Knives are an important part of your kitchen. If you've invested in a good set of knives, you want them to last long. Still, with repeated use, knives get dull. Dull knives tear food instead of cutting it, and are dangerous because of the extra force you have to apply to cut food. It's natural for knives to get blunt, but sometimes this happens because we didn't take particular care of some aspect about them. Here are some tips on the best ways to keep kitchen knives sharp.
Honing Vs Sharpening
Honing and sharpening are often confused with each other. As you use knives repeatedly, the edge of the knife blades begins to curve slightly or bend out of position. This is corrected by honing. Honing is simply the act of realigning the blade of the knife without removing a lot of material from the blade itself.
Sharpening is basically the act of improving the edge of a knife by polishing the knife blade aggressively on a sharpening tool. Sharpening actually removes bits of metal from the blade, and, when done frequently, it can diminish the knife blade. This is why sharpening should be done rarely while honing should be done more frequently.
Hone the Knife
Honing your knife is one of the best ways to keep kitchen knives sharp. A honing rod is a long, metallic rod that looks like a short sword. To use it, hold it in your non-dominant hand and the knife in your dominant hand. Raise the tip of the rod above its handle. Hold the knife at an angle of 15-20 degrees relative to the rod.
From the heel of the knife to its tip, drag the blade across the top of the honing rod while at the same time pulling it towards you. Repeat this 3 or 4 times. Then do perform the same action on the other side of the blade, and repeat it 3 or four times as well. Honing usually seems difficult but with practice, it gets easier.
Sharpen the Knife
Sharpening knives restores a dull edge and smooths out chipped edges that may have formed during use. There are different ways of sharpening knives. They include:
Using a Whetstone
A whetstone is a small block of stone with a fine side and a rough side. To prevent the whetstone from sliding, place a damp cloth on a flat surface, and place the whetstone on top of it. Wet the stone with some water to reduce friction during sharpening. Place the knife on the rough side of the stone at a 15-20 degree angle, with the knife tip pointing away from you.
Next, place your fingers on the flat surface of the blade, with your thumb remaining on the handle of the knife. Now, using a circular motion, drag the knife across the whetstone. Repeat this 3 to 4 times, then turn the knife over and do the same on the other side. Finally, repeat the whole procedure on the smooth side of the whetstone.
The KitchenIQ Natural Arkansas Sharpening Stone 6" is a good example of a modern whetstone. It can be used on single or double-beveled knives. It also features a plastic lead to protect the stone and non-slip rubber feet to prevent slipping.
Electric sharpeners have both honing and sharpening capabilities plus the added advantage of speed. The sharpeners have honing and sharpening slots through which you drag the knife to sharpen it.
A great electric sharpener is the KitchenIQ Ceramic Edge Knife Sharpener. It has two interlocking ceramic wheels that sharpen both sides of the knife blade at the same time. It also removes very little metal and can be used to lightly touch up a knife that is already sharp.
Ceramic Mug or Cup
Although not the best option, if you don't have any knife-sharpening equipment you can improvise with a ceramic mug or cup. Flip one over, and you'll notice it has a raised, rough, unglazed ring round the edge.
This surface is harder than your knife blade and can sharpen it. Simply drag your knife blade across this raised edge at an angle of about 20o repeatedly until you're satisfied with the result.
Cleaning and Storage
Wash Knives by Hand
Throwing your knives into the dishwasher along with the other cutlery is not exactly the best way to keep kitchen knives sharp. The heat, water, and strong detergent in the dishwasher quickly dull the blades. Wash knives by hand instead. This may take more time but your knives will remain sharper for a longer time.
Many people keep their knives in drawers along with other cutlery and kitchen utensils. This is a bad idea, as constantly rubbing against other utensils will eventually dull the knives. Common ways of storing knives safely include a knife block, where each blade is inserted into its designated slot. The Furi Pro Angular Knife Block 6 Pc Set is a great example of a knife block that protects your knives, is easy to clean, and looks great on your countertop.
Another method is the magnetic strip, which can be attached anywhere on the kitchen wall. Because it is magnetic, knife blades placed on it automatically stick there.
Use the Right Cutting Board
The cutting board you use can affect how sharp and blunt your knives are. Using wooden cutting boards is the best way to keep kitchen knives sharp. The softwood doesn't damage the knife edge. Plastic cutting boards are the next best thing for knife edges, and they can be conveniently washed in the dishwasher. The worst cutting surfaces for knives are glass surfaces or ceramic plates. Since they are so hard, slicing on them will dull any knife.
The best way to keep knives sharp is by storing them properly. In addition, proper care, consistent honing, and careful sharpening are also tips that help in keeping the knives sharp. If you follow these simple tips, you won't have to worry about working yourself up into a sweat cutting ingredients with a blunt knife.