How to Sharpen Kitchen Knives

Tom V Powell asked:

Owning a great set of kitchen knives is very important when it comes to preparing a meal properly. Some would even say that your knives are direct reflection of your skill as a cook. The better condition your knives are in, the more capable of a cook you are. This is very understandable, as the condition of your knives can mean the difference between a great meal and a horrible one.

One of the first things you should know is that the price of the knife is no indication of quality. Whether you have top line stainless steel knives, or discount ones from your local department store, what matters more is the condition you keep them in. Keeping your kitchen knives sharp might seem difficult, but by following these simple steps you can maintain your knives for a very long time.

First off, when doing any work with your knives, make sure to cut on a relatively soft surface. Surfaces such as wood and plastic are ideal. Never use your kitchen knives on hard surfaces such as metal or ceramic. The repetitive cutting motion on a hard surface will cause your kitchen knives to become dull and that’s something that none of us want. While it may take longer for these hard surfaces to dull a stainless steel or ceramic knife, it will happen regardless. So try to avoid them if possible.

Another tip that’ll let you preserve the quality of your kitchen knives, is to never use your kitchen knives outside of the kitchen. While it’s super tempting to use your kitchen knives as a screwdriver when you need one, this is not what they were designed to do. By using it in this fashion you’re not only damaging your knives, you’re insuring that your knives will be dulled beyond repair. Only use your knives to do tasks that it was designed to do, this will preserve your knives and ensure that you’ll have them when you need them.

The next tip in insuring the longevity of your kitchen knives is to avoid gritty materials when using them. Gritty materials wear down to the edge of your knives and cause nicks and blemishes on its blade. Keep your guard up when using your knives during outdoor activities. If it’s exposed to any moisture, make sure to immediately dry it off.

When you’re washing your kitchen knives, make sure to use just a mild dishwashing soap and make sure to hand dry them. By allowing the blade to drip dry, you can degrade the condition of your kitchen knife’s handle. When you allow your knife to drip dry, you can also cause your knife’s blade to become stained.

Another tip that’ll help you preserve the quality of your knives, is to be very careful when dealing with knives that have wooden handles. Never soak knives that have wooden handles, for any extended period of time. The water will cause the handle to swell and in the process destroy your knife. Instead hand wash them and rub mineral oil on the handle to preserve its shining finish.

If you use these tips properly, your kitchen knives might even outlast you.

Tips About Kitchen Knives – Quality Vs Costs

Robert Knechtel asked:

The most expensive knife isn’t necessarily the best. If you don’t keep your knives in good condition, they won’t be easy to cook with, no matter how costly they were. It’s vital to have the right knives and be able to make sure they’re in good shape, if you want to have an efficient kitchen and avoid accidents.

Get a Chef’s Knife

Make sure that you have a quality chef’s knife – the one blade every cook should have. This is a large handled knife with a blade that starts out wide near the base. It then tapers to a point. This is the knife you’ll use for the majority of your cutting in the kitchen. Since chef’s knives are so versatile, a full knife set isn’t really worth the cost. Investing in a single, high quality chef’s knife and keeping it very sharp will serve you better in the long run.

Remember that not every chef’s knife is the same. These blades come in many different sizes, and are measured by the length of the blade. Don’t get one that’s too small – the smallest knife you should buy for all purpose use is around eight inches long, not including the handle. Small knives may seem safer or easier to use, but that’s not always true. Large knives can be used to cut small things, but the reverse doesn’t work.

The variety of knives can be bewildering, since even an eight inch chef’s knife comes in examples between fifteen and a hundred and fifty dollars. Look for a knife that’s around twenty-five dollars if you’re on a budget, but more money can get you a more attractive knife. A significant overhang below the handle will help you keep it sharp.

Keep Your Knives Sharp!

You might have heard that a costly knife will hold it’s edge longer. That’s not really true. Good steel does keep an edge better than the cheapest metal, but cutting any sturdy root vegetable will cause the edge to go out of true. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a mediocre knife or one that’s top of the line. To help fix this, use a steel to straighten the edge on a daily basis. Steels are the long sticks you’ve probably seen with knife sets, and are traditionally made from steel. However, many are not ceramic or diamond. Using a steel is just a matter of swiping it down the side of the knife at a twenty degree angle, but this takes some experience. For those who aren’t comfortable with this process, there are also a few easier options.

However you choose to keep your knives sharp, wash and dry them before and after you sharpen. Once you get used to having your knives sharp, it’ll be easy to tell when the edge is going. Cutting will be a lot harder, especially on tough things. Want to test it? Slide the knife along the skin of a tomato or a peach, but don’t press down. Sharp knives will cut in right away.

Proper Sharpening

A knife and tool sharpener, which has a built in angle, will help you straighten a knife without a lot of skill. Hold the knife with the edge up, and the tip hanging off the counter’s edge. Swipe your sharpener over the edge a few times, and the blade will be a lot sharper. Remember that this kind of sharpener slowly eats away at the blade, and will shorten its life. However, a sharp knife for a shorter time is better than one that is always dull. This is worth keeping in mind if you’re unable to have your knives sharpened professionally and aren’t comfortable with a steel.

A knife should always be treated carefully if you want to preserve its edge. Never use cutting boards of glass, granite, or other hard materials. Wood and plastic are better. The edge should be preserved from damage by immediate washing and drying after use. Store your knife somewhere out of the way of other dishes, so it’ll stay in good shape.

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