GO UP

How to sharpen your knife: The beginner's guide

Most seasoned cooks really only need a chef ’s knife, paring knife, serrated utility knife and boning knife, but if you want one to do almost everything, make it a quality chef’s knife.

A chef ’s knife is typically between 6 and 14 inches in length and 1.5 inches wide, with a slightly curved blade. This size and shape makes it easy to cut meat, dice vegetables, slice herbs, chop nuts and even disjoint some cuts. As long as you’re not intending to cleave bones or slice bread, a chef’s knife can take care of it.

No matter the knife you choose to work with, proper knife care is essential to peak performance. Here are four tips you should follow.

 

 

Hone

Knives don’t just lose sharpness after extended use; they also get bent out of shape due to microscopic dents. This will make even a freshly sharpened knife feel dull. Those new to honing can hold the handle of the honing steel with the tip planted onto the cutting board. Place the knife heel at the top of the steel at a 15 to 20 degree angle and draw the knife down the steel, pulling across its full length at a constant angle. Repeat this about eight times on either side of the blade.

Sharpen

Stones are the preferred method for sharpening knives as they won’t grind away too much of the blade. Whetstones come in a range of coarseness so start with a rougher one with a lower grit count before moving onto higher counts. Stones with a grit count of 3,000 or above are finishing stones used to refine and polish. Japanese water stones (pictured) are known for superior sharpening performance but the key to using any type is simply practice. Pro tip: Don’t count the strokes and let the feeling guide you.

Wash And Dry

If using a carbon steel knife, rinse your knife after cutting or chopping anything and wipe it immediately. Keeping it dry prevents rust from forming, which is why you should never leave it in the dishwasher – washing it by hand with a sponge and soap will suffice. If rust does form, simply scrub it off with the rough side of the sponge.

Test

Cutting with dull knives is dangerous because the extra force needed to cut through food can cause your hold to slip, and you may slice through something unintended. To test a knife’s sharpness, take a sheet of paper and hold the knife perpendicular to its edge. If it can easily slice through the paper, it’s sharp enough. Store knives by keeping them away from things that can knick the blade, so use a wall strip or knife block.

This story was first published on The Peak. 

Loading...