How to maintain your kitchen knives in optimal working condition
Keeping your knives properly sharpened is essential to perform safely and efficiently in the kitchen. Contrary to what it seems, a sharp knife is safer to use and easier to control than a dull blade. This one will force you to apply more pressure, making it more likely to slide off food and cause injury.
A sharp knife will also help you achieve optimal cooking results. Research shows that cutting with a dull knife damages food on a cellular level, altering the original flavors and appearance of fresh ingredients. It´s for that reason that the quality of the cut is becoming so important in professional cooking.
Blades dull with time and use and will, eventually, need sharpening. However, you can control how fast this happens. Follow these simple maintenance guidelines and you´ll be able to tell the difference.
Pay attention to cutting boards. The choice of cutting surfaces on which you slice and chop food can dramatically improve your knife’s ability to stay sharp. The harder the surface, the faster the knife will go dull. Opt for wooden or plastic cutting boards and stay away from hard surfaces such as glass, marble or ceramic boards, metal pans, countertops, china etc… They will make even those of the highest quality go dull quickly.
Do not use your kitchen knives for other than their intended purpose. Avoid using the edge of the knife to scrape food from the cutting board, turn the knife over and use the back edge instead. Do not use them to open packaging, cut ropes and such, either. This is the best way to ruin them.
Store them properly. Use a wooden knife block or install a magnetic knife holder on your kitchen wall. Avoid kitchen drawers where the blades can hit against other kitchen utensils. If drawers had to be used, protect the edge of your knife with a plastic knife sleeve.
Learn how to use a whetstone to sharpen your knives at home. Although there are many sharpening devices available, this is the best way to sharpen a knife, as most of them tend to grind away too much of the knife’s blade. It will take some practice, but once you develop the skill you will be able to keep your knives in shape, save time and money.
Have a sharpening steel on hand to maintain the sharp edge. Use it when it starts to wears down. Don´t wait until it’s dull; it will take more time and effort.