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How to care (sharpen, wash, store, etc..) kitchen knives

How to care (sharpen, wash, store, etc..) kitchen knives

Kitchen knives — are professional tools that remain sharp and reliable only with proper care and storage. Both the professional chef and the amateur must know how to use and sharpen the knife, how to clean it and treat it to prolong its service life.

Here you will find basic rules for using and caring for the most important kitchen tool.

Knife care bullet points

Care after use

To prevent damage to the blade and keep it in perfect condition, rinse the knife with cool tap water immediately after cutting the food. Or for a more thorough cleaning - wash it in warm water using a sponge with a detergent.

After removing the residue, use a towel or a tissue to get rid of moisture from the blade. You can then place the tool in a stand or on a magnetic holder.

We recommend following these rules when cleaning the knife after slicing food:

  • Do not use hot water. High temperatures have a negative effect on sharpness, you will have to sharpen your knives more often than usual. In addition, hot water can be bad for the handle.
  • Do not put the knife in the sink with other kitchenware. Food residue on the blade may start a reaction with the metal, changing its structure. If the knife is made of a high carbon alloy, it may leave dark stains on the surface.
  • Do not use the dishwasher. The water in it gets very hot and the detergents are too aggressive. This has a negative effect on both the blade and the handle. The tool may also become dull due to contact with dishes and other cutlery.

Never neglect drying. If you leave water drops on the steel, the chlorine in the water can also start a reaction with the steel. As a result, your blade will look worse. It will get the so-called pitting corrosion, which can happen even with stainless steel.

It will be difficult to remove stains and restore the knife to its original appearance. You will have to polish it with a mild abrasive compound.

Do not use salt, lemon juice or grated onion to remove stains. The substances in these products are aggressive and may also start a reaction with the blade steel. This will only make things worse.

Storage rules

If you are a chef or a home cook and you use high-quality knives made of expensive steel in your kitchen, you should pay attention to their storage. The main rule is that there should be no contact with other utensils or metal objects. It is best to provide a separate storage shelf, vertical or magnetic holder for cutting tools.

If you store knives in drawers, provide a separate compartment for each knife. This is also necessary to prevent injury. While working, a chef can cut themselves trying to pull a product with a sharp blade from a pile of other kitchen accessories.

When choosing a storage, pay attention to models that do not block the air access to the blade and handle.

In the household, it is important to respect safety rules concerning other family members. If you have children in the kitchen, you must ensure that they do not have access to the knives. It is best to store the knives far from the edge of the work surface, suspended above the table or mounted on the wall.

Many knife lovers buy expensive collectible and specialised knives that they use very rarely. Such models should be "preserved" for long-term storage. To avoid corrosion of the blade, the metal should be thoroughly cleaned and dried, then covered with mineral oil. Then the tool should be wrapped in parchment and placed in a cupboard with constant air humidity level and temperature.

How to use knives

Manufacturers offer different tools for specific tasks in the professional or home kitchen. Chefs must use them exclusively for their intended purpose. For example, a fillet knife is not suitable for cutting fruits and vice versa.

There are universal models. But they are actually designed for chopping, peeling or carving. Do not use cutting tools for ice picking, opening cans or cutting bones. This way you will never have to think about how to sharpen a dull blade again.

To maintain the cutting edge condition and sharpness, remember the following rules:

  • Do not scrape or scratch the surfaces of cutting boards, worktops, pans and bowls with the tool;
  • Do not cut frozen food before defrosting;
  • Do not cut or chop bones with tools not designed for this purpose.

Only special kitchen boards should be used for slicing. If you use a kitchen knife on a plate, on a bowl, on a granite worktop, it will dull more quickly and the edge will be damaged.

wooden cutting board

Knife handle care

Tools with rubber or polymer handles do not require special operating instructions. Food juices and water do not affect plastic and rubber. However, if a chef uses a knife with a wooden handle in the kitchen, they should take special care of the wood.

Expensive blades are usually equipped with handles made of stabilised wood. The natural material is soaked in special resins that reduce its porosity, provide hydrophobic properties and protect it from temperature influences.

Despite this, manufacturers recommend treating the handles with special compounds. This procedure solves several problems:

  • prevention of wood decay due to microorganisms;
  • prevention of deformation due to water getting inside, protection against mold;
  • maintaining a beautiful appearance and gloss.

Cooks use linseed oil for impregnation. It penetrates well into the pores of the wood and fills them, reducing the absorption capacity of the surface. Any other oil used in the kitchen will do fine as well. Do not use chemical protective compounds, which can get into food and dishes during cooking.

To prolong the service life of a knife with a wooden handle, the experts recommend to follow these rules:

  • Do not wash the knife in the dishwasher. Chemical compounds and high temperatures will damage the wood, causing it to swell and crack.
  • Do not keep the knife under water. A soaked wooden handle will lose its appearance. It is best to use a dry cleaning method to remove any heavy soiling.
  • Do not leave the knife in the sun. The UV light has a negative effect on the wood and will reduce its service life.

Avoid food contact with the handle when using the knife for cooking in the kitchen.

Kitchen knives sharpening

No matter how good and expensive a knife is, sooner or later you will have to think about how to make it sharp. The advertised self-sharpening tools are nothing more than a trick to attract customers.

How to sharpen a knife:

  • You can use a musat for honing your blade everyday and keeping it sharp. Musat is an abrasive rod with a handle, which will repair minor damage to the edge. But it will not cope with a completely dull knife.
  • You can sharpen knives with a special abrasive sharpening whetstone. Tools with high-carbon steel blades can be sharpened with a Japanese water sharpening whetstone. You will have to use several bars with different grit, ranging from extra coarse to the finest. You can sharpen ceramic knives with a diamond-coated abrasive whetstone.
  • When sharpening, it is extremely important to keep the correct blade angle provided by the manufacturer. To do this, you need to keep the knife in the correct position with your hands or use special mechanical devices.

If the blade has lost its shape, or the edge is damaged, it would be best to contact a master who knows how to sharpen it using electric tools with abrasive and polishing wheels or a manual sharpener.

paint marker for finding the sharpening angle

Conclusion

The rules and ways described above are quite simple. If you follow them while cooking at home or in a professional chef kitchen, you can be sure that your knife will retain its appearance and sharpness for a longer period of time. And if you know how to sharpen a blade, you will be able to quickly restore its sharpness and shape without going to a professional for sharpening.

 

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