Caring For Your Kitchen Knives
12 Jun 2020, 6:46 PM
Caring For Your Kitchen Knives:
Do's & Don'ts
In a commercial kitchen, there's little a chef takes greater pride in than their kitchen knives, so it's important they remain well looked after.
A good set of chefs' knives are worth their weight in gold, allowing chefs to work quickly, efficiently, safely and neatly. While some knives are versatile and therefore in constant use, others will be retained for more specific occasions, but all need to be cared for in the same loving manner.
Here are five top tips for keeping your kitchen knives in tip-top condition.
Keep your knives sharpened
It's well known that a sharp knife is considerably safer than a blunt knife, not to mention a lot quicker and easier to use. So, really, it goes without saying that knives need to be kept sharpened to ensure they are functioning to their optimum potential. This can be done yourself using various types of knife stone, or by sending them off to a professional. The frequency with which you need to sharpen them largely depends on how much use each individual knife gets, what you are chopping and how well the knives are cared for in other areas that we will explore below.
Honing should not be confused with sharpening. Instead of grinding away tiny bits of metal to reshape the edge, honing simply aligns the edge of the knife. This should be done a lot more frequently than sharpening, possibly every couple of days (unless it's carbon steel in which case it may need to be done before each use), but only if you're sure the knife itself is still sharp. Honing can be carried out easily with a honing steel or rod and, unlike what you see in the movies, only a couple of strokes are required. Over-honing will end up wearing out the tines.
Many people will make the mistake of throwing their various kitchen knives in the dishwasher or leaving them to soak in the bottom of a bowl. Regardless of what the manufacturer instructions are, putting kitchen knives into a dishwasher can cause rusting or damage to the blade. Always clean knives by hand and dry immediately to preserve the metal. Where carbon steel knives are concerned, you may need to lightly oil the blade after drying as well.
All kitchen knives, whether they be butchers' knives, carving knives or any other type, should be stored safely either in a knife block or in a utensil draw by themselves, rather than with other items, otherwise, you will run the risk of damaging the blade and injuring yourself as well. If stored in a wooden knife block, they should be kept upside down to avoid resting on the blade. An alternative is to purchase plastic knife guards, which will then allow them to be safely stored in a draw if necessary. A final option is a metallic strip mounted to the kitchen wall, though this requires a lot of care to be taken when working around the knives. Explore all of our knife storage options here.
The surface of a cutting board is important when it comes to looking after your knives and prolonging their lifespan. Wooden, plastic or bamboo boards will not damage your knives and so these would always be preferable to work with. Glass, marble or granite, however, are all harder materials than the blade of the knife, so will end up blunting it. Counter-tops are likely made of granite or marble, so again, don't be tempted to skip using the cutting board in favour of saving a few seconds or a bit of washing up.
Don't forget, these tips remain valid for the knives in your kitchen at home too. They deserve the same care and attention to keep them performing well and to prolong their lifespan, giving you better value for money.