As the saying goes… A dull knife is a chef’s worst enemy. Well… that’s actually not the real saying. The real quote is, “A sharp knife is a chef’s best friend.”
But this revelation usually takes place when your working with a knife so dull that you end up demolishing your tomatoes (or even worse, cutting yourself). The difference between being a master in the kitchen and just another person struggling at home starts with how you care for your knives.
7 Tips On Caring For Your Kitchen Knives
A high-quality kitchen knife can cost you over $100, but it’s the type of investment that will make you want to run to the kitchen when you get home (rather than run far, far away). An investment into a good set of knives will make chopping veggies a quick (and easy) experience.
Not only can it making dicing up a few onions actually fun, but it’s also much safer. There are many different types of kitchen knives but a dull knife is one of the biggest hazards in any kitchen. Before you go out and invest in a chef’s knife (or a whole set), there are a few things you’ll need to know about caring for your essential kitchen knives.
1. Don’t Leave Your Knives in the Sink
You’ve been there. I’ve been there. Everyone’s been there. You reach your hand into the bubbly sink full of dishes and all of a sudden… “Ouch!” There’s a knife in there!
Not only is it a hazard for whoever is washing the dishes, but leaving your knives in the sink can be very damaging for your knives. The moment you’re done with your knife, wash it, dry it, and put it back in your knife block.
How your blade can be damaged: Scratching, altering, rusting, bending or breaking
2. Don’t Store Your Knives in the Utensils Drawer
Just like leaving a knife in the sink, leaving them in a utensils drawer is asking for trouble. The blade can quickly be scratched or dented from being scrambled around from opening and closing the drawer.
If you don’t have a knife block to store your knives in, you can buy a knife sheath (a protective knife case) to guard your blade.
3. Wash Your Knives by Hand, Never in the Dishwasher
The dishwasher might be convenient, but there’s a high risk that the blade will get dinged during the wash cycle. Wash your knives by hand and the blade will thank you.
4. Don’t Leave Your Knives to Dry in the Dish Rack
Leaving your knives to dry in the dish rack can lead to dulling the blade if it’s next to any other utensils. Mold and mildew can even build upon it as bacteria is attracted to moisture (not to mention, it can cause an odor).
It can also introduce potential rusting if it is exposed to water too much over the course of its life. To protect it from dulling and rust, dry the knife right after washing it.
5. Hone Your Blade Before Each Use
Don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it sounds. Most knife sets come with a honing steel (that long metal thing that no one ever touches). The honing steel is not a sharpener. Rather, it actually pushes the edge of the knife back to the center, realigning it without taking off much (if any) material.
The blade will seem sharper after honing it as it is straightened. A quick 15 seconds of sliding your blade edge from end to end (on each side) is all it takes to quickly prep your knife before use.
6. Sharpen Your Knife at Least Once a Year
Sharpening your knife is something you should do once a year (and if you’re really dedicated, even more). It involves actually shaving off bits of the blade to produce a completely new edge. You should go to a professional to have them sharpened every year.
If you find yourself using your knives quite a bit, you can get a tool called a wet stone (exactly what it sounds like), to sharpen up your blade throughout the year as well.
7. Always Cut On Cutting Boards
Never… ever… ever… cut on the countertop. Or on a plate. Countertops are almost always too hard of a surface for the blade to handle (not to mention, your countertops will get terribly damaged).
Stick with cutting boards (ideally solid wood) that doesn’t slide. A good knife is your ultimate companion in the kitchen.
Pro tip: If you have a smaller, thinner cutting board that slides, get a cloth wet, wring it out, and place it flat under the cutting board before using it. It will make it stick, allowing you an easier cut.
By using these seven simple tips to take care of your knives, you set yourself up for success in the short term, and the long term. Knives are a fragile tool that if mishandled, can be damaged with the slightest form of mistreatment.
Taking just a little extra time to maintain your knives will allow you to flourish in the kitchen. Mastering your knives is the first step in establishing your victory in the kitchen that even your friends and family will notice and appreciate.