It’s a simple but true fact that if you take care of your knives, your knives will take care of you, and caring for your knives is simple so long as you have the know-how. Whether you just purchased your knives or you've just had them professionally sharpened, cleaning and usage will determine how long they stay sharp. So here are some tips on how to keep your metal edges sharp.
Before you start chopping, choose a malleable surface to chop on. Wood block (Butcher Block, bamboo) is the best surface for cutting and chopping. Blades need a surface that will give with pressure so as to not harm the edge. Wood block offers the least resistance particularly when you cut along the grain of the wood, which allows your knife to slide between the vertical fibers. In addition to being better for your knives, wood block is also more hygienic. Bacteria does not spread on wood block as it does on plastic, stone and glass and can be easily removed from wood block with very little effort (see cleaning tips below).
Caring for your wood block is quite easy using one of these methods:
· Hot water and soap – but remember to never submerge your wood block in the water as it will absorb the water and cause the board to crack when it dries.
· Vinegar – use white vinegar at full strength – keep it in a spray bottle for easy use.
o For and additional disinfecting (and to help remove odors) follow with a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide.
· Bleach – in the following mixture:
o 1 teaspoon of bleach to 1 quart of water
o 1 part bleach to 5 parts vinegar
Now that we know what to cut on, lets talk about cleaning and storage. Never, never, never ever, put a knife in the dishwasher. Knives in a dishwasher are quickly damaged by other silverware, ceramic or glass knocking against them and causing small imperfections on the knives that will dull the edge and damage the knives. Additionally, the high heat of the dishwasher can cause damage to the handle. Hand washing is the safest way to prolong the life of your knives, but knives should never be left to soak in soapy water. Not only do you run the risk of cutting yourself by mishandling the knife but you also run the risk of damaging the knife itself. The water can seep into the handle (depending on the material) or the tang and damage the knife internally. Be sure to dry the knife thoroughly before putting the knife away.
Knife storage is just as important when caring for your knives. Knives should be housed in a wood block or a knife drawer storage unit to keep the knives from banging around against one another in the drawer, as this will cause the same imperfections in the blades that can occur when washing in the dishwasher.
While a sharp knife cannot guarantee that the dinner you’re cooking will be a Michelin star success it can guarantee you less stress and greater safety in the kitchen.