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Kitchen knife maintenance

May 25, 2018

Kitchen knife maintenance

An average kitchen knife we can find in our kitchens is usually a cheaper knife bought in a supermarket. The brand is unknown and the quality and type of steel is marked as "stainless". Thanks to TV shopping serrated blade knives or knives which cut iron poles, bricks, flying tomatoes etc. have become very popular. After a longer use blades of these knives become worn. The wear depends on the quality of the material, the use and the maintenance or sharpening of knives. The following paragraphs describe the correct use and maintenance of any kitchen knife, in order to extend its life span and the sharpness of its blade.    


Regular blade straightening

A honing rod, similar to butcher’s steel, is used. The use is very simple. The honing steel does not hone, it just straightens the tip with microscopic realigning and removal of deformations on the blade. Imagine a nice, flat piece of paper. If you pass your finger over the edge of it you can cut yourself. When you crease it, the edge (although as thin and sharp as before) is not flat anymore and you cannot get cut. A honing steel straightens the edge of the kitchen knife blade and makes the blade sharp again. Blade straightening takes exactly 10 seconds of time. The more frequently knives are straightened the better it is. Once the honing steel does not function anymore, it is time to sharpen the knife. A kitchen knife blade remains sharp ten times longer if the honing steel is used regularly. It is only necessary to be careful in the choice and purchase of the honing steel. Coarse cut honing rod, or that added to cheap kitchen sets, is useless. I recommend a fine cut honing rod for European kitchen knives made of softer steel, and diamond coated or ceramic rod for better knives made of harder steel. For home use, I recommend above all a cheaper, fine cut, ceramic honing rod.     


Use of the cutting board

Never cut on a marble countertop, glass plate, ceramic baking tray, steel tray and other similar surfaces which were not designed for cutting. Use professional synthetic or wood cutting boards, of which the most knife-friendly are those with the growth rings turned upwards, similar to a cut tree stump. Some advice for the use of the cutting board: you need at least two cutting boards - one for raw meat and fish, and the other for vegetables and fruit.


Gentle use

A sharp knife cuts better, thus you will not need much force for using it or cutting with it. For certain ingredients the weight of the blade is almost enough, others require some minimum pressure. Using less force in cutting we damage the ingredients less, we are more precise and it is more difficult to get cut. When the knife cuts off a piece of an ingredient it strikes the cutting board. These strikes influence the sharpness of the blade.



When we cut vegetables on a cutting board, we usually scrape the pieces off the board and into the pot using the blade of the kitchen knife. A few microns thick, the edge of the blade is designed so that it resists vertical pressure relatively well. In the case of scraping the force is applied transversely on the board, which is extremely damaging for the blade. If you want to scrape the vegetables off the board and into the pot turn the blade around and use the knife spine!


Regular sharpening

This is valid especially for those who are able to sharpen knives themselves. Regular sharpening is a lot easier, faster and it results in removal of much less material. After several years of use the knife which has been regularly sharpened will have a less worn blade than a knife which has been sharpened only occasionaly.





Use of the correct “type” of the knife

The sensitive blade of a Japanese knife has not been designed for cutting bones, opening coconuts and we do not use it instead of an opener, screwdriver, hammer, etc.


Cleaning the knife

If your knives are made of stainless steel, regular cleaning is essential. Leaving a dirty, wet knife in the sink for a longer period of time is harmful for its blade. This is especially true for better knives, which have been marked as stainless. They are not completely stainless, they are only corrosion-resistant to a certain level. Spending a night in the sink can have sad results. Do not use a dishwasher for washing kitchen knives. Hot water, hot air, aggressive detergents and beating against other dishes are harmful for any kitchen knife. I suggest to occasionally clean the knife with a cloth during its use; working with a clean knife is easier and safer, and after its use we can only rinse it under warm water, and if necessary gently rub it with a sponge and dishwashing detergent. After washing our kitchen knife we dry it with a clean cloth and before storing it we leave it on the kitchen counter for some time so as to let it dry completely. If the kitchen knife is made of steel with low or no chromium (Cr) content we can grease it with acid free oil (e.g. sunflower oil) before storing it.


Correct storage of kitchen knives


Kitchen knives are not supposed to be stored in drawers together with wooden spoons, ladles and other kitchen utensils. Moving around and rubbing against other utensils inside the drawer the delicate blades get damaged, and it is also dangerous for you, since you can get cut while looking for tools. We suggest wooden magnetic knife holders, which enable the storage of kitchen knives in a safe and handy place.


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