Knives are one of the essential kitchen tools. It’s almost impossible to cook a decent meal without using a knife in some way. Whether it’s chopping veggies, preparing meat, or serving up the final product, truly, knives are one of the most important tools we use every day in the kitchen. That’s why it’s so important to keep up the maintenance on them. A dull knife can lead to a lot of issues!
Why You Should Sharpen Your Knives
The obvious answer that comes to mind is that sharper knives are more effective and easier to use. While this is certainly true, there is another thing to consider. Your safety. Sure, sharp knives are dangerous, but dull knives can also be dangerous! When the blade is dull, you have to put more pressure on the knife, making it more likely that you’ll slip and cut yourself. Even if your knife is dull, you can easily cut yourself with enough pressure. So, it’s important to keep those knives sharp!
The Proper Tools
Most of us have seen professional chefs use a honing steel. Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t actually sharpen the knife, it simply aligns the blade. You might be tempted to skip this step, but that would be a mistake! In order to properly and evenly sharpen a knife, you’ll want to make sure the blade is straight.
The easiest way to use the honing steel is to lay a cloth down on a flat surface and set the honing steel point down on top of the cloth. Then, take your knife and set it against the side at about a twenty-degree angle. Making sure to keep the pressure even, give the knife a few swipes, alternating sides.
The next step is sharpening the knife. There are several methods for sharpening the blade. The first is to use a basic knife sharpener like the one pictured above. It’s pretty self explanatory. Slide the base of the knife into the coarse side first, pulling the blade towards you. It only takes a few swipes, and then switch over to the fine side.
If your knife is really dull, or you have an expensive set of knives you really want to take care of, you can use a whetstone. First things first – get the stone wet! You’ll want to submerge it in water until all of the bubbles are gone. Then, starting with the coarse side (usually the brown side), set your knife at a twenty-degree angle again and press down in a diagonal line. Again, it only takes a few swipes, and then you can turn the whetstone over and repeat the motion on the fine side.
Keeping Your Knives Sharp
You should really only need to hone and sharpen your knives every couple of months, so if you find that your knives are getting dull faster than that, it’s time to check up and see how you are treating them! One of the biggest mistakes people make with their knives is putting them in the dishwasher. With all the rattling and the extended exposure to high heat, the blades will get dull much faster. Instead, simply give the knife a quick soap and rinse in the sink by hand, and then dry it off to prevent rusting.
Another important way to keep knives sharper for longer is to make sure you’re storing them correctly. If you keep your knives in a drawer, you’ll want to invest in knife sleeves. This protects the blade but also protects you as you’re reaching for the sharp knives. Of course, one of the most popular ways to store knives is to use a knife block. Just make sure the slots are tall enough for the knife so that the tip isn’t hitting the bottom.
The video below goes into more detail about the sharpening process and tips on keeping knives in tip-top shape!