Is your chef’s knife turning into a giant butter knife? Well I’ve got the solution for you!
Here are 5 ways to maintain your knives to keep them sharp and to minimize accidents in the kitchen.
It’s all in the Board
Tempered glass cutting boards are one of the worst choices you can make in terms of trying to keep your knives sharp. The hardness of the material dulls knives faster than you can say “damascus steel 8” chef’s knife”. Sure, wooden or bamboo boards take more maintenance than the glass ones, but the time spent sharpening or replacing knives is well worth the time investment.
Clean up after yourself!
If you leave your knives with food residue for a long time, it can end up ruining the blade, so it is in your best interest to keep it clean. When washing the knife, do not put them through a dishwasher as the high temperatures and caustic cleaning chemicals will also ruin the knife. To wash your knife, all you really need is a bit of dishwashing soap to clean off the blade and make sure to dry it with a towel right after to store.
Generally speaking, all knives should be stored in a knife block. If you don’t have one and have to resort to putting it loose in a drawer, I highly recommend getting a cover for the blade to protect the edge and to protect your hand, should you accidentally touch the end of the blade.
I watch a lot of Food Network so I always see a promo ad with at least one chef using the honing steel.
Honing and sharpening a knife will help you keep your knife performing at its peak. The difference between honing and sharpening depends on the amount of material being removed from the edge of the knife. In honing, very little to negligible amount of steel is actually removed. Sharpening, on the other hand can remove significant amounts of metal from the blade in order to restore the edge and edge geometry from a well-worn knife.
For honing a knife, the most common tool to use is the honing steel. It is known by many names such as: Butchers steel, Sharpening steel, or Chefs steel. Basically this is a hardened steel rod that has a circular or oval cross section attached to a handle. The rod itself can be 8”, 10” or 12” in length. Typically I find that the 10” or 12” rod is more my preference. Watch this video by Bob Kramer who describes how to use one:
Honing is required every time you notice that your knife’s cutting performance has been degraded. A 15-20 second honing process should restore the knife back to top cutting performance again.
Tried honing and it’s not enough? Sharpening is the answer!
To sharpen a knife you will need some form of a sharpening stone. These stones are measured in abrasive grades ranging from 200 all the way up to 10,000. The way this grading works is the 200 grade stone will be the coarsest stone and will remove material very fast. The 10,000 grit stone will feel smooth to the touch and will hardly be abrasive at all. This 10,000 grit stone is used to place a mirror polish on the edge.
The way sharpening works is you start at a course grit to form the edge and then use progressively finer grits to remove the burr that forms at the edge during sharpening. You’ll probably want to start with two stones, a 600 and a 1000 grade. Most people I know have never attempted maintaining their knives beyond running them through basic knife sharpeners which get mediocre to okay results. For the knives that you want lasting in the kitchen, here’s Bob Kramer explaining how to use the sharpening stones.
For home use this sharpening exercise may need to be done every 2-3 months if you do a lot of cutting and slicing and the knife goes through a lot of abuse then frequency may go up to every month.
A good kitchen knife is probably one of the best investments you can make in the kitchen and it is crucial that you invest in maintaining it as well. By following these directions for choosing the right board, cleaning, storing, honing and sharpening your knives, you can expect a lifetime of happy cutting from your knife investment.
If you didn’t catch it already, I’m hosting a giveaway for a Victorinox 8” Chef’s Knife from their Fibrox series, you have until the end of March to enter.
Until we dine again and safe handling!
-The Piquey Eater