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.

A Brief Guide to Buying Kitchen Knives

Deevan Aw asked:

When you are looking for a great kitchen knife set, you want to take into consideration cost, the material of the knives, the types of knives that come with the set, and the maintenance of the knives.

Cost is something that cannot be helped, in other words, your budget is your budget. However, keep in mind that a high quality knife set will last longer, maybe a decade, while a less expensive knife set will need replacement after maybe two years. A set will cost between fifty US dollars, and up to a thousand dollars or more for a top of the line set.

kitchen knives are generally made of one of the four following materials: stainless steel, carbon steel, laminated (combination of carbon steel and stainless steel), and ceramic.

The carbon steel knife is 99% iron, and 1% carbon. These knives are prone to rusting, though, and are higher maintenance than stainless steel knives. They are generally sharper though, than stainless steel, though also more brittle. Famous top manufacturers of carbon steel kitchen knives are Sabatier, Kikuichi, and Forshner but these knives are being discontinued and less common. Hardness on the C scale for Carbon Steel knives is between 60 and 62.

Stainless steel contains around 11% chromium, and is very well known as a material used for cutlery manufacturing. Type 420 and 440 stainless steel is used for cutlery, 440 being harder. 440 has a hardness on the C scale of 55. Within 440, there are three grades of steel used in cutlery. Going from more less carbon, and softer, they are A, B, and C.The famous stainless steel manufacturers include Global and Kasumi among the Japanese makers, and European makers like Wusthof.

Laminated knife blades will try to create a balance of the properties of carbon steel, and stainless steep by having a sandwich of the knife materials. Ceramic knives are even sharper than normal knives, but they are more brittle. Kyocera and Yoshi knives are among the ceramic knives available on the market.

Chef’s knife – This is the most important knife in the knife set and will be used for most general kitchen tasks.

Cleaver – This is used to chop and pound food. This is a heavy knife.

Bread knife- This is a special knife that is useful to cut tomatos, and bread without crushing it.

Fillet knife – This is used to fillet fish with a thin and flexible blade.

Paring knife – This is used to cut or peel small fruits and vegetables.

Steak knife – This comes either serrated or straight and is used on the dinner table for serving steak.

Maintaining carbon steel knives is more time consuming than stainless steel. After cleaning carbon steel knives, it is recommended to coat them with some vegetable oil, lightly, to prevent oxidization. Avoid putting professional knives in the dishwashing machine, with a high variability in temperatures and strong detergents, the steel blade and even the handle can get affected.

The sharpness of the blade may decrease if the knife is dropped in the dishwasher.

Once you are done using the knife, clean it immediately so that the quality of the blade is maintained. Once the knife is clean, it should be stored in a knife block made of polyurethane, or wood. Make sure to use a cutting board of the same material to protect the blade.

Knives can be sharpened with a sharpening steel which looks like a circular rod, or a block of stone called a sharpening stone. Modern electric sharpeners are safe to use on quality knives. When using an electric sharpener, make sure not to grind away too much of the knife. You need to sharpen your knives every three to six months.

kitchen knives