I already wrote about testing the Caleb White Penance in my 5 Knives and a pile of ribs post, but I think a better overall test of a knife is how it does with produce. Yesterday I put the Penance to the test in the form of making and canning 8 pints of salsa from my garden tomatoes (about 8 pounds or so).
This is my first year canning, and this is my second batch of salsa. The recipe is from Food.com, and is delicious. My wife and I ate the better part of a jar from the last batch this evening.
The first step is to mise en place my onions, jalapenos, garlic, bell peppers, and spices. Dicing the peppers and onions was a snap, but when it came to the fine dice of the jalapeno and garlic the knife is just no substitute for a chefs. My knuckles would often get in the way due to the non-elevated handle position. I found it was better to grasp the top of the knife and press/rock the blade over piles of garlic or pepper, and using this motion I was able to do a more than passable job. One other challenge was the initial halving of the onions which were larger than the knife’s blade, but this isn’t difficult to overcome.
I needed to peel my tomatoes, so I first scored the bottom of each one. The skin sliced effortlessly, and I actually needed to be careful not to cut too deeply into the flesh. After blanching and an ice bath, the skin comes right off.
Then came the hard work- coring and dicing a huge colander of maters. The Penance proved to be reasonably efficient at the task. If I treated the knife like a mid-sized paring knife, and adopted an appropriate motion, the work was easily accomplished.
The knife is surprisingly grippy for a knife with no jimping or handle stippling/checkering. The polished Micarta becomes grippier when coated in tomato juice. The effect is not as pronounced as it is on my Ontario TAK, but is noticeable nonetheless in the finer-threaded Micarta of the Penance.
The handle shape also comes into play. There is a generous swell to the rear portion of the handle, which fits nicely against the middle and ring fingers, and the pommel portion fits against my pinkie. It is extremely comfortable in the hand.
The Penance performed extremely well in this salsa challenge. While it is by no means a kitchen knife, it would be comfortable enough if pressed into service in a camp setting. I still need to cut up a nice NY Strip with it, but as of now I am comfortable saying that the knife passes the culinary portion of testing with flying colors.