How to maintain the razor-like sharpness of your kitchen knives
It is simpler than you would think to keep your kitchen knives sharp and in good condition so that you can prepare food more quickly and safely.
Congratulations on your recent purchase of a beautiful new knife for the kitchen! You have taken the first step toward simplifying the process of cooking and making it more pleasurable.
Having a good knife will make it much easier for you to cut and mince food. However, this should not be the end of the process; a quality knife requires regular maintenance, including sharpening and honing.
You will need to use more pressure to make cuts with fresh knives since after a few weeks of usage they will grow dull and lose their sharpness. This additional resistance not only mutilates the meats and vegetables you are chopping, but it also poses a risk to your fingertips.
With the help of this guide on sharpening and honing cutlery, you can keep your blades feeling like new and prevent injury to your fingers.
As a disclaimer, I will state the obvious and say that knives may cause serious injury. Handle your blades with care at all times, even if you have no intention of maintaining or repairing them yourself.
Even the most delicate of paring knives are capable of inflicting serious wounds in a split second. When working with sharp instruments, you should always use utmost care and pay attention to what you are doing, both for your own safety and for the sake of others around you. In addition, I’ll be concentrating on steel knives, since ceramic blades often need to be serviced by a specialist.
Honing versus sharpening: Know the difference
There is a distinction between these two words, despite the fact that they are often used interchangeably. The current edge of a blade may be straightened by a process known as “honing.” The cutting edge of a knife will, over the course of time and through normal usage, gradually round out or bend out of its starting position. This is a natural occurrence.
When you sharpen a knife, you are gently realigning the pointed surface so that it is in the correct place. It’s a simple remedy, but doing it often may prevent more significant damage to the blade from occurring.
A honing steel is the tool that is used the vast majority of the time while honing a knife. These very affordable tools range in price from ten to thirty dollars and are just steel rods with a handle.
The surface of the rod is rough; thus, nudging (honing) its edge back into place may be accomplished by rubbing a blade over the rod (at the appropriate angle), on both sides.
The blade of a knife is given a new edge by a process that involves forcefully cleaning the blade. You will only need to do this with blades that are really dull. In the course of the procedure, shavings of metal are really removed.
Because of this, sharpening a metal blade requires a substance that is even harder than steel, namely stone or ceramic. This is another reason why you should sharpen your tools seldom but hone them often.
Sharpen your blade
Honing kitchen blades often involves using a tool called an honing steel, which is used by a significant number of professional chefs and cooks. However, being proficient in the use of steel takes practice, so you shouldn’t get disheartened if your first results aren’t immediately apparent. The following is a guide for honing your knife:
To begin, position the end of the rod made of steel so that it is level on the surface (table, counter, cutting board).
The next step is to lay the heel edge of your knife onto the steel while simultaneously retaining the grip of the steel with the hand that is not holding the knife.
It is important to ensure that the angle of the blade, in reference to the steel rod, is between 15 and 20 degrees. Additionally, be sure that your fingers (which are gripping the knife) are securely resting on the knife grip (behind the heel).
Now, move the blade along the steel in a downward motion. At the same time, move the knife slowly toward you while being cautious. The movement should go from the rear edge of the knife to the tip of the blade.
Hold the same angle for the whole of your stroke. It is recommended that you carry out this activity three to four times. After that, repeat steps 1 and 2 on the other side of the knife.
Hone the knife’s edge
You are going to require a more robust instrument in order to hone the edge of your knife blade. Using a whetstone is how things were done back in the day. The favorable news is that whetstones are available at prices that are not prohibitive. The price range for them is between $15 and $20.
To get started, lay a square of wet paper towel on a surface that’s been cleared. Put the whetstone down on it, and it won’t move about as much as it would otherwise. Apply a little amount of water to the edge of the knife blade.
This reduces the amount of friction. Now, set the blade of the knife, which has the coarsest side, on the stone at an angle of 15 to 20 degrees. It should be positioned such that the blade points away from you.
Put the tips of your fingers down on the blade’s flat (except your thumb). Your thumb stays on the handle grip the whole time.
A circular motion should be performed on the whetstone using the knife, taking care to maintain the same angle throughout. Repeat this between three and four times. The process is repeated after you turn the knife over.
Next, repeat the process, but this time on the side of the whetstone that is more polished. The edge of the dull kitchen knife you were using should seem much sharper now.
Sharpeners powered by electricity
You may also use a sharpener that is powered electrically. The procedure is much the same, but with the extra advantage of being quicker.
These goods have slots that may be used for honing and sharpening, rather than a whetstone. It is also possible to achieve the same result by sliding a knife down the slots.
Grinding wheels are spring-loaded and revolve freely within the slots they are contained in. This indicates that the edge of the knife should be polished at the appropriate angle automatically.
Make sure that the directions that are outlined in the manual are followed to the letter. When not used properly, electric sharpeners may cause damage to the edges of blades. When pulling knives through the sharpening slot, common errors include twisting the blades, pushing down on them, or interrupting the stroke in the middle of the motion.
Over-sharpening, which results in the loss of too much metal, or an uneven edge, may be the outcome of this.
You may expect to spend between $30 and $40 extra for a motorized sharpener, so prepare yourself financially (via Amazon). The same brand name is also used for a series of kitchen knives that this firm offers called EdgeKeeper.
These knives come with sleeves that are supposed to “sharpen” the blades of the knives each time you use them. It is more probable that they are honing their knives than than sharpening them, but either way, it is beneficial.
Even though it seems impossible, we put this theory to the test. Turn a ceramic cup over down so that the bottom is facing upward. It should be placed on a level surface. There should be an unglazed ring that is elevated around the circumference of the object.
The surface of the ring has a rough texture and is more durable than steel. Employ it in the same manner as you would a whetstone. Be mindful, though, that if things don’t go well, you might end up scraping the blade edge and rendering it worthless. Try this out on an inexpensive knife rather than some pricey silverware.
Bring in the experts.
Some people find that sharpening their silverware is an unnecessary effort. Sharpening services are offered by a wide variety of quality knife manufacturers, including Mac (Mac brand only).
It is also within realistic bounds, with rates ranging from $5 to $14 per item. Despite this, you will be required to return the knives to their location. That translates to you having to go without it for at least seven days during normal business hours.
Some local supermarkets and grocery shops provide knife sharpening services, and in many cases, this service is completely free. In most cases, you may inquire at the butcher counter, and it is best to do so at less busy times.
However, just as with any other sharpening procedure you haven’t done before, you should practice on a knife that you could do without first.