A kitchen would not be complete without a trusty knife. Or even better, a knife set. Each knife in a set has its purpose. These knives would probably mean just one thing for the novice in the kitchen: it is used to cut things. And it wouldn’t matter to them which knife cuts what, as long as it does its job.
However, for those more knowledgeable about the kitchen, every knife was designed for a particular purpose. For them, the reason why a paring knife has a shorter blade, a meat cleaver has a wide surface, or why cheese knives are curved that way is very apparent.
Regardless of which knife you have or how many you have, one thing is essential to maintain your knives — you need to know how to properly care for them.
First off, storage. Knives are essential to food preparation, but they are also very dangerous. And because they are dangerous, you can’t just casually toss them in a drawer along with your other utensils. You run the risk of reaching in that drawer and slicing your hand open. So the best thing is to find a proper place to store them.
If you’re the type to want to keep your knives in a drawer for various reasons, to keep little hands away from sharp objects, for example, then having a knife drawer is a good idea as long as each of your knives has an edge guard and that drawer is strictly for knives only.
Another way to store knives, which is the more popular option by far, is to use a knife block. These are usually wooden blocks with slots cut into them to fit different types of knives.
You can store your knives on a magnetic knife strip if you have limited counter space. You can mount these strips on your kitchen wall above your food preparation and just stick your knives on them for storage.
Honing is a way of keeping a knife’s edge straight and sharp. It is part of the general maintenance of knives. You need to sharpen serrated edges and straight edges equally. There are different honing steel and equipment, like the LeBeau Honer, that can hone both sides of the blade simultaneously. If you prefer the single rod honing steel, you can get those in any store that sells kitchen equipment.
When honing, the important thing to keep in mind is to do both sides of the blade, start at the heel, and position the knife at a 22-degree angle. It goes for both sides of the knife. It will ensure a straight and sharp edge to your knives. Hone your knife every two or three uses to keep the edge sharper for longer.
Remember, a sharp knife is safer than a dull one. Dull knives can slide across a surface and cut things they were not meant to cut (like an innocent finger).
While honing is supposed to be done after two or three uses, sharpening is done once or twice a year. If you have a spendy knife set and don’t want to mess around and possibly damage the blade, you can get your knives sharpened professionally.
However, if you are comfortable doing your sharpening, you can use a knife sharpener. These usually have two slots: the coarse slot and the fine slot and a handle to hold the sharpener down. You use the coarse slot first. And don’t forget to wipe your blade after sharpening.
Always keep your knife clean. Use warm, soapy water and hand wash them, mindful of the sharp edge. You can use a soft sponge as well. Do not, however, use abrasive sponges as these can damage your knives. Do not chuck your knives into the dishwasher either. It might damage the steel.
When drying, make sure that knives are dried thoroughly. A soft drying cloth or even a paper towel will do the trick. A wet knife could lead to rust or stains on the surface.
To prolong the life of your knives, they need proper care and maintenance. You need to store them safely and properly to prevent accidents, hone the blades regularly to keep them sharp, and sharpen them when they get too dull. And you need to wash them after every use and thoroughly dry them.