A good, sharp knife is an essential kitchen tool. A good set of knives can be very expensive so maintaining and sharpening your knives properly is very important. On this page we will give you some tips for cleaning, sharpening and maintaining your knife set.
Cleaning and Maintaining Your Knives
With an expensive set of quality knives you need to take care of them to protect your investment. You don’t want to put expensive knives in the dishwasher or let them sit in the sink overnight. If you do this they will rust. You need to wash your knives immediately after using them. To wash your knives safely, fill up a container with hot soapy water. Dip a scrub brush into the hot soapy water and give the blade of your knives a good scrubbing. To help keep yourself safe you might want to press the blade of your knife against the side of your sink as you scrub it so it will not move and you will not accidentally cut yourself.
Properly Sharpening Your Knives
A lot of knife sets come with a honing steel that is used to return the sharp edge to your knives. A honing steel doesn’t really sharpen the blade but it removes burrs and trues the edge. If you look at a blade under a microscope you will see that the metal has a grain that is somewhat like a wood’s grain. The grain on the edge of the blade can be thought of as fingers and as you use your blade the fingers tend to curl. A honing steel will straighten the fingers out, returning the sharp edge. You should use your honing steel every time you remove the blade from your knife block.
If you knife is not already sharp to begin with, a honing steel will not be able to sharpen it. For that, you need a sharpening stone. To properly sharpen your knife with a sharpening stone you need to wet the stone either with water or a mineral oil. Wetting the stone prevents the pores in the stone from getting clogged. If the pores were to become clogged the stone would no longer be able to sharpen your blades.
To sharpen your knives you will need to gently run the blade along the stone, sharpening the entire blade of the knife and using the entire length of the stone. Gently run the blade of the knife from heel to tip of the blade and moving from one corner of the sharpening stone to another. What you do on one side of your blade you also need to do on the other so you can stroke one side of the blade and then flip the knife over to do the other side or you can keep track of how many times you sharpen one side and then make sure you sharpen the blade the same number of times on the other side.
When you sharpen your knives with a sharpening stone you are removing some of the metal so it’s not something you want to do every day but sharpening can be performed once per week or once per month depending upon how often you use your knives. When your knife is sharp it should slice through a sheet of paper very easily by simply pressing down gently. If the blade is dull it will not cut the paper cleanly. After you sharpen your blades use the honing steel once again to take off any burrs. Then wipe down your knife and it is ready for its next use.