Knife Work: Stay Sharp
- by Omaha Steaks
Some items in your kitchen are spur-of-the-moment buys (we’re looking at you, avocado slicer), but after two lengthy posts about the subject, you should understand by now that quality kitchen knives should not be. Ever. Leaning heavily on the “investment” side of the purchase-spectrum, proper care is paramount for keeping your investment around as long as possible. This is why we came up with how to take care of your knives …
Fun fact: when it comes to knives, proper care doesn’t just mean what you do after cutting and chopping. You can actually take action to help keep them sharp and working like a champ every time you start using them. And “the start” seems like as good as place as any to begin.
With every cut, chop, slice, and dice, the blade loses a teensy-weensy bit of its alignment. As you can imagine, over time and various uses, these teensy-weensy misalignments can turn into a bigger problem: a dull knife. Sure, they may still look and feel sharp… we’ll wait while you get a bandage if you literally “felt” for sharpness… but you might notice they just don’t cut through your food as buttery as they did before.
So, there are two general ways to keep your blades loving life on the bleeding edge: honing and sharpening.
- Honing is when you see chefs scrape the blade of their knives along a long steel rod. This realigns the blade back to center by “pushing” the metal straight. To contrary belief, honing doesn’t sharpen the knife, it just tends to feel like it since the blade will tend to slice better now that it’s straight. Honing can – and should – be done most every time you are about to use the knife. Yes. That.
- Sharpening shaves or grinds the metal down to give you the edge you need. This will scatter itty-bitty metal shavings, so we recommend you don’t sharpen your knives over or near food you want to serve. Some methods of sharpening are using a whetstone, an electric sharpener, or a sharpening steel. Unless you’re using your knives profusely every day, you can get away with sharpening them a few times a year.
Keep in mind your knives’ country of origin, too, and only hone or sharpen them on the beveled edges. Remember, Japanese-made knives, or Gyutou, have only one beveled edge, so sharpening it on both sides is a fabulous way to ruin your fancy Japanese knife.
And when you’re done working with your knife, just stick that little fella in the sink or dishwasher, right? Nope. Never. Absolutely not. Letting knives soak in the sink or sit in the dishwasher with food remnants invites rust, wear, and possibly corrosion. Best to immediately wash and dry it by hand and put it… where?
- Well, a knife isn’t a knife without the blade, so when considering what type of knife storage you want to use, make sure it’s a place that won’t harm the edge.
- A hard knife block may look attractive and make you seem like a Dad that knows his way around knives, but sliding your blades in and out of the block will just dull the blades quicker.
- A cork knife “block,” on the other hand, is a trendy way to organize your blades. Plus, cork is a soft and supple material so your knives won’t dull as quickly when sliding in and out of their new home.
- A soft knife sheath will protect your blade fairly well and allow you to drop it straight in a utensil drawer. But, on the other hand, if you’re not usually the type to keep an organized utensil drawer, rummaging around the drawer for your blade could be thought of as a potential hazard.
- Finally, a magnetic strip is a solid choice – knives out of the way, handles where you can grab them, blades not sliding against hard surfaces. You just need to dedicate some wall space to it.
We know three weeks of knife talk might be a lot to retain, so if you only keep one thing in mind, remember this: no matter how you slice it – whether you’re preparing your food or cutting into a magnificent steak – knives are and will always be an integral part of the culinary experience. So knife carefully, friends!