Keeping Kitchen Knives Sharp

Tony Grimes asked:

USING A SHARPENING STEEL

With a little practice, anyone can master the art of using the steel to keep your knives sharp.
The sharpening steel is a metal rod that consists of a slightly softer hardness factor than the knife blade. Sharpness is maintained by stroking the blade, at a 10 degree angle, over the rod on a regular basis. It is best to use the same brand of steel as your knives to avoid using the wrong steel.

When a knife is looked at under a microscope, the edge, even the edge of a fine edged knife, is made up of thousands of small teeth. After constant use, these are bent out of line and the blades become less effective for cutting properly. Stroking the knife on a sharpening steel does not put a new edge on a knife; it simply realigns the existing edge, increasing sharpness.
After a lot of use the steel becomes ineffective and some type of hone, or stone, is needed to put a new edge on a knife. After this is done the steel fine tunes the blade.

Easiest Method of Steeling for home using “Cutting Motion” and followed by “Reverse Cutting Motion”

Sharpening with “Cutting Motion”

Hold the sharpening steel in your left hand with the point of the steel firmly placed on a cutting board or table, the steel should now be vertical to the surface.

Hold the knife in your right hand , as if you were going to cut

Place the section of the blade closest to the knife handle against the sharpening steel just under the steel handle.

Angle the knife about 10 degrees from the sharpening rod.

With even pressure pull the knife handle toward you as you travel DOWN the steel, stroke the entire blade edge ending at the tip as you near the bottom of the steel.

Alternate from left to right sides of the steel rod about six times.

Sharpening with “Reverse Cutting Motion”

Put the point of the sharpening steel on a cutting board, or table, surface at a 90-degree angle.

Push the blade flat across the sharpening steel, moving in the opposite direction of normal cutting.

Place tip of knife on steel close to table, with even pressure push blade of knife as you move UP the steel.

Stroke the whole blade to the blade handle, you should end up near handle of steel.

Repeat the process on the other side of the knife-edge.

The sharpening steel should be used every time a knife is used. A professional meat cutter carries a steel at his side and uses it every few minutes to keep his knives sharp.

Use a scouring powder pad to clean and remove metal particles from the steel, do not use steel wool. Use even pressure with the scouring pad fro handle to tip. Rinse with clear water, dry the steel well and store in a dry place.

THE HONE

I recommend using a ceramic hone for home use, electric sharpeners and stones are a little more tricky to use.

Handle the hone with care, unlike a steel, it can break if dropped, or banged against a hard surface.

Any method for creating a new edge also increases wear on a knife,

A ceramic hone creates a new edge on a knife by removing metal from the knife blade.

After honing the knife, use a steel in order to realign the cutting teeth and provide a razor sharp edge.

If a knife is steeled regularly it should not need to be honed too often.

Clean your hone after each use with scouring cleanser and a sponge or cloth….No Soap of any kind!

Rinse with clear water and a wipe dry.

Caring for you knives, steels and hones pays dividends, dull knives cause accidents

Knives should be used only for cutting boneless meat, it should not be used as a chopper, this plays havoc with the edge, requiring frequent honing which reduces the life of the blade.

If you do a lot of chopping, buy a small cleaver.

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What is the Secret to Buying the Best Kitchen Knives

Michael D. Brown asked:

So you want to buy the best kitchen knives and you are wondering what you should get. A trip to your local Walmart leaves you with the choice of a bubble packed, off brand of knife that will not let you feel the edge of the blade to see how sharp it is. Going down the street you stop at your local gourmet shop and look at their selection. Here you are confronted with several different brands and styles of knives most of which have a hefty price tag. They will have slicing knives, Chef knives, boning knives and paring knives some coming in block sets and some individual. It can rapidly become a bewildering experience.

The visit to the gourmet shop will introduce you to the wide world of high quality knives that will last you a life time. Most of the brands available today are of excellent quality. The differences in pricing are usually due to the types of steel and the different processes used. Is the knife stamped out of a sheet or is it individually forged? Has the steel been folded back on itself numerous times to produce a wavy pattern on the sides as you look at it? This is called Damascus style steel. Some of the Japanese style knives will have blunt tips and “Dee” or Octagonal shaped handles. They will have funny names like Santoku, Deba, Guyoto, Usuba or Yanagi.

In the home kitchen you basically need just a few knives. A 6 or 8 inch chef’s style knife will do most of the heavy cutting that you need for soups and stews. For finer jobs like cutting an apple or a tomato you would want a utility knife or a paring knife. If you want to cut meat and do some fish trimming you will want a filet or boning knife. Add in a cerrated bread knife and perhaps some steak knives for barbecue night and you have all the kitchen knives that you really need. On the other hand you could add in a nice fancy slicer for that turkey at Thanksgiving, and a nice diamond coated sharpening steel to sharpen your knife edges. That is just the beginning if you want to build a collection of the best kitchen knives.

Investing in a set of knives for your kitchen is something you should spend some time researching. How does the knife feel in your hand? Is it balanced? How sharp is it and how long does it keep an edge before it needs to be sharpened on a stone? Are you willing to buy a sharpening stone to sharpen them yourself? Will the manufacturer sharpen them for you? Do you want to add in a knife block to keep them safe? These and many other questions are answered on the Cutting Edge at Greatcookingtoday.com

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