Knives are an important part of every kitchen. They come in handy from chopping vegetables, slicing fish and dicing meat.
Most people take them from granted, at least I did until they became dull. Then I realized how important they are.
A sharp knife is a joy to use, the delight of every chef.
On the contrary, a dull knife is a cutting nightmare – an accident waiting to happen. Yeah, you read that right, an accident waiting to happen.
Not all knives are created equally. There is no one-size-fits-all scenario. Using the right knife for the right job decreases how often you sharpen them.
To avoid this frustration which I once had, I’ll be sharing with you 5 ways to help you in sharpening your kitchen knives.
Contrary to popular belief, sharp knives are safer than dull ones.
Using a dull knife requires you to put in much more effort, applying much more pressure and when cutting at odd angles you risk losing your grip. The knife could fall from your hand, hitting you or someone else.
And all that because you wouldn’t bother spending a few minutes sharpening.
Did you know that sharp knives can even help your food taste better, I bet you didn’t? So here’s how it happens, sharp blades cut (not tear like dull ones) through the food evenly and gently, retaining all their juices.
Food cooks evenly, getting ready at the same rate when being cut to the same size. So your food not only looks good but also tastes good.
Another bonus when using a sharp knife is when cutting onions – fewer tears.
Advice for Sharpening Kitchen Knives
How To Tell Your Knife Needs Sharpening
First, though, you have to be able to tell when your knife needs sharpening.
There’s one way, it’s called the paper test. Basically, you cut through your normal paper, say your normal printer paper, with the knife, if it cuts easily, your knife is sharp enough.
If it doesn’t cut it or even tears it apart, it should have been sharpened ages ago.
There are many ways to go about this, we’ll see them below.
1. Sharpening Rod Method
Sometimes they are included with knife packs. it’s a 20-inch long metal rod (sometimes tapered) with a handle. It works as a file; therefore it can be used to hone your knife.
Now, don’t use this when the blade is totally blunt, but if you want your knife to become cutting edge (pun intended), use it.
It is also used as a sort of finisher after using other sharpening methods. Some chefs use it every day, in-between cuts, especially when preparing to cut carve large meat chunks.
Hold the rod in one hand and the knife in the other, pull the whole length of the knife edge across the steel and also do the same for the other side of the sharp end.
Do this for a while until you get the desired sharpness.
2. Sharpening Stone
This is perhaps the most trusted of all methods for sharpening kitchen knives.
It’s a very old method. When a blade is significantly dull, then it’s time to call in the stones.
It does take some time though, however it can give a new lease of life even to the dullest of blades.
When in the hands of a professional, you’ll have at the end of the day a knife that would be delightful to use. Unlike a sharpening rod, which can be used every day, you don’t need to use it so often.
Using a sharpening stone (a.k.a whetstone) is not difficult.
They come in several levels of coarseness, with the lower numbers meaning lower coarseness. So basically a 1000 grit whetstone, will be coarser than a 600 grit whetstone.
To use it, first soak it in water for about 15 minutes, this is just to reduce its friction. Hold your knife at about a 20-degree angle against the stone.
Hold it at the base with your dominant hand, placing the fingers of your other hand on the flat side of the knife. Now sweep the knife across the stone, from base to tip, also flip the knife and do it for the other side. Do this continuously until the knife is sharp.
3. Ceramic Plate Method
In the absence of either a rod or a whetstone, there’s a very cheap method that could improve the sharpness of your knife.
All you need to do is turn the back on the plate, with the bottom facing up, then use that part to sharpen your knife.
Now, this should be used when you don’t have other sharpening tools as it takes longer and is not as effective as a whetstone.
Sharpening does take some effort, and you don’t want to all this precious time and energy wasted just because you didn’t store the knives correctly. How you store them effects how sharp they stay overtime.
The best way to store your knives either a magnetic knife strip or a knife block.
Storing them with your forks and spoons or just tossing them on the counter top will dull them over time.
5. Proper Care
Don’t wash your knife in the dishwater. The detergents are really harsh on metal and will make your knife dull over time. They can also remove the coating which makes the knives rust resistant.
Instead, you should wash your knife with dish liquid, and then dry it completely before storing it.
Always use a cutting board. The marble or ceramic counter top is hard, it will not only dull your knife quickly but may nick the edge.
Wooden or plastic cutting boards will help your knives stay sharper for longer.
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Sharpening kitchen knives is not that difficult, although this is a skill that needs to be practiced over time before it becomes second nature.
Practice makes perfect.
Which of these tips you didn’t know? I haven’t number 4 for some time (we all make mistakes, right?).