Caring for Your Kitchen Knives the Right Way
When you invest in a new knife set for your kitchen, it is essential to know the right way to take care of them. Properly caring for your knives will ensure a lifetime of use. It is incredibly easy to damage a high-quality blade by not caring for it correctly. Once you know the right way to take care of your knife set, it will become second nature. There are several important factors to take into consideration when it comes to caring for your knives. Today, we'll share some of the tips we have learned over the years to make sure your blade stays sharp and in good shape.
Knife Steel – Not all Kitchen Knives are the Same
Most kitchen knives use some type of stainless steel, which is a beautiful material that doesn't stain easily, but also doesn't hold an edge indefinitely. Stainless steel needs to be adequately cared for. Even though it resists staining and rust, a damaged stainless steel knife can corrode, which looks unsightly and negatively impacts the performance of the blade.
You may have a few carbon steel knives in your kitchen, also. These blades are easy to spot – they're typically dark-colored and rust quickly. The advantage of carbon steel blades over stainless is that a carbon steel blade will take a sharp edge, and keep an edge. However, the knife must be cleaned correctly each time it is used. Carbon steel blades are common on Chinese-style chopping knives and in the hunting knife arena.
Our personal favorite boning knife of all time (the Victorinox Swiss Army 6” Boning Knife) is a blend of high-carbon and stainless steel that takes a beautiful edge, stays sharp, and cleans up in seconds. If you are looking to upgrade your kitchen knife set, pick up one of these impressive knives – you'll fall in love with it the way we did.
How to Wash Your Kitchen Knives
Never, ever put your knife set in the dishwasher. Dishwashers can bang your knives around, causing nicks in the blades. Thin, flexible knives can bend, while carbon steel knives might even break.
The proper way to wash your knives is by hand with warm, soapy water. This applies to carbon steel or stainless steel blades. Wash thoroughly, then rinse and dry your knife. It's better to avoid leaving a knife to drip-dry. Even a stainless steel kitchen knife can get hard water stains, and a carbon steel knife will look like you found it on the bottom of the ocean in no time if you neglect to dry it off.
After you have washed and dried a carbon steel knife, it’s good practice to wipe it down with a light oil, like Grapeseed Oil. The oil prevents moisture in the air from corroding the blade.
Storing Your Kitchen Knives
Most people have a drawer for their kitchen knives, and unfortunately, often dump the knives in the drawer and walk away. You want to make sure your knives are lying flat in a drawer and not touching. The blades can easily chip and dull from banging against one another in a kitchen drawer.
A better solution is a knife block. The best knife blocks have the knives positioned horizontal or with the edge facing up. This prevents the cutting edge from dulling on the wood or plastic block. Most cheap knife blocks have slots putting the cutting edge down, which is a terrible way to store a kitchen knife. If possible, flip the knives over in the block so that the sharp edge faces up and doesn't rest against the block.
An even better solution is a magnetic knife holder. A magnetic holder prevents the blades of the knife from contacting and prevents rattling and vibration that cause chips and cracks in knife blades. A magnetic knife strip is an affordable and easy to install accessory for your kitchen that also looks cool. It’s a great way to show off your favorite kitchen knives and keeps them close at hand. There is nothing more frustrating than having to stop in the middle of preparing a meal to dig around in a drawer for your favorite knife. A magnetic knife holder is also a sanitary way to store and use knives in your kitchen.
A magnetic knife holder is also a great item to include in your workshop space. They do a great job of holding knives and other tools, keeping things you need readily at hand and out of the way.
Bonus Tip: Storing Hunting Knives
The best thing you can do for your hunting knife is to keep it stowed away safely. A leather or synthetic sheath will prevent nicks and chips, and also makes carrying your knife much safer. It is crucial to clean and thoroughly dry your hunting knife before putting it into a sheath. Many hunting knives, even ones made from stainless steel will quickly corrode when they are put into a leather sheath while wet.
We love the leather sheath for our Victorinox Boning Knife. It is the perfect way to keep the blade safe, secure, and protected, plus it looks great.
Honing and Sharpening – Why You Should Do Both
A honing steel is a rod with etched lines running the length of the tool. You use a honing steel to keep a sharp edge and prevent twists and bends in the blade. A honing steel will hold an edge on a knife but is not the right tool for sharpening a dull knife.
Using a Honing Steel
The right way to use a honing steel is to hold the handle in your non-dominant hand with the tip resting against a counter, table, or some other stable object. You will then draw the blade toward you at the appropriate angle for your knife. If you use a honing steel each time you use your kitchen knife, your blade will stay nice and sharp for a long time. Proper use of a honing steel can cut sharpening down to once or twice a year, which means your knife will last longer.
There are numerous products out there today for sharpening knives, some of them good, others terrible. It can be a challenge to find a good-quality knife sharpener. But learning to sharpen a knife correctly will make it easy to find the right type of sharpening device for you.
Whetstones and Handheld Sharpeners
The main types of sharpeners are whetstone and ceramic handheld sharpeners. You have seen the ceramic sharpeners all over; they are the V-shaped sharpeners you hold in one hand while drawing the blade through the base of the V. If you use a ceramic sharpener correctly, you can quickly get a good, sharp edge on even a very dull knife. These devices are intended to make sharpening an easy task by removing the complicated learning curve of a whetstone.
Whetstones are made from high silica-content stone. In the past, whetstones were naturally-occurring rocks, but modern technology has made synthetic whetstones inexpensive. Which has mostly ended the mining of whetstones around the world. The stones are usually rectangular and may even come in a wooden box. Many whetstones include both a coarse and fine side to allow users to get the perfect level of sharpness.
Using a whetstone correctly is a difficult skill to master. Incorrect use of a sharpener will cause your knife to become dull, brittle, and you can even break the edge or tip. When you use a whetstone, the goal is to keep the blade at the correct angle for the edge and draw the blade across the stone.
Trivia Tip: The Old English word “whet” means “to sharpen.” An often misquoted saying, to whet one's appetite, literally means to sharpen your appetite, not get it wet.
Types of Whetstones
Whetstones are sold by grit grade, ranging from extremely coarse to extremely fine. There are two types of whetstones, oil stones, and water stones. When sharpening a knife, lubrication is either water or oil. It is essential to know what kind of whetstone you have, as using the incorrect lubricant reduces the ability of the stone to sharpen your blade.
Another type of manufactured whetstone is called a diamond stone. Diamond stones are made from metal, commonly attached to a plastic base. The surface of the metal is coated with extremely fine diamond dust. A diamond stone can produce a very fine edge when used correctly.
Caring for your kitchen knives (and hunting knives) is an easy task when you do it correctly and often. It would be best if you always used a honing steel before you start cooking. It's also a good idea to make a couple of quick passes of the blade across the honing steel while you prepare your meal.
The most important thing you can do to take care of your knives is to clean and store them properly. Most of the damage done to knives is because of improper storage. You should always do your best to keep your knife set sharp at all times. A dull knife is more likely to slip and requires more force to use. These factors can combine to result in severe danger and injury.
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