Knife Glossary // Types of blades and parts // Equipment Maintainence // Buying and caring for knives
Choosing and Caring For Your Knives
Choosing Your knives
A good quality knife should fit your hand well. To check for balance and weight, grip the knife so that the back of the blade is held firmly between thumb and forefinger, and the other fingers are wrapped around the handle. The handle should fit your hand comfortably and you should feel comfortable with the length of the blade. Both blade and handle should feel smooth to the touch with no visible gaps around the tang.
Sharpening Your Knife
Keeping a knife sharp will make cooking and kitchen tasks easier. A sharp knife performs better and is safer to use because less pressure is required to cut through the food. When too much pressure is exerted, the knife may slip and cause injury.
There are two types of sharpeners: those that create a new edge, such as stones and electric sharpeners, and those that hone and straighten the edge, such as straightening steels.
An oil is generally used to moisten the stone before sharpening. There are mineral oils specifically formulated for sharpening stones, but any food-safe mineral oil can be used.
To sharpen the knife, place at a slight angle with the blade flat on the rough side of the prepared stone. The sharp edge should be facing in. Then raise the opposite edge about 20 degrees, or about one-half inch. Beginning with the thickest part of the blade, continue to hold the knife at that angle as you draw it toward you in a smooth arc, finishing at the tip. Give it a few more strokes to raise a burr, then switch to the other side of the blade. Once you feel a sharper edge, finish the sharpening on the finer side of the stone, lightening the stroke each time.
A whetstone typically uses water to lubricate its surface. But if you've already begun to use oil on it, continue to do so to keep the surface from clogging.
A Carborundum stone usually has two sides: a rougher, medium grit for shaping the edge, and a finer grit that finishes the sharpening by lightly removing the burr that's built up during shaping.
Steels can be formed of either high-carbon stainless steel coated with industrial diamond dust or of ceramic. Buy one that's at least 10 inches long so there's plenty of surface to draw the knife from one end to the other. Use the steel every few times you use the knife, drawing the blade at the same angle that's used with a stone.
Keeping Your Knife Sharp
After each use, clean the knife with mild soap and water, and dry immediately. Never put a good knife in the dishwasher, where friction can damage its edge. High heat and detergent can also damage wood or polypropylene handles. Do not drop your knives in a pot sink, they could become dented by the heavy pots. Workers can be injured when reaching into the sink by the knives.
Acidic foods such as lemon, wine, mustard or ketchup should be rinsed off the knife right after using. If the blade shows signs of staining, use a nonabrasive metal polish.
Never cut through bones with a utility or chef's knife, which can damage the blade's edge. (Use a meat cleaver specifically designed for this purpose.) Using a knife for any purpose other than cutting may bend or even break the blade.
Knives stay sharper longer when used on a cutting surface that's easy on the blade. Wood cutting boards or blocks should be oiled once a month with food-grade mineral oil to protect against drying and cracking. Vegetable oil should not be used on wood because it can become rancid quickly,
Proper storing will make your knives last longer. A wooden knife block should have a large, flat base and slots that are spaced for safe removal. If counter space is limited, try a wooden in-drawer knife tray. With any wood storage, it's important to wash and dry knives thoroughly before storing to prevent mildew.
If you have space on a in the kitchen, a magnetic knife holder if great for holding blades firmly in place.
Knife Safety Tips
1) Keep your knives sharp.
2) When you are using a knife, don't cut with the edge toward you or your fingers. If you slip, the blade keeps going toward you, and can easily get you.
3) Don't leave sharp knives loose in a drawer, someone may reach in the drawer and cut their hand.
4) If you drop a knife, stand back and let it fall, don't try to catch it.
Wash the knives separately one at a time so you don't reach in the sink and get cut.