After my post about the basic knives to have in your kitchen, I received a lot of questions and comments about knives. So, I decided to write a “Part 2” on caring for your knives. When you spend a great deal of money on knives, know that if you care for them in the correct way they will last you a lifetime! I’ve worked for chefs that have owned the same knives for 20 years! It’s true! And they have taken the time to meticulously care for them. So, here are some of the ways you can make your investments last for years.
1. Keep your knives sharp!
One of the first things I learned in culinary school was this…a sharp knife is safer than a dull knife. Why? You’ll find out the first time you cut yourself with a jagged, dull knife. We all have minor cuts, even the pros, and believe me…you’ll want to cut yourself with the sharpest knife possible. You’ll have a cleaner and less dangerous injury. Also, when you are using a sharp knife, your chances of slipping while cutting something like a pepper or tomato is considerably less. A sharp knife is a safe knife, and keeping your knife sharp will also make it last longer. Taking the time to sharpen it (either professionally or with a stone at home) will keep it like new, and in between the sharpening, make sure to hone it with a steel. (here) It’s wise to do this daily. It re-aligns your knife blade, taking the burrs and deformations from the knife in between sharpening sessions. I use a tri-stone sharpener in my home and I love it! (here) I also steel my knives every day. If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, there are an array of knife shops that can do this for you.
2. Wash your knives by hand!
Most people throw their knives in the dishwasher out of habit. Don’t do it! With an investment of $50-$100 or more, you need to care for your knife like a baby. Wash them by hand with warm soapy water, and make sure to dry them well. Don’t let your knife become rusty or gather mold or mildew, especially in the handle area. Also, when you wash them, don’t throw them in the sink with every other item you have. This can bend or damage the knives besides the fact that someone may reach in the soapy water and accidentally grab the knife blade. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to scold cooks for throwing knives (and other blades) into a sinkful of soapy water. Take care and take precautions.
3. Use a great cutting board when using your knives!
I worked at an establishment ( I won’t say where), where I saw people cutting product directly on a stainless steel table. I was freaking out!! This is crazy! Not only does this damage a knife, but it’s an accident waiting to happen! If you’ve spend hundreds of dollars on great knives, spend another 20 bucks on a decent cutting board! Not only will it be safe for you, but it saves your knives. A wood or composite cutting board will take the correct impact from your knife without dulling or damaging it.
4. Store your knives properly!
I’m sure I’m not the only one that’s seen knives thrown into a drawer with every other kitchen tool imaginable. OMG! What a disaster! Try reaching into that drawer and get a knife out without cutting off a limb! Seriously people!! I’ll say it again…if you are going to make an investment for a lifetime, spend a little more on a system to store your knives. There are so many options. I use a magnetic holder on my kitchen wall where my knife will attach. But you can use a knife block or drawer organizer specifically made for knives. This will keep them sharp and away from other objects that can damage them.
5. Learn how to use a knife!
I know this sounds crazy…you are like “I know how to chop/cut food!” . Well…ok. But if you learn how to use a professional knife properly, this will help you learn how to keep that investment for a lifetime. The first thing I learned in culinary school was how to use a knife. Before any cooking, recipes or touching any food.. this was number one!!! And we spent days on this! This will be the most important information in your cooking arsenal. There are numerous classes online, on YouTube and all over the internet on the correct way to use a knife. Spend a day reading and watching these videos. It will make your cooking life easier, and will help you understand how a knife is an extension of your hand. You will learn to appreciate not only technique, but the knife as a tool!
I hope this has answered some of the questions I’ve received. Please let me know if you have more, and I always appreciate comments on things I may have left out! Keep cooking and enjoy the result!!
Photo from Knifiesta.
Have a great week!!
Beijos e Tchau!