
Some shears do not have screws at all. As the video above shows, you can disassemble some models by hand.
Once you have separated your shears, it’s time to start cleaning them. Treat kitchen shears like any other utensil. Avoid throwing them in your dishwasher unless you want to damage the blades.
Instead, clean them with a sponge and hot water from your tap. The disassembled shears are very easy to dry ― simply wipe them with a clean towel, join the blades together, and they are ready to be used again.
Invest in equipment to improve your cooking
Useful tools like shears will make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. If you are interested in more brilliant kitchen gadgets, take a look at our other blog posts. Don’t hesitate on investing in a main cutting tool for all your kitchen preparations as well.