Most chefs know that a sharp knife is a safe knife. That’s because a sharp knife requires significantly less pressure to be applied for it to do its job. Dull knives require more, making them more likely to slip and cause injury. Most chefs also know that a sharp knife is also an efficient knife that will help you improve your cooking and make your job in the kitchen a lot easier. Cutting jobs simply go much faster with sharper knives. Sharp commercial cutlery will also enable you to create more uniform cuts, which will aid in more even cooking and improve the taste of your dishes.
Honing vs. Sharpening
If you have a higher quality set of knives, you may have honing steel. That’s the long, abrasive steel rod with a handle that you see TV chefs running their knives across. The honing steel is a tool made to maintain the edge of blade, to keep it smooth and straight. It isn’t for sharpening and shouldn’t be used as a substitute for sharpening. Use it once every few cutting jobs to maintain the quality of the cutting edge.
Sharpening Your Kitchen Knives
If used with regularity, you should sharpen your blades about every 60 days, especially the most used ones like your chef’s knife. The best way to sharpen your knives is with a whetstone. There are other methods, especially sharpening machines, but they tend to grind away too much of the blades surface, which will greatly reduce the knives useful lifespan.
Five Steps to a Sharp Knife
A good set of well-maintained knives should last you a long time. Here are the five steps to caring for your blades.
- Lay the whetstone on a cutting board or non-slip counter top with the coarse side facing up
- Grasp the handle in one hand and hold the edge of the blade to the surface of the stone with the other at about a 22 ½ degree angle
- With medium pressure slide the blade forward and across the stone. Left to right or right to left will depend on whether you are right- or left-handed. Maintain both pressure and angle as you run the entire length of the blade across the stone. Do this 10 times on each side of the blade
- Flip the stone over so that the fine side is facing up and apply 10 similar strokes to each side of the blade
- Finally, apply five to eight strokes per side with a honing steel. Be sure to maintain the same 22 ½ degree angle used for sharpening
Rinse the blade under water and carefully (it’s sharp) dry with a soft cloth or towel. Your knives are now as sharp, or sharper, than when you first bought them.